Colin Braun has reached the point in his sports car career where testing and possibly racing an Indy car has become a significant goal.
Considered by many as one of the most talented and complete sports car drivers in the country, some of his contemporaries prefer to focus solely on careers spent with roofs over their heads. And while it would be easy to imagine Braun devoting another decade or two in sports cars before retiring, he wants to stray from a safe and predictable lane.
Fresh off a career-best drive from the back of IMSA’s Prototype class to capture overall victory on the daunting Canadian Tire Motorsports Park circuit (pictured above), the Texan sees IndyCar as a natural outlet to apply the speed and experience he’s gained since joining the pro ranks as a teen in 2005.
“I just want people to know I’m a race car driver who’s interested in racing anything and everything and would love to throw my name in the ring with IndyCar,” Braun told RACER during a break from testing the CORE autosport ORECA 07 LMP2 he shares with team owner Jon Bennett.
“I think a lot of people believe I’m married to sports cars and don’t want to expand my horizons, so I figured it’s time to say it out loud about wanting to be in an Indy car. I would love to arrange a test because I think it would be a good fit for me, and hopefully for a team that was looking for some new input on the car.”
Now 29, the same age as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie sensation Robert Wickens, Braun’s become a rarity among road racing stars.
As a Ford factory driver with Roush Fenway Racing, he amassed more than 80 starts in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series championships, which included a Truck win on the Michigan oval in 2009. Braun also owns a pair of IMSA Prototype Challenge championships with Bennett and CORE, prototype wins in the former ALMS and Grand-Am sports car series, has raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also set the closed-course lap record of 222.9mph on the Daytona superspeedway in a Ford Ecoboost DP with Michael Shank Racing.
Fourteen seasons in, Braun’s deep road racing roots and oval expertise could present an interesting mix for IndyCar team owners to sample.
“CORE’s my home and has been for quite some time, so I’m not wanting to make any changes there,” Braun continued. “I also look at what Robert Wickens has done by bringing in a ton of experience from other forms of racing, and I know that I could bring a lot of the same things. The element of speed is obviously required, but also the experience with pit stops, long races, managing fuel and tires, and the fact that I’ve done a lot of NASCAR oval racing, is pretty unique.”
Along with 2003 Champ Car title winner Paul Tracy who has championed Braun as an IndyCar-level talent, Morgan Brady, Braun’s team manager at CORE, is also staunch supporter and would welcome seeing the son of renowned race engineer Jeff Braun catch the eye of an IndyCar team.
“I’m really glad that Colin’s getting the attention for his most recent drives, but in reality, he’s been doing this level of driving for us the last five years in high- and low-downforce prototypes, GT cars, and some Global Rallycross,” Brady said.
“We view Colin as our franchise player — he’s our Derek Jeter and we don’t want to lose him, but IndyCar would be crazy to not give him a look and we really support that. He’s the complete package and the technical knowledge, with growing up with a father who engineered in IndyCar and NASCAR and sports cars, the technical side was baked in since birth.”
Having raced against IndyCar’s elite each year at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve hours of Sebring, Braun likes the idea of joining them on their turf to see how he compares in a new discipline.
“I raced against Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti when we were kids in karting, and love it when the top IndyCar guys come race with us,” he said. “I look at all the drivers who come in and compete in the long endurance races, and know we match up pretty well. If I could get a shot to do some testing and maybe on off weekends, do some IndyCar races, I’d be the luckiest guy.”