Colton Herta’s introduction to an Indy car Friday at Portland International Raceway went smoothly and without any drama — except for that first time he hit the brakes.
“My face went to the floor, I wasn’t expecting that,” said the 18-year-old Californian following his test with Harding Racing. “But I was ready for it the next time.”
The second-generation racer adapted nicely to the increased horsepower of the Harding Racing Dallara/Chevrolet as he turned over 100 laps in the car that’s been driven by Gabby Chaves and Conor Daly in 2018. Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach also tested at the sight of next month’s IndyCar race on Labor Day weekend.
“It was super cool and very interesting,” continued the Indy Lights regular who has four wins this season and is second the point standings behind Pato O’Ward. “Honestly, the horsepower didn’t seem that different. I mean, obviously, it’s faster than I’ve ever gone but the speed isn’t what I noticed.
“It was the load going into the corners and the straight-line braking that was impressive.”
By all accounts, so was the young man behind the wheel.
“It was super cool and Colton did a good job,” said Bryan Herta, who was driving a Formula Ford in Barber Dodge at his son’s age. “He still needs a ride for next year but he’s an Indy car driver now.”
Like his father, Colton is a spindly kid with a slight build but said he felt fine at the end of the day after wrestling his 1,500-pound car.
“It’s a shock when you first get into a new car because you hold on so tight and use all that energy getting used to the car, and it took it out of me early,” he admitted. “But Portland isn’t a super physical track, nothing like Sonoma or The Glen, and I felt good by the end of the session.”
RACER reported last week that Michael Andretti is considering farming out a couple cars for 2019 and Herta and his Lights owner George Michael Steinbrenner IV were thought to be targeted in a deal that would be a coup with Mike Harding’s team.
“It would be nice to run the final race of the year or get to test again but we’ll see what happens,” the younger Herta said. “But it was awesome to get my first drive in an Indy car. I just wish it could have happened a little sooner.”
A little sooner? He just turned 18. But obviously he’s in a hurry.