The Jay Howard Driver Development team is expanding its presence on the Road To Indy with a pair of Indy Lights cars.
“We have bought two cars, one from Juncos Racing and one from Carlin Racing,” Howard told RACER. “Trevor Carlin and Colin Hale really helped us out; we bought timing stands and everything needed to run the cars. The grand plan one day would be to take the team to IndyCar, and the original goal was to take kids into karting, teach them what they need to get to the top, and take them to the top with our team.”
The 2006 Indy Lights champion and three-time Indy 500 starter has crafted a busy schedule for JHDD in 2020.
“We’re staying in [SCCA] F4 and USF2000,” he said. “We’re full in USF2000 with four cars, have one seat open in F4, we’re not going to do the Indy Pro 2000 championship, and we’re open to running Indy Lights next year.
“The main thing we’ll do is a heavy testing program with the cars, and then go full-time in 2021, maybe with three cars. Taking kids from karting to F4, where they learn to drive cars, and in the second year, they go to USF2000, on a bit bigger stage, and then decide if one year in USF2000 or two is needed before going to Indy Lights.”
With JHDD’s new expansion on the open-wheel ladder, Howard would also like to forge a relationship with an IndyCar team in search of an alliance on the Road To Indy.
“I’d love to team up with an IndyCar team to have a connection between our team and theirs where it’s mutually beneficial,” he said. “Maybe a couple of years from now we work with that team, get a car for the Indy 500, and do like Mike Shank has done and take a top Indy Lights driver to their first Indy and build an IndyCar program out in a partnership with that team. It would be good to have a pipeline working in both directions.”
Howard’s last Indy 500 start came in 2018, and with the growth of JHDD, the Briton says his new venture as a team owner and mentor to IndyCar’s next-generation drivers has been a rewarding replacement for chasing drives.
“I look at the things in my driving career I did well, did badly, the good and bad decisions, and try to pass that down to help these kids fulfill their dreams without having to make the same mistakes,” he said. “I’m having every bit as much fun now as my best days in racing, and on some occasions, more fun. You see where some kids start and the progression they’re making, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to help them go after the career I spent most of my life pursuing.”