INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Jack Harvey confessed his brush with the Turn 2 wall Monday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn’t his first bump in the month of May.
As a youngster who dreamed of glory while racing go-karts, British rookie Harvey idolized Fernando Alonso. Now Harvey is literally bumping into the two-time Formula One champion as an Andretti Autosport teammate for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Well, he’s hip-bumping his hero.
“The other day, we were getting changed next to each other, and I’m pretty sure I hip-bumped him by mistake,” Harvey said, smiling. “I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s Fernando Alonso.’ I just casually hip-bumped him.”
Harvey, 24, has resisted the temptation to tell 2005 and 2006 F1 champion Alonso that one of his childhood dreams was to race him.
Now they’re preparing together for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 28.
“I’ve tried not to fumble that,” Harvey said of his Alonso admiration. “I nearly did. I nearly went straight in for a selfie (photo), but I try not to.”
In all seriousness, Harvey isn’t just a happy face along for the ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After a steering column malfunction rendered him helpless to prevent Monday’s Turn 2 incident, he was back on track today to complete his rookie orientation program as the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda topped out at 218.943 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
“I’m not here just to mess about or make up the numbers,” Harvey said. “I’m here to try to achieve something. I like Michael (Shank) because he’s that way, too.”
Before Harvey was born, Shank, 50, of Columbus, Ohio, dreamed of racing in the Indy 500. Shank ascended to make one Indy car start as a driver, finishing 16th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1997, then transitioned to team ownership. Success in the Toyota Atlantic series and more recently in sports cars paved the way for realizing a lifetime ambition.
“We always say we have to manage expectations, but honestly, I’m always watching the monitor,” Shank said, glancing up at the garage video screen before today’s afternoon session. “I want to be fastest. Now, there are times to be fastest and times not. We’re not there yet. We need to manage our curve here.
“Jack is really impressing me more every hour I’m with him.”
The team considers the Turn 2 mishap a minor bump in the road.
“I hated it for him because I don’t want to stutter his step,” Shank said. “I want his curve to keep at an arc and going forward. I felt horrible for him.”
Harvey quickly dismissed the setback.
“I was coming out of pit lane,” he said. “Even I can’t get that wrong.”
So far, their story is about the energy and enthusiasm which has quickly spread through the team’s garage. The crew likes to tease Harvey about his good looks. Harvey gets a kick out of Shank’s inspired outlook.
Harvey was a two-time runner-up in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires developmental series, in 2014 and 2015, and has coached series drivers in 2016 and this season.
Three years ago, Harvey attended his first Indy 500.
“I came to the Indy 500 and decided this is where I wanted to stay,” he said. “I had always had massive respect for the Indy 500, what it means and what it represents. I just didn’t fully understand the ins and the outs of it.
“The amount of people who were there on that day … seeing 300,000 people in one place is rare. You don’t see that hardly ever. My hometown (Bassingham, England) doesn’t have a population that big. Even the prerace build-up, the singing of all the songs, the parades and just everything, it was so incredible with so much atmosphere.”
Like so many other young racers, Harvey gets “it” about Indy.
“I had goosebumps and I wasn’t even driving,” he said. “I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel come race day when I’m actually a part of the show.”
For more information about Honda Racing, visit http://hpd.honda.com/.