INDIANAPOLIS – Known for years in the Verizon IndyCar Series as an experienced and capable driver, Oriol Servia has also distinguished himself as an entertaining karaoke king.
“Ask him to sing ‘My Way,’” said Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal.
Servia laughs at the suggestion, but concedes he’s belted out the Frank Sinatra classic more than once. The 42-year-old Spaniard has always had an infectious zeal for life, so sharing how his singing got started in Japan in 2000 is amusing.
“We all stayed in this hotel next to the (Twin Ring Motegi) track,” Servia said. “In the basement, they have all these small rooms and each one is a karaoke room. I just started there, and I liked it. Then I liked it so much, I bought this microphone that you can plug into any TV, and it has 2,000 songs in it. I would carry it to races and many times Sunday after the race, we would have a little party in my room.”
Servia laughs at himself, then adds: “That was when I was young. It’s been awhile. I don’t carry that around anymore.”
His No. 16 Manitowoc Honda will start 12th, two spots ahead of his teammate Rahal, in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday. As he prepares to make the 200th career start of his Indy car career, did Servia in fact do it his way?
“I think I’ve done it my way, yes, definitely,” he said. “Nobody else’s way, that’s for sure. It’s been more of a way that’s one step at a time than a clear plan of knowing where I was heading. I’m just trying to figure out each time.”
Despite constantly trying to put sponsorship deals together, Servia hasn’t had a full-time ride since 2012 with Dreyer & Reinbold/Panther Racing. But he’s respected in the paddock. He was a 2008 KV Racing Technology teammate with Will Power, who went on to win the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series title for Team Penske. Servia also teamed with Rahal at the Indy 500 in 2014 and 2015.
He’s celebrated only one Indy car victory, the 2005 Molson Indy Montreal while driving for Newman/Haas Racing in the Champ Car World Series. But he also has eight second places, 10 thirds, 14 fourths and 19 fifths.
One of those fourths is his best finish in eight Indianapolis 500 starts, driving for Dreyer & Reinbold/Panther in 2012.
“He hasn’t been given or gotten the opportunities that others have,” Rahal said. “He’s very underrated in his performance. He’s fast and knows how to get the job done.”
That doesn’t quite begin to sum up Rahal’s affinity for his teammate.
“Oriol is the man: I love Oriol,” Rahal said. “He’s a great teammate, a great addition, the consummate pro. He’s just a great person to have around. I wish and hope there’s some day we can make it happen to find some money to run him full time.
“It’s been a lot of fun to have him around and bounce ideas off of. He always has the same feel for the car as I do, which is obviously very important. I appreciate that greatly because it helps me, it helps confirm to me that what I’m doing is right, that the ideas and concepts I push are right.”
The feeling is mutual.
“It’s the same with me,” Servia said. “Graham is a good guy. He’s always been real mature for his age, and I think he’s very intelligent. You see that on track, the way he races. He takes a lot from (his father) Bobby.”
Time has flown so quick; Servia can’t believe he will reach a milestone Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Here I am, 200th start at the Indy 500 on a great team, and I think we have a shot,” he said. “It goes quick somehow, but most importantly, I’m not tired of it. I seem to be wanting more, and I think I keep getting better, too. I’m sure at one point it will turn around and go down. But right now, I feel like every time I get in the car, I know something else that I didn’t know before, and I still have the speed and I still want it.”
Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets for the 101st Indianapolis 500. Live coverage of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
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