MADISON, Illinois – Harrison Newey is often mentioned first as the son of legendary racing engineer Adrian Newey. As the 19-year old looks to build his own career, the young driver opted this weekend to take a look at the place where his father established his legacy more than 30 years ago.
While on break from his usual duties in the European Formula 3 championship, Harrison Newey is visiting to Gateway Motorsports Park to witness Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires racing for the first time in person.
In a move that excites longtime fans of the sport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal welcomed the younger Newey 32 years after Rahal and the elder Newey worked together in Indy cars at Truesports in 1984-85 (they are shown at right in 1985).. While Adrian Newey moved on in 1986 to engineer Michael Andretti’s car, the Newey-designed March 86C chassis took Rahal to victory lane in the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy car championship that season.
Rahal and Adrian Newey have remained close since. Enter Harrison, attempting to forge his own racing career, much like Bobby’s son Graham, now a Verizon IndyCar Series star driver.
“Bobby was over in the U.K. two or three weeks ago seeing my dad,” Harrison Newey said Friday, “and I said to him, ‘What’s it like over in America?’ and he said, ‘Come over, have a look, see what you think.’ So I came across, took the opportunity, and here I am.”
Currently sitting ninth in the Formula 3 standings in his second season, Newey has a few former fellow competitors in Europe who made the switch to American open-wheel racing. He visited Friday with Matheus Leist, now with Carlin in Indy Lights.
“I went across and saw Matheus because I raced him in Europe,” Newey said. “I just said hello to him and he was explaining that the cars were quite different (than in Europe). There’s a big speed increase and the tracks are very different over here.
“You have the road courses, which I think in general are quite bumpy and difficult, you have street tracks. But also you’ve got short ovals, long ovals, there’s so many different variables across the season that he had to get used to when he came across from Europe to here.”
INDYCAR’s return visit to Gateway’s 1.25-mile oval also provided Newey a chance to take in oval racing for the first time, or at least in a proper manner.
“Well, I’ve seen one before,” Newey said with a grin. “Rockingham Speedway (in England). I did a lap by accident. I missed my braking point (on the road course) so I decided to go straight around and see what it was like, but I’ve never done a purposeful lap on an oval.”
Newey will watch tonight’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline from the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing pit before returning to Europe for the remainder of the Formula 3 season, which resumes at Germany’s Nurburgring on Sept. 9-10.