The Indianapolis 500 will have a new/old name on its 2013 entry list, now that AJ Foyt Racing has confirmed its second car for 21-year-old Conor Daly, son of former Formula 1 and Indy car racer Derek Daly. So I guess this mean’s the Daly Show will be coming to the Indy garages, pending young Conor’s passage of his Rookie Orientation Program on April 11th.
Daly tested with the legendary Foyt’s team in Sebring last December, a successful test that impressed the irascible Foyt. While Foyt has watched Conor Daly make his way through the Mazda Road to Indy ranks, it seemed the second generation driver had his sights set primarily on becoming a Formula 1 driver, as he’s spent the last two years racing in GP3 and entered GP2 this year.
Still, the Noblesville, Ind. native has always had a soft spot for the Brickyard’s 2.5-mile oval. Essentially he grew up on the grounds. “I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” Daly explained. “I have been to the 500 every year of my existence except for last year, when I raced at Monaco,” becoming a highlight reel for his accident coming out of that track’s famous tunnel.
Daly won’t be the only rookie taking laps and attempting to pass at least two of the three phases in his rookie program next week: Tristan Vautier (driving for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports), Carlos Munoz for Andretti Autosport and Team Penske’s AJ Allmendinger will also take part in the exercise. Each driver must run 10 laps at 200-205 mph and another 10 circuits of 205-209 mph. The third phase, which can be conducted during regular practice, consists of 15 laps over 210 mph.
Conducting the day-to-day operations of his famous father’s team, Larry Foyt said he is “excited about bringing Conor to Indy for his first race at the 500. ‘ve been watching him coming up through the open wheel ranks and when we first met at the F-1 race in Austin, Texas last year, we hit it off immediately. Doing the test at Sebring confirmed he could make the step up to an Indy car and, with my dad’s guidance, the potential is there for a great month of May.”
It was that December test on the challenging Sebring road course that convinced AJ Foyt to hire young Daly: “He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the off-season. He was fast, smooth and didn’t get in trouble,” the legend said. “When we made a change on the car he felt it – I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job.”
Daly has shown expertise in every racing challenge he’s faced, from karts to Star Mazda (now Mazda Pro), Firestone Indy Lights, GP3 and currently in GP2. Daly won the Star Mazda title in his sophomore, 2010 season and competed in both Firestone Indy Lights and GP3 the following year. He took his initial GP3 title at the second race of the 2012 season in Barcelona but would be better known for his aerobatics in race No. 2 at Monaco.
After a single Barcelona test for team owner Franz Hilmer’s GP2 squad, Daly made his debut in Malaysia, posting the second-fastest race lap on Sunday morning and producing a mistake-free weekend for the new Germany-based squad. He’ll continue to run with Hilmer leading up to the start of practice for the 97th Indianapolis 500, scheduled to take the green flags on May 26.