Could Colton Herta be a future IndyCar star? Anne Proffit sure thinks so.
There are plenty of second generation drivers making their way through the ranks to find their way at the upper echelons of motorsport. We’ve seen them racing in USAC’s various ladder series, in the INDYCAR Mazda Road to Indy USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights series and also in sports cars, to name but a few.
One such driver who’s caught my eye of late is Colton Herta, elder son of Bryan and Janette. Colton is just 14 years of age, with his birthday at the close of March. He’s been racing IKF kid karts since he was seven and won his first year out! At eight Colton won races in his Southern California region 7 in IKF Cadet karts and took two championships a year later. At 10 Herta became the SuperKarts USA TaG Cadet titleholder and then repeated a year later, continuing to progress through the karting ranks through 2012.
In 2013 Herta graduated to Pacific F1600 and decimated his competition by earning 10 wins, 15 podiums, 10 poles and setting 11 fastest race laps as he earned his title. He couldn’t move up to USF2000 until he was 14 so missed the first race meeting of the 2014 season at St Petersburg, but made his debut at the second race of the year at Barber Motorsports Park, where he was 19th in the first race and seventh in the second. The stage was set for races five and six, where Herta would compete at the most historic venue of all: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Herta became familiar with the 14-corner, 2.439-mile Indy road course easily and was second in the second practice session. Although he qualified third, there was a technical infraction and he was forced to start 22nd and last in the first race. Undaunted, Herta finished fifth in that contest and found himself gridded seventh in the 22-car field. It wasn’t quite the race that he wanted as Herta was shuffled back and punted on the final lap, putting him one lap down in 20th place in his JAY Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian Mazda-powered race car. “I got crashed three times during that race,” he said.
After the second race Herta was, as expected, bummed out but determined to make up for it next time he got on the track. That occasion will be the famous Night Before the 500 on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval in nearby Brownsburg. He has a test on the oval on Tuesday.
From what I’ve seen so far, he appears to be a pretty level-headed kid - at 14 - and has a similar attitude to his father, an Indy Lights champion, INDYCAR race winner who’s segued from the driver’s seat to be a wonderful team co-owner (with Steve Newey) at the Verizon IndyCar Series level.
I think Colton Herta has a very bright future ahead of him in the racing game. And his present situation is mighty exciting too. I can’t wait to watch him grow in this sport!