Brad Pollard is a late-starter in the world of professional auto racing. Brad Pollard. Photo by indyracing.com/Dana Garrett. The cousin of Art Pollard, who competed in six Indianapolis 500 Mile Races during a career cut short by a...
Brad Pollard is a late-starter in the world of professional auto racing.
Pollard is embarking on his first full season of Menards Infiniti Pro Series competition with the sophomore Kenn Hardley team. The 38-year-old Bakersfield, CA native (who currently lives in Redmond, WA) drove two MIPS races last year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and, in his first try an 11th place finish was his best result at the California Speedway round. He was involved in an accident at the Texas finale.
Brad Pollard started in karts at a young age and did autocross as a teenager, but it was football and pole-vaulting that intrigued him in his college days. "In 1999 I got into a shifter kart and realized I should pursue my dream wholeheartedly," Pollard related.
"I remember when I was five years old, my cousin Art was racing at Riverside and I got into the pits and [eventually] into his car, put on the helmet and that convinced me to race," he recalled. "It was always my goal, my dream to get to Indy. I made the transition late into racing cars, but the dream was always there."
The 2002 Southwest Formula Mazda Series Rookie of the Year, Pollard may have taken a sideways route to professional motorsports, but now he has jumped into the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and has an eagle eye on the Indy Racing League's premier IndyCar Series toward the end of this season and into next year.
With sponsorship from Microsoft's Xbox, Pollard started his first two 2004 Infiniti Pro Series in eighth place and finished fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 11th on Phoenix International Raceway. He's aiming to do better at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 22nd, as the Pro Series drivers take on the 100-mile Futaba Freedom 100, only the second support event ever held for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
"It was exciting to be at Indy for the open test [April 23rd]," Pollard said. "I felt like I was coming home. It felt so familiar. The car was set up perfectly and I found the laps going by almost like slow motion. The first time I went into Turn one, where Art lost his life, I kind of looked up. I'm really intent on bringing the Pollard name back into the IRL and my primary goal is to win the Indy 500."
He's got a way to go, of course, but Pollard expects to compete in the final three races of the 2004 season - in addition to driving his Infiniti Pro Series Dallara/Infiniti - just as Ed Carpenter did last year. "I want to continue the ladder to Indy cars in 2005 and XBOX is along" for the ride.
To that end, Pollard expects to announce his plans right after this year's 88th Indy 500. "We'll be making our strategic alignments after Indy," knowing that cars are usually available after that time. "I intend to jump back and forth between the IRL and Pro series and continue with XBOX. It's very exciting, but I can't talk about it quite yet," he advised.
Pollard's affiliation with XBOX goes on even when he's not in his Pro series car. "I'm thankful and fortunate to work with a company like this. I do work as a consultant for them and help make better games from a technical and creative standpoint. I knew the right people to call (when looking for sponsorship) and knew how to make this advantageous for them. They're happy with the results so far and looking forward to moving on in 2005."
Pollard's family wasn't exactly behind his efforts when Brad finally decided to get into the racing game. "My father was upset about it and asked why I wanted to do this because it is so dangerous," he related. "I couldn't explain why. It's a dream I've wanted to pursue my whole life." Now, of course his father is much better with his plans. "He's very excited, provided I don't crash!"
In fact the bulk of Pollard's family is behind the effort. "Let's go to work and get the Pollard name back on track," is Brad's mantra and it's clear he is mesmerized by the magic of the Speedway. "I felt like I'd driven here dozens of times (during his first test). It was so natural."
Pollard and his representatives are talking to different teams at this time to get plans in place for those final three 2004 IndyCar Series races, so that he can get primed for an assault on the Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors in 2005. "I thought I could say something about it yesterday, but I expect we'll have the deal up and running by June 1st," he explained.
"My goal is just to get up there, do well and finish" the three races in Indy cars later this year. "We'll test in the off-season and back strong to win next year. We could purchase another team outright, start from scratch or affiliate with a team that's already in operation," Brad said.
Whatever he does, Brad Pollard's love for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its traditional lures to racers is evident. He wants to keep the Pollard name alive in the annals of Indy car racing and believes he's the man for the job. "I'm staying focused on the open wheel arena to get as good as I can. It's what I've always wanted."