Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) development driver Kyle O’Gara took a big step in his career at Kentucky Speedway on October 18 when he strapped into a Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time.
At 17 years old, O’Gara turned just under 100 laps on the 1.5-mile tri-oval to pass his rookie orientation test for the Firestone Indy Lights series.
“I was a little nervous but it was just another step in the right direction for my career,” O’Gara said. “Getting used to using the clutch coming out of the pits and shifting was a big learning curve since I’m used to driving midgets which stay in one gear.”
O’Gara drove a car prepared by Fan Force United/ SFHR Development, with assistance from sponsors Service Central, SFHR Development, IUPUI and RW Motorsports.
SFHR IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden was on hand with open wheel veterans Sarah Fisher and Tyce Carlson to lend guidance.
“It was great to be part of a big day for Kyle,” Sarah Fisher said. “From a coaching standpoint, he was consistent. He got right to the driving line and continued to bring the speed up to a level that his engineer Mike Colliver was impressed with.”
Mike Colliver, who served as an engineering consultant for the test, noted O’Gara’s consistency during the test.
“Kyle settled right in and did exactly what we asked of him,” Colliver said. “He gave great feedback. We were able to do a lot of short runs to make changes on the car so he could see how it adapted to the changes. If he didn’t get up to speed as quickly as he did I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
O’Gara’s quickest lap was just under 189 mph, which would have put him in the top-ten for qualifying at the last Firestone Indy Lights race at Kentucky Speedway.
O’Gara felt right at home driving at Kentucky Speedway, the site of Sarah Fisher’s first IndyCar pole and SFHR’s first IZOD IndyCar Series win.
“It meant a lot to me for my first open wheel test in a rear engine car to be at Kentucky Speedway,” O’Gara said. “It’s a track I’ve always dreamed of driving at and it has a lot of great memories for SFHR.”
In 2013, O’Gara and SFHR Development are working toward a partial oval schedule in Firestone Indy Lights in addition to a mixed USF2000 and USAC schedule.