Change has been the name of the game during the IndyCar offseason at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing headquarters. Co-owner Sarah Fisher discusses improvements both inside and out of the race shop, the series’ new title sponsor and gives insight on how veteran Alex Tagliani will help her team during the month of May. Before opening weekend begins March 28 – a week from today! – on the Streets of St. Petersburg, get a look behind the scenes in “Sarah’s Q&A Corner”.
Q: It’s been a long offseason. What has the team been focusing on and working on inside the shop to be as prepared as possible before St. Petersburg next weekend?
A: It has been a long offseason, but it always seems to go quicker than you expect it to at the beginning. There are always project ideas that come up during the season that the team doesn’t necessarily have time to dedicate development toward during the season. So the team has taken those ideas and actually found some great in-house advantages by being creative with less, which is always something we try to accomplish, being a small team. And, with the HURCO association we have for CNC machines, the fabrication department has been busy flying chips for all sorts of applications! Our team has been very productive with details, making sure that we have our basics covered so that when the opportunity comes in for a great development budget, we are ready to handle those projects because all the little details have been paid attention to and checked off.
Q: You have completed multiple testing days during the offseason, including the open test at Barber Motorsports Park this week. This is Josef’s third season with SFHR; what on-track improvements can fans expect to see this year with the car?
A: As a whole, I think our consistency will be better if only for a better understanding, team-wide, for these cars. We look at our group as a collaborative unit, not one person overshadowing another. With that in mind, everyone at SFHR has stepped up their game. We are just as excited about our third year working with Josef as we were at the beginning, but most certainly we are optimistic about our expectations for continued progress as a group.
Q: IndyCar announced a multi-year entitlement agreement with Verizon Wireless last week. What are your thoughts on how this affects your team and the growth of the sport, in general?
A: It’s fantastic news that will affect everyone. I know they were working hard to put that partnership in place starting this season, and we are very grateful that it was able to all work out. Verizon has been great to our series and certainly showcases the type of brand our sport can attract. For us, it will be an incredible talking point when we are trying to grow ourselves on the commercial side.
Q: You announced that Alex Tagliani will run a second car for your team at this year’s Indianapolis 500. How do you think having Tag in the car during May will help both Josef and your team?
A: We are looking forward to working with Tag on many levels. He has some great energy that I think can resonate well throughout our team in all directions. Having a teammate means so much from a growth standpoint for anyone. I am sure Josef will benefit from the second set of input. It was important to all of us that the second program be one that can help the team overall, and we think Tag, as well as the people we are placing around him for the effort, will add to our performance. We would love to be a two-car team at some point and aspire to do so when it makes sense commercially.
Q: As a team owner, what are you most looking forward to with the 2014 season kicking off just one week from now? Are you ready to get back out on the track?
A: The most exciting part of the start to a season is seeing the projects that the team has worked so hard on in the offseason, both on track and off. I think it’s a year-long effort to put a winning team forward, and I can appreciate how hard everyone at SFHR has been working over the past few months. So it’s rewarding to all of us to see that translate into moving parts on a race weekend. And too, I can’t help but mention my daughter, Zoey, is all about going to the “racetrack” to see “Joe go fast!” She’s been wearing the earmuffs around the house the last few days, so I know she’s as ready as all of us!