When Frederick L. Olmsted drafted the plans for Belle Isle in Detroit, he envisioned a beautiful oasis in what was simply a marshy swamp, similar to the transformation he concocted for the most famous green space in the world, Central Park.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) and Josef Newgarden have never raced at scenic Belle Isle, but after five races in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, the team has proven that a fast rookie and a capable team can work together to build a competitive package.
The team has rolled out of the transporter with a quick race car at each IndyCar street circuit thus far, including St. Petersburg, Fla., Long Beach, Calif. and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Newgarden started second in the Long Beach Grand Prix and had the quickest lap of the race in Sao Paulo.
SFHR is considered by many to be a contender on oval tracks with their win at Kentucky Speedway in 2011, but the team has stepped up its road course and street circuit programs and proven that it can turn right just as well as it can turn left.
SFHR and Josef Newgarden are seeking a solid finishing result at Belle Isle to back up the promising speed they have posted early in the season.
With a little ingenuity and a lot of raw talent, Newgarden and SFHR are looking to follow in Olmsted’s footsteps to architect their own piece of history in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (Driver- Nashville, Tenn.)
On switching from ovals to street courses:
“I’m interested to see what happens, because I think it feels weird going into a street course after being on an oval for a long time. Everything you’re doing in the car feels completely different. Now that things are back to a street course setting it takes a while to feel normal. You’ve got to give yourself four to five laps to re-adjust to the street course feel. I think we’ll be able to adjust really quickly as a team, and I think everybody will catch up, but I think it will be interesting to see which teams get on top of it the quickest.”
On the Belle Isle street circuit:
“The challenge is on the rhythm of the track. It has a lot of flow and surface changes that will make driving difficult. Definitely not an easy place to master, but I feel confident in the SFHR team and feel good about what we’ll be able to produce on a new track for the team.”
On getting a good result:
“We’ve got to try to maximize each race week to its fullest so that when we look back at this stretch at the end of the season, we can be proud of what we accomplished with such short turnaround periods.”
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will air live on the ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, June 3.