Calderon sees many familiar faces as Foyt debut approaches

The significance of Tatiana Calderon’s signing by AJ Foyt Racing for the upcoming NTT INDYCAR SERIES season can be measured in multiple ways.

The 28-year-old Colombian, who drives the No. 11 ROKiT Chevrolet, will be the first woman to drive an AJ Foyt car since Super Tex lent Janet Guthrie a spare machine in 1976 for 500 practice laps in Indianapolis. seven years to compete in INDYCAR’s Season Opening Race. Simona De Silvestro was the most recent, driving for Andretti Autosport in the first two races of the 2015 season. De Silvestro was the only woman to compete in INDYCAR last year, making her sixth career start in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Calderon is known to some in the INDYCAR paddock as she began her career in Star Mazda (now Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires) as the Juncos Racing teammate of championship winning Conor Daly in 2010, when she finished 10th. She has also competed in other formulas over the past decade against several other NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, including Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist and fellow rookies Callum Ilott, Christian Lundgaard and Devlin DeFrancesco.

“Yeah, lots of familiar faces,” she said.

Calderon, whose family owns car dealerships in Bogota, has driven nearly a dozen different cars on several continents over the past decade, including an LMP2 sports car with the all-female Richard Mille Racing Team in both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA’s World Endurance Championship. . She has raced in Japan for the past few seasons and made nine starts in the past two years in Super Formula, the series that Palou used as a springboard to INDYCAR. Calderon’s best result was 12th.

“I think Super Formula is a great preparation for any single-seater series,” she said. “It is a super fast car, very difficult (to drive). I also had to learn to communicate differently. The culture (in Japan) was also very different, but I think that prepared me more for this opportunity.”

INDYCAR’s season kicks off on Sunday, February 27 with the Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix presented by RP Funding (Afternoons ET, NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network).

Calderon received her official introduction to INDYCAR during a July 2021 test with AJ Foyt Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Her first test of 2022 was Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway, alongside new teammate and fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood, with INDYCAR veteran Dalton Kellett on hand.

Calderon’s final test for the season is on February 14 in Sebring.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” she said. “But I think it’s been great preparation with Super Formula and sports cars that I’ve been racing with in recent years, to help with fuel economy, tire savings and pit stops and stuff. I think it’s been really good for my career.”

Daly said it’s “crazy to see” how he and Calderon have both ended up in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after all these years.

“She’s been great,” he said. “Her family is amazing, great people across the board.

“I’ve naturally followed her journey since we were teammates. I follow her now and then, speak to her now and then. It’s cool to see what’s going on.”

For now, Calderon will focus on the road courses and street circuits on the INDYCAR calendar. She hopes to test on an oval to “see how I feel, see how my confidence comes with the car.”

“But of course, who wouldn’t love to do the Indy 500 one day?” she said. “(But) we’re just taking it step by step.”

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