SEBRING, Fla. -- A well-timed email, Martin Plowman believes, helped pave the way to doing the “Indy Double” in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 26-year-old Englishman will drive the Honda-powered No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing car with primary sponsorship from Al-Fe Heat Treating in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the No. 41 ABC Supply car in the Indianapolis 500, the team announced Feb. 17.
Plowman will test at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 19 and on the reconfigured Indianapolis road course April 30. Full-season driver Takuma Sato is testing Feb. 17 and 19 at Sebring.
Plowman and A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt got acquainted during the Indy 500 Centennial Tour three Februaries ago and Foyt "kept an eye on Martin ever since."
"When you spend 12 days traveling and sleeping on an airplane you get to know people very well," said Plowman, who was watching Sato in the No. 14 ABC Supply car on the Sebring short course. "Ever since then I've kept in contact with Larry and every once in a while send him a cheeky text. This offseason I didn't know if I'd ever get to to the '500' and I just emailed him. I'm just elated and thankful for this opportunity. Hopefully, I'll live up to expectations."
Foyt took it from there with the driver who last year won the FIA World Endurance Championship along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Plowman competed in three IndyCar Series races with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2011.
"Martin did a nice job without much seat time in the few IndyCar (Series) races he participated in, and has had great results in a tough sports car division. I think he is a great fit," Foyt said.
Plowman has competed on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval twice in Indy Lights, finishing fifth in the 2010 Freedom 100 for Andretti Autosport. He went on to finish third in the series championship.
"Once my career took me to sports cars I was concerned that I would never get the chance to race at and win the Indy 500,” Plowman said. “Winning at Le Mans last year was an incredible feeling that can only be beaten by one day adding my face to the Borg-Warner Trophy. I've lived in Indianapolis for the last five years, and winning there is what I dream about."
The venture marks the first time that Al-Fe Heat Treating will be the primary sponsor of an IndyCar Series car. The Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company began as an associate sponsor in 2011.
"We at Al-Fe Heat Treating are very excited about being a primary sponsor with A.J. Foyt Racing for IndyCar’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in our home state and before our home crowd,” said Kurt Westman, President of Al-Fe Heat Treating. “Larry and I have discussed this possibility over the last season and we feel this is the perfect venue for us to step up with the team.
"Being part of bringing Martin back to IndyCar is special and having him run both races at Indianapolis will allow us to build momentum and teamwork going into the ‘500.' ''