Martin Plowman has competed in the Freedom 100 in 2009 and ’10 and driven the Indy Racing Experience two-seater and Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
So the 26-year-old Indianapolis resident has a healthy understanding of the 2.5-mile racetrack, and he has a healthy respect for it as well, which is why he’s looking forward to the Rookie Orientation Program for the 98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 5.
“I heard Dario (Franchitti) say that when he jumped in the car for the first time during practice that he surprised himself. Even he forgot how quick it was into Turn 1. It’s not something you take lightly,” said Plowman, who will drive the No. 41 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing in the 500 Mile Race.
Full-season Verizon Indy Car Series drivers Jack Hawksworth (Bryan Herta Autosport) and Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) will join Plowman and 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing) for the three-phase program required of first-time Indianapolis 500 participants. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who completed his refresher course on the oval April 29 in an Andretti Autosport car, also will get in more laps.
Real-time Timing & Scoring of the morning and afternoon sessions is available on www.indycar.com. The track is open for spectator viewing from the South Terrace Grandstand and Turn 2 viewing mounds.
The Speedway opens for full-scale practice May 11, with qualifications May 17-18. The race is May 25. GET TICKETS
“For some it may seem like pulling teeth going so slowly at first, but I think it’s designed to do a job to protect ourselves from our own expectations because we all want to go out there and be a hero on lap two,” said Plowman, who also is competing in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 in the No. 41 Alfe Heat Treating car for A.J. Foyt Racing.
“Doing this program is forcing us to take our time and to build up speed in a proper manner and not get in over our heads. Of course I want to get up to speed as quickly as possible to get started working, but at the same time I understand why we have to do this and enjoy taking my time getting through the phases in the time allowed to be fully confident in the car and track.
“Driving at 180 mph in an Indy Lights car and the two-seater is very different from driving 220 in an Indy car. There is a methodical approach to it and I can’t wait to get to the real stuff.”
Plowman competed in three Verizon IndyCar Series road course races with AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2011. The previous year, he finished third in the Indy Lights championship for Andretti Autosport with a victory at Mid-Ohio and two other podium finishes.
Plowman then made his mark in sports car racing – earning the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship along with winning the LMP2 class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in 2012 finishing second in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class.
"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. "I've lived in Indianapolis for the last five years, and winning there is what I dream about."
Plowman, who will have Takuma Sato as his teammate, said he’s thrilled to compete for A.J. Foyt Racing, which – in addition to the team owner being the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 – won the 1999 race with driver Kenny Brack.
“To me, racing in my first ‘500’ with A.J. Foyt Racing is just the perfect combination,” he said. “It’s a team that is so passionate and has such a storied history around that track. I can’t think of a better way to make my debut there.”