Lucas Luhr, the only American Le Mans Series driver to have won championships in three categories, enthusiastically endorses running a full IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2014.
“For me, it’s very clear. If I had the opportunity to do a full season in INDYCAR I’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m in.’ There’s no question about it,” said Luhr, who will get his initial IZOD IndyCar Series seat time during a manufacturer/team test Aug. 13 at Sonoma Raceway. “Even if you do a full season in Indy car racing you have opportunities to do the long races in sports car racing. If that was the case, it would be a dream come true even in my old age.”
Luhr, who turned 34 on July 22, and co-driver Klaus Graf lead the ALMS P1 class in the HPD ARX-03a for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing following their win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport) on July 21. Luhr’s next race is Aug. 11 at Road America, and the series joins the IZOD IndyCar Series on the streets of Baltimore on Labor Day weekend.
In between, Luhr will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the No. 97 Honda-powered car prepared by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 25.
The Aug. 13 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) preview is free to the public. Teammate Josef Newgarden will log laps in the No. 97 entry before Luhr takes over after the midday break.
Scheduled to share the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course are Andretti Autosport (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and E.J. Viso), A.J. Foyt Racing (Takuma Sato), Dale Coyne Racing (Justin Wilson), Dragon Racing (Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra), Ed Carpenter Racing (Ed Carpenter), Panther Racing (driver TBA) and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (James Jakes and Graham Rahal).
Luhr will get additional track time Aug. 21 during an IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test, which will be open to race ticket-holders or those purchasing race tickets that day. The first practice session of the weekend is 11-11:45 a.m. (local) Aug. 23.
“The competition in INDYCAR this year is extremely tight and it’s a big challenge, especially with three-quarters of the season already over,” said the German, who will have his ALMS race engineer, Brandon Fry, along for the Sonoma events for continuity. “I look forward to it to getting in the car and get the first feeling for it and then do the race.
“I’ve raced there in the past but nothing like this. I’ve raced GT cars and with a prototype, which was more like a roll out and not really pushing it. Brandon has been involved in Champ Car and INDYCAR (Conquest Racing, Forsythe Championship Racing, Walker Racing Interactive, RuSport and Herdez); he’s there to give me a familiar voice on the radio. At least that is a known factor in so many unknowns and new things for me. I have to learn a lot in a very short amount of time.
“I understand it technically and from the driving point of view, and now I have to get to know how the car reacts.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's partnership with RW Motorsports led to the opportunity to add a car for the 85-lap race. Newgarden, the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion, heads into the race off a 23rd-place finish (mechanical issue early in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio).
“I’ve always wanted to try Indy car and I never really pushed for it to happen," said Luhr, who met team personnel and had a seat fitting this week. "When this opportunity came up I said, ‘Of course, I’m in.’ It’s good for a team to have four eyes and to have two drivers share the work, have double the amount of data and two opinions Overall, that can be helpful.
“At the end of the day a car is a car and I’ve been in and out of several cars the last several years. I’ve worked with big manufacturers like Porsche and Audi but also have worked with small teams. I hope I can bring something that Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing can use in the future.”
Multiple race weekend ticket packages will be available at the test session, including the Brasil IT+ Total Access Package that includes a race day Q&A session with Bobby and Graham Rahal, reserved ticket and a garage/pit/pre-race pass. Children 12 and under will be admitted free and parking is free.
For more info, visit racesonoma.com/indycar or call 800-870-RACE (7223).