Ed and Heather Carpenter have three children who keep them on the go away from the race track.
It’s a welcome deviation from the normal work routine for the NTT IndyCar Series’ only owner/driver. Although Carpenter, 38, is known for his calm demeanor, he attributes an understanding of the need for patience to lessons learned as a parent.
“Race car drivers are impatient beings to begin with,” Carpenter said. “Having kids was good for my patience because it forces you -- they’re kids, they’re not going to listen all the time, they’re not going to learn as quickly as other people. Raising a family does help you become better at being patient and remaining calm and dealing with chaos, because there’s always chaos with kids.
“We’re really lucky. Our kids travel with us a lot. They’re here, they like being at the race track, but it also allows them to explore the country and see a lot of cool things and get kind of an alternative education outside of what they get at school, just seeing the world. There’s cool things everywhere we go.”
When they’re home, Makenna, Ryder and Cruz are each into their own things.
“Makenna is 11 now,” Carpenter said. “She’s by far the most motivated and hard working of our kids, which probably has to do with the fact that she’s a girl and she’s the oldest. She’s a gymnast. She’s very committed to that. She’s definitely an athletic type, vey active.
“They all are (athletic), for that matter. Both boys play hockey. Our youngest Cruz is playing football for the first time this year. Ryder, the middle one, is just playing hockey. He doesn’t get much interested in anything else. The best part about hockey is the season pretty much lines up with (INDYCAR's) offseason, so I can be there for it.”
As hectic as the racing season schedule can be for Carpenter, so too is keeping up with their children’s activities.
“You try not to have your life revolve around your kids’ schedule, but we’re kind of in that phase of life where that’s the way it is,” he said. “They all have outside of school a schedule: sports practices, games and social events, everything that keeps us pretty busy away from the race track.”
Carpenter has three career NTT IndyCar Series race wins and is often remembered most for winning the pole for three Indianapolis 500s. His best result in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was second in 2018.
Carpenter was born in Illinois before moving to Indianapolis at a young age. He considers the Hoosier State capital his hometown. He is a Butler University graduate.
So much of his life has been about racing, but the foundation for that life is family.
“For sure, kids give you balance and help you keep things in perspective,” Carpenter said. “My job raising them is far more important than my job driving race cars. But it’s also fun. When your kids get to this age, you end up kind of developing another set of friends just from parents at school to parents on teams they’re on, we travel for gymnastics and hockey now, so we travel with other families. We’ve been really fortunate to meet a lot of really cool people and develop new relationships and circle of friends around sports. It makes it fun to share that with all of those other families.”
What’s the key to being a good parent? Carpenter says everyone needs to figure that out for themselves.
“It’s definitely something that you have to learn on the fly,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what books you read or anything like that. From having one to three children, by the time you get to three, you definitely know what to expect. Each kid is different and has their own personality and challenges, how they need to be dealt with and disciplined, etc.
“Every mom and dad parenting couple has their own style. It’s easy to judge other people for how they’re raising their kids, but that’s why we all have our own families. We can make the decision on how we want to try to raise them.”
How does Carpenter as a father compare to his father?
“I’m probably more like my mom was raising me,” he said. “I feel like I have a good relationship with all my kids, but I’m also harder on them than I should be at times. That’s probably a function of how my mom was with me, and I think it turned out OK. So much of how we parent, I think, we learn from our parents.
“Heather and I grew up in totally different households. We kind of bring those styles together. So far, so good. Our kids are excelling in school and seem to be good humans and hopefully we can keep them on that path.”
INDYCAR.com has been spending several Mondays profiling the NTT IndyCar Series drivers who are fathers. Next week: Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing.