Hig Roberts took the ride of a lifetime last weekend in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, teaming up with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to celebrate Pride Month and promote inclusivity across the action-sports industry, including INDYCAR.
Roberts was on hand Saturday and rode in the Ruoff Mortgage Fastest Seat in Sports on Saturday, June 12 before Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit. The two-time U.S. national champion alpine skier became the first elite alpine skier to publicly come out as gay last year in an interview with The New York Times.
“It was an amazing honor to be here during Pride Month and to represent the community,” Roberts said. “It’s an experience that I thought that I could understand just because of my background in skiing, but it was all that plus much more.”
Roberts was jolted around the bumpy, 14-turn, 2.35-mile street circuit on Belle Isle, located in the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, in the two-seater NTT INDYCAR SERIES car driven by Davey Hamilton prior to the start of the race.
As he hustled around the course, Roberts said his instincts for speed, strength and focus, which he experienced often in his career as he barreled down slopes, were front of mind. While the alpine skiing and INDYCAR industries are different, there are similarities that Roberts said he felt, giving him a greater appreciation for NTT INDYCAR SERIES athletes.
“I felt very competitive in the car like you do in skiing, but a lot faster, obviously,” he said. “It’s different to be driven by something instead of your body doing all the work. Pretty similar in terms of the g-forces and setup for turns. It was great.”
Roberts, 30, said growing the bond between the LGBTQ+ community and sports leagues and series like INDYCAR is extremely important. He said reasons like this are why he publicly came out as gay last fall; to create positive environments, promote inclusivity and build opportunities for everyone.
“I think it’s an incredibly important thing (that sports continue to be more inclusive),” he said. “It’s a big reason that I want to be here, especially in the action sport world. I come from a very similar type of setup of a sport with big support teams, lots of staff, lots of money, lots of effort, and there’s not a lot of people speaking up about it, and I hope we can continue to expand opportunities for more people in sports.”
Roberts’ inclusion in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES weekend wasn’t the only Pride Month celebration. Andretti Autosport announced last Friday Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda will feature the multi-colored pride flag in all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races during June.
He sported the colors on his way to 21st- and 11th-place finishes, respectively, at the Raceway at Belle Isle. He will also race with the pride flag on his car this Sunday at Road America (noon ET, LIVE on NBCSN).
And in the latest step in INDYCAR and IMS’ Race for Equality and Change, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway participated in Indy Pride’s 2021 Virtual Pride Festival to celebrate Pride Month last weekend. It was the first activity in an exciting new partnership between IMS and Indy Pride, Inc., the organization that produces events that educate, honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Central Indiana.