Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a periodic series at INDYCAR.com that will focus on NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers’ lives away from the racetrack.
Kyle Kirkwood is the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ decorated rookie driver, the first to win season championships in USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires – and he did it in successive years, albeit with a pandemic-interrupted year mixed in.
Kirkwood will drive the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet of AJ Foyt Racing in 2022, and his series debut will come in his home race, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, Feb. 27, with live coverage starting at noon on NBC, Telemundo and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Kirkwood was born and raised in Jupiter, Florida, which gave him regular access to the Atlantic Ocean and all its sporting endeavors. From surfing to fishing to diving, Kirkwood soaks it up, and he recently gave INDYCAR.com an inside look at his life in the Sunshine State.
Question: Surfing, fishing and diving. Does that sum it up for your interests?
Kirkwood: Yes, that’s what I spend all my time doing outside of racing. (Stab, a surfing magazine, is his favorite Instagram follow.)
Q: What kind of fishing do you enjoy?
Kirkwood: Everything is deep sea fishing. Last week I went swordfishing about 25 miles offshore. I’m actually better at spearfishing than I am at regular fishing because I grew up doing that with my family.
Q: What fish are biting these days?
Kirkwood: Wintertime here is mostly wahoo, swordfish, kingfish and sailfish depending on the wind. And bottom fish, which are (available) all year round. That’s snapper, grouper, stuff like that.
Q: Do you clean and cook the fish yourself?
Kirkwood: I can clean fish however you want it. I’ve known how to do that since I was probably 10 years old, and I can cook all the fish – anything you want.
Q: Is fish your favorite food?
Kirkwood: One hundred percent. If I ever did a diet, it would be pescatarian. (A plant-based diet of whole grains and nuts, with seafood as the main protein source.)
Q: Do you seek out good fish at restaurants as you travel?
Kirkwood: I rarely eat fish out. I usually only eat fish that I catch or someone I’m with catches – or unless I know the person, and I know it’s fresh.
Q: What is your diving experience?
Kirkwood: I’d say my deepest dive was 100 feet, without a tank. Just fins, weight belt and a mask.
Q: Do you have a boat?
Kirkwood: When COVID hit, I bought a boat and rewired it and put new electronics in with all these speakers. I had some fun with that; I’m pretty handy when it comes to that. I also did a lot of fiberglass work on it. I used to build my own diving fins, these big 4-foot-long blades. I started making some of those and I’ve always fixed surf boards and fiberglass on boats. I’m pretty handy with fiberglass.
Q: Any Floridian worth his salt makes Key lime pie. Do you?
Kirkwood: I do make the best Key lime pie, but … I’m not going to make Key lime pie for everyone because it was a struggle just making two (recently). I squeeze all the Key limes myself, and they’re about this big each (2 inches). So, you have to (squeeze) about 100 to get three-quarters of a cup of lime juice. It’s a long process.