Callum Hedge

Callum Hedge has become an expert in overcoming adversity. While individuals vary in how they address hardship, Hedge has learned how to make the most of the situations.

The latest round of adversity could have Hedge racing from behind at the beginning of the 2024 INDY NXT by Firestone season.

Seat time has been limited with several test sessions being washed out. Even on a day when Hedge could have tested recently at Sebring International Raceway, he needed an emergency appendectomy before arriving at the track, which kept him away from his car.

That was a scary moment for the 20-year-old New Zealand native. Being that young, in a foreign country and without any family on hand to help had him concerned about the situation.

“To be honest, I was actually quite nervous,” he said. “The healthcare system is very different to what it is at home. I was obviously on the other side of the world with a team that I really just met.”

Hedge found a silver lining. This setback allowed him and the race team, HMD Motorsports, to grow closer. As a rookie with a new team, there are a lot of new faces to learn. When adversity struck, those new faces instantly became his family away from home.

It’s a situation he said drew comparisons, not necessarily medically, to what he faced during the global pandemic in 2020. It’s a predicament he admits set him back about three years in his racing journey.

Entering the 2020 racing season, Hedge had his sights set on advancing his racing career in Europe. Early that year, Hedge was visiting Australia, a common trip him, when the borders closed due to the pandemic. He couldn’t get to Europe, back home to New Zealand or out of the country. He was planted in Australia for a while.

Instead of waiting, he lined up rides. That decision wound up paying dividends for his racing career, as he secured a spot in a Porsche single-make championship. That led to more rides, including winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro class title in 2023.

“So, I got stuck in Australia and managed to turn that into a positive where at the end of it we ended up coming out winning that Porsche championship and sort of really taking off,” he said.

Last season, Hedge raced in three series, with success in all. In Formula Regional Americas, Hedge won 13 of 18 races and finished on the podium in 16 races en route to claiming the championship by 105 points. He won the Pro class title in the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. He also finished second in the Formula Regional Oceania Championship with three victories.

Now it’s time for a new path away from Down Under. The new journey took him to the United States for his rookie season in INDY NXT by Firestone.

“I would like to be one of the standout rookies,” he said. “I feel there's going to be a few this year that that will definitely turn a few heads. So, I'd like to be a part of that list.”

Hedge, 20, is taking this next step in his career year-by-year, noting there’s no rush to jump to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. While that’s his dream, he sees this more of a two-year program, noting that most drivers who’ve enjoyed success in INDY NXT return for a second season.

“For me, it's about learning as much as I can,” Hedge said. “I think a realistic goal would be trying to compete in that top five or top six. It would be good. I would like to try and win a race if I can.”

The 2024 INDY NXT by Firestone season starts Sunday, March 10 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.