How has the Indy 500 evolved and changed in the last decade? Find out from Q&A with Stefan Johansson!
How has the Indy 500 evolved and changed in the last decade? Find out from Scuderia Corsa Sporting Director and veteran Indy 500 driver Stefan Johansson as he shares his thoughts on his experience running from Formula 1, IndyCar and SportsCar racing.
Q: For a driver who grew up in the European racing scene, how different was the first time you came to the Indy 500?
A: It was a big Impression to go out on the track the first time. It’s much bigger than you can ever appreciate when you see it on TV. The first few laps you think there is no way in a million years I will be able to take these corners flat out, but little by little you get used to it and eventually it felt very comfortable to push the car to its limits. It’s a track like nothing else in the world and it’s something every driver must experience in order to have a complete career, in my opinion.
Q: What are the emotions and thoughts going on in driver’s heads just before the start of a race?
A: I think every driver is probably different in this case. For me personally, I always tried to get into a kind of meditative state where there is complete stillness before I get in the car. I don’t like any thoughts to clutter my mind at that point. All the preparation is already done and you can never predict what will happen once the flag drops, at that point you have to rely on instinct and feel and it always worked best for me to just have a totally clear mind and be as loose as possible.
Q: What are some of the storylines and trends you’ll be watching over the next couple of weeks at Indy?
A: I think the focus will be on what the top speeds will be in qualifying and also there are a lot of very good rookies in the race. At Indy you never know what can happen and it seems every year there are always many surprises and the story line seems to change almost daily.
Q: You’ve been involved in the infamous “bump day” before, how stressful will qualifying be for drivers this year?
A: Qualifying at Indy is hands down then most impressive experience a racing driver can have. It brings out the best and the worst in all of us. The last bump Day I did I had to try nine times before we finally made it. Mentally you are completely worn out after this experience, because the car is so on the limit and some runs I literally didn’t know if the car were going to stick or not entering turn 1 on the first lap.
Q: Your era of racing in IndyCar ran similar speeds to today, how different were the cars in the 1990′s from now?
A: They were awesome cars with an almost perfect balance of grip versus power. I remember in qualifying with the boost turned up the rear wheels were actually spinning on the exit of turn 2 at over 200mph!