Today's Six Quick Questions are with Indy Lights driver Philip Major! Philip was an Indy Lights rookie in 2010, and finished 3rd at Chicago for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in his best finish of the year. He also finished 6th in his oval debut at the Firestone Freedom 100, while finishing 8th for the season in overall points. Philip was kind enough to take a bit of his time this holiday season to fill us in on his rookie season in Lights, his thoughts on the Road to Indy, his racing background, and much more.
Thanks for the Q&A, Philip. What’s your journey to Indy Lights been like thus far?
PM: It’s great to see the Road to Indy program in place now because it has given drivers a clear cut path to IndyCar. A few years ago the path for me to Firestone Indy Lights (FIL) was vague since there where many different series in which I might have competed. Like most racers I started racing karts in and around Canada mostly before moving into a formula car. A Formula 3 was the last racecar I drove before jumping into a FIL car and I can tell you there was a big difference. Right now it seems to me that the FIL and IndyCar series are the places to be because there are many opportunities for drivers and teams.
You’re originally from Canada—how much time do you split between home and Indy during the season and offseason?
PM: During the season I am based mainly in Indianapolis for a variety of reasons. Most FIL teams, such as Sam Schmidt Motorsports, are located in Indianapolis and for me it is important to be able to visit the team’s shop daily. There are also some great fitness programs in the area like PitFit Training which are crucial for drivers who must maintain a high level of fitness. A large percentage of the races are close to Indy which makes traveling logistics much easier at times. During the season I do find time to go home but not as often as I would like. In the offseason I like to spend most of my time back home in Canada but I am always ready to travel somewhere when duty calls.
Looking back through your career this point, what’s been your favorite race and race track, and why?
PM: The first time I ever raced on an oval was this year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and that was the experience of a lifetime. IMS is absolutely my favourite track. The first time you strap into a car on that track you get goose bumps just thinking of the heritage and what that track means to so many people. I finished 6th at the Freedom 100 this year, and am eager to return next year with what I have learned. I have some unfinished business there.
What’s your reaction to the latest updates to the Road to Indy program? Would you make any specific steps to make the transition or road to IndyCar easier?
PM: As I said before the Road to Indy program is great since it has defined an ideal path for young drivers to reach the IndyCar series. Seeing the IndyCar series get new chassis and engine manufactures involved is great but it raises the question about the older FIL cars. To keep the ladder series strong there needs to be more prize money throughout the season to help teams and drivers alike with their racing budgets. The FIL series must also have its own TV schedule on a decent network to help promote drivers and their sponsors. Other than that the only thing this program needs now is a karting series.
How are things shaping up for 2011? Will we see you back with Sam Schmidt Motorsports?
PM: My intentions are to race in the FIL series in 2011 and we have been working very hard to make this possible. Sam Schmidt Motorsports is a great team, one that any driver would be privileged to drive for. At this point in time it is in my best interest to keep all my negotiations on the down low, but as soon as I know what my plans are I will let you know.
Looking back through the 2010 season, how would you rate yourself as a driver at the start of the season versus the end of it? In what areas do you feel you made the biggest breakthroughs?
PM: From the start to the end of the season I gained more confidence in my team, especially on the ovals which translated into some good results. One thing about ovals I figured out early on was the more I drove on them the less I realized I knew about them. This made it important to get as much seat time on them as possible to speed up the learning curve. Looking forward to next season I feel much more at ease with the knowledge and experience I have gained with both the car and the tracks.
Thanks again to Philip for the interview! You can find him at http://www.majorspeed.com/ or on Twitter: @majorspeed.