This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Jarett Andretti looks back on his debut season in Pirelli World Challenge and tells us what he’d like to accomplish in his sports car career.
What were your impressions of your season in Pirelli World Challenge?
“I was thankful to get the opportunity to race in TCR.
“Everything I’ve done in the past couple of years has been rear wheel drive, on dirt, open wheel, and now I’m coming over here and doing front wheel drive road racing, all on pavement.
“It couldn’t have been any different to what I had been doing previously.
“I showed up and had almost no road racing experience and to get out there and run some of these places, especially with the caliber of drivers that are in our class and basically factory efforts from Hyundai and Honda, to be competitive was a lot of fun.
“I think the splitting of the DSG Cup and the sequential will provide great racing and be a huge benefit to the series.
“Really, I just had a ton of fun racing. I enjoyed it. We ran pretty good a couple of places and I thought it was a pretty good season.”
How did this opportunity to race in Pirelli World Challenge come about?
“I’ve been looking to go road racing for awhile. I really wanted to do some road racing and I needed some experience, so I’d been looking at sports cars.
“I was actually working on one of my race cars one day and David Tilton walked in. He is a partner in Alexander Rossi’s Indy car and he owns Takuma Sato’s Indy 500 winning car.
“So I was in the shop, and we work out of Andretti Autosport’s shop for our sprint cars, so I was back there working on my sprint car one morning.
“Everybody that walks into my area, I don’t know if they run a company, if they are homeless off the street, it doesn’t matter to me, I always tell them the same thing.
“I said I wanted to go sports car racing and that I wanted to take the next step in my career.
“David said that he has a sports car team and asked if I wanted to drive for it. David really made it all happen for me and he’ll be a part of our program next year as well.”
How challenging was it to run both PWC and sprint cars in the same season?
“It was just differences in how the sanctioning bodies run.
“When I showed up to the World Challenge races, I had to get all my gear approved again and you had to learn where pre-grid is and all this stuff that I’m not used to from sprint cars. It’s just different.
“It was really enjoyable for me to swap back and forth because the paddocks are totally different. The people who run the series are totally different.
“It’s really interesting to go to the different places and get a different perspective of racing when you step out of where you’re comfortable and go to other sanctioning bodies.
Do your dirt track friends want to talk to you about your sports car program and vice versa?
“I think one of the people who was most excited when I got the road racing opportunity was the guy who built my sprint car chassis. He was so excited!
“He makes his whole living in dirt racing and building dirt cars, and he was super excited and asking where he could watch the PWC races this year.
“On the sports car side, I’m friends with Gar Robinson from Robinson Racing, and he actually came to Kokomo at the end of last year and watched sprint cars run. He’s going to come visit some more races next year.
“It’s funny because it’s two totally different worlds, and when you can expose one to the other it’s fun to see the reaction.”
Where would you like to see your road racing career take you?
“I’m not really too picky. I really am looking forward to the GT4 stuff next year with our partners Endurance Warranty Services. They’ve come on as a partner this year and I’m excited to bringing them into the sport.
“We’re just trying to take the next step. Obviously I’d like to get to GT3 and maybe into prototype racing, but I really love the way World Challenge is.
“I think they have a fantastic schedule. Coming from my background, I want to run as much as possible every weekend if I can.”