By: Spencer Neff
February 28, 2019 | 6:57 AM
Colton Herta represents an interesting bridge between the past and the future of the NTT IndyCar Series.
Those who follow IndyCar know Herta’s father, Bryan, a former IndyCar driver. Bryan is now co-owner of Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajainian.
At 18, the Valenica, California-native is the youngest of this year’s rookies (he turns 19 on March 30). He is also the first IndyCar driver born in the new millenium.
He begins racing with a three-year karting stint that includes stops in the SKUSA and IKF series. Herta’s single-seater racing career started in the 2013 SBF2000 Winter Series.
In 2014, Herta ascends to USF2000 with JAY Motorsports. Despite missing the opening weekend (age limit), Herta earns two top-five and six top-10 finishes in the final 12 races. He ends the year 15th in points.
For 2015, Herta moves overseas and joins the MSA Formula Series. He earns four victories and finishes third in the points standings. Additionally, Herta’s efforts help the United States win the Nations’ Cup.
Herta’s 2016 plans to move on to the BRDC British F3 are later shelved due to the age limit. He then made the decision to compete full-time in the Euroformula Open Championship with Carlin Motorsport.
Thanks to a season that included four victories, two additional podium finishes and five pole positions, he finishes third in points. Herta also enters six British Formula 3 events. During his time there, he scores a victory (Brands Hatch) and three podiums.
In 2017, Herta’s childhood friend George Michael Steinbrenner IV teams up with Andretti Autosport to form an Indy Lights team. Andretti Steinbrenner Racing fields Herta full-time for their first Indy Lights season.
He earns two victories in his first four starts (St. Petersburg 2 and Barber Motorsports Park 2), six pole positions and four more podiums. Herta ends his freshman campaign third in points.
Remaining with ASR for 2018, Herta continued to improve. He swept all three events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, and in June, Herta extended his win streak to four with a win at the first Road America event.
Although he earns six runner-up finishes in the final eight events, Herta did not win after Road America. His effort during the year is enough to earn him second in points.
At the September 17 season finale in Sonoma, Herta made his IndyCar debut with Harding Racing. He starts 19th and completes all 85 laps finishing 20th.
Two days later, Steinbrenner Racing officially joined forces with Harding Racing for 2019.
“The 2018 IndyCar season has been a tremendous learning experience for me,” Mike Harding expressed. “Now I am eager to join with Steinbrenner Racing and create the powerhouse team I know Harding Racing can be.”
Steinbrenner expressed his excitement regarding his team’s move up to IndyCar.
“I am extremely excited to make the leap into the IndyCar Series,” said Steinbrenner IV.
“Since I was a kid, it has been my goal to be a team owner in the IndyCar Series and I’m so excited to be doing that with Harding Racing.”
Herta also echoed the sentiments expressed by Harding and Steinbrenner. Additionally, he emphasized how his debut at Sonoma excited him for 2019.
“I am so thrilled to finally announce the plans for next year,” exclaimed Herta.
“I know it’s been a long time coming. After having a good time in Sonoma and dipping my feet into IndyCar, it makes me way more enthusiastic than I was before. There is a lot to do, but I’m ready to get my head down and focus forward for the 2019 IndyCar season.”
Before the IndyCar season, Herta also entered the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. He did so in the GTLM class with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Driving with Connor De Phillippi, Augusto Farfus and Philipp Eng. The team earns the GTLM class victory.
During the February 12 and 13 open test at Circuit of The Americas, Herta gives an impressive performance. He leads three of four test sessions and finishes second in the final one.
Herta’s performance comes on the heels of HSR’s announced technical partnership with Andretti.
If the team can continue on that path, Herta may have several performances like that down the road.
Header Image By John Cote/INDYCAR