By: Tanner Watkins
December 20, 2018 | 8:00 AM
Just like The Little Engine That Could, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is plugging away at a return to the Indianapolis 500 – and eventually – full-time IndyCar Series competition.
Since its final full season in 2012, Dennis Reinbold’s team has spent the last six years building around the month of May at Indianapolis. With drivers such as Oriol
This past May, the team expanded to two cars for the Indianapolis 500 when veteran J.R. Hildebrand was brought aboard to run alongside Karam. It was the team’s first two-car effort at the Indianapolis 500 since 2011.
When asked about his Indianapolis 500 plans for 2019, Karam was confident he would return with Dreyer & Reinbold as the team aims for a similar program employed in 2018.
“Things are looking really good for May,” said Karam. “I would expect that we’ll probably be back and get that deal done again. Obviously, I can’t stay too much but I know that it is moving in the right direction, I can say that. I think their goal is to have two cars again at the ‘500’, which would be great.”
Spending the month of May with Hildebrand, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 runner-up, Karam enjoyed the perks of having an Indy teammate for just the second time in his career.
“I loved having a teammate last year,” Karam exclaimed. “(It was) my fifth ‘500’ and just my second one with a teammate. Having a teammate really smoothed out all the early month pains and qualifying pains a little bit more. And especially with last year – having a new car and everything – it would have been a much greater challenge for us with one car as opposed to two.
“It was good that we had J.R. in there. I enjoyed working with J.R. so it would be cool to have him back, but I don’t know what his end is, so we will see.”
Still holding the competitive fire within, Karam notes that Reinbold’s eventual goal is a return to full-time competition. An exit from the now-defunct Global RallyCross Championship could be one domino that frees up resources and time for the small team moving forward.
The end result is a greater chance at running more races than just Indianapolis next season.
“With Dennis, he’s reiterated to me a bunch of times that their goal is to become full time again, that’s what they want to do,” says the 23-year-old Karam.
“The last two years, they were involved pretty heavily with G.R.C. With G.R.C. folding, I think it kind of leaves those guys a little bored over there. I think their whole goal has shifted now to, ‘How are we going to get full time? What do we have to do to do it?’
“Since May, I’ve seen them working harder than ever to accomplish that. They’ve always said they wanted to go do more races, and I’ve always said it, but I think now we are really putting both our minds together and figuring out what the next step is. Asking questions like, ‘How can we make this happen? Who are you talking to? Who are we talking to? Are we making any headway?’ Then saying, ‘This is what we’ve got, and this is what I’ve got.’
“We’re just really, really working together, and I think there’s a good potential that we could be doing more than just the Indy 500 next year.”
While a full-time effort is not in the cards for Dreyer & Reinbold in 2019, if the team is able to align with a handful of races next season and complete them without too much trouble, a 2020 program could grow from there.
“I think our goal for next year would be to do between six and eight races,” Karam stated. “I think that would be a good goal to get our feet wet and get those guys back up to speed with doing more than just one IndyCar race per season.
“(Also), I think if we were to do that it would probably be on road courses because the risk isn’t as high on road courses with a smaller team that’s trying to get back into it,” Karam later explains. “If you hit a wall on a road course, most likely it’s going to be a lot less crash damage than if you hit one on an oval.”
And while Karam understands this business enough to know there’s still work to be done towards 2019, the Pennsylvania native is upbeat given next year’s prospects.
I would say that this year – this offseason – is probably the most confident and the best place that I’ve been, as far as going into a new year with trying to find more races and stuff like that,” says Karam.
“As far as finding sponsors, I still need some luck and I still need some help, but we have some good stuff cooking.”
Header image by James Black/INDYCAR.