By: Spencer Neff
February 25, 2019 | 7:26 AM
Of the five drivers scheduled for their first full or part-time season in the NTT IndyCar Series, Ben Hanley is unique.
At 34, Hanley is by far the oldest of the freshman crop of drivers in 2019. Confirmed for just five races of the 17-race calendar, Hanley is also the only one not expected to race the full schedule (let’s not discuss Pato O’Ward for now).
Hanley’s team, DragonSpeed LLC, joins the IndyCar ranks after nearly a decade in sports car racing. The Manchester, England native’s racing career began in Cadet Karting. In 1996, he earns the vice-championship in the series.
By 2000, Hanley makes it to the top of the JICA ranks. In his senior karting career, Hanley earned the Vice F.A. European Championship, and with his success, moved up to the factory team at Maranello Karting.
Included in Hanley’s career highlights are 3 Winter Cup wins, a Margutti Trophy win, 2 Vice World Champions, 4 world championship podiums and a European Championship in the OK category in 2015.
Following his karting career, Hanley move on to the Formula Renault Series in Europe.
In 2005, Hanley earns four podiums (six wins) and two pole positions en route to a third-place finish in Formula Renault 2.0 Italia for Cram Competition. In Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 for Cram Competition that year, Hanley picks up an additional two podium finishes.
The following season, Hanley and Cram Competition move on to Formula Renault 3.5 together. In 2006, Hanley earn two podiums at the Misano doubleheader, including his first series victory to begin the weekend. After finishing the season eighth in points, he moves to Prema Powerteam,
The 2007 season brings more success for Hanley and Prema. Hanley earns two victories (Magny-Cours and Catalunya) as part of six podium finishes, and he ends the year 27 points short of the championship in a runner-up effort.
For 2008, Hanley transitions to the GP2 Series. After earning just one podium finish during his time in GP2 Asia, Hanley quickly moved to Superleague Formula. Driving for Fisichella Motorsport, Hanley earned a victory (Magny Cours) and an additional podium finish.
The 2010 season brings even more change for Hanley.
In the Superleage Formula Series, Hanley triumphs at the first race in the tripleheader at Ordos International Circuit in Ordos City, China. That year, Hanley also starts his role as a development driver, doing so for GP2 and Pirelli until 2013.
Hanley remains with Pirelli through 2015, although his role does transition to include GP3. Audi makes Hanley a part of their Young Driver Test. Hanley also plays a hand in testing the NextEV Formula E car.
In 2016, Hanley returns to a full-time driving role. This time he does so for DragonSpeed’s LMP2 team in the European Le Mans Series. Hanley, alongside teammates Henrik Hedman and Nicolas Lapierre, wins the race at Spa-Francorchamps. By season’s end, the team secures fourth place in points.
Hanley and DragonSpeed’s ELMS trio make their Rolex 24 at Daytona debut in early 2017, but do not finish the race.
The team goes winless that season in ELMS despite netting two poles and a podium finish. However, Hanley earns a podium with CEFC Manor TRS Racing in the 6 Hours of Mexico.
In June, Hanley and Hedman team up with Felix Rosenqvist to make DragonSpeed’s debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team’s Oreca07-Gibson finishes 14th overall (12th in LMP2 class). Like Hanley, Rosenqvist will be making his NTT IndyCar Series debut at St. Petersburg.
In 2018, Hanley and DragonSpeed earn consecutive podiums for the first time since 2016. Runner-up finishes at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps propel the team to a seventh-place finish in points. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Hanley and Hedman team up with Renger van der Zande, but do not finish the race.
In January, Hanley returned at the 24 Hours of Daytona with DragonSpeed. This time, James Allen joined the team. The four drivers earned a third-place finish in the LMP2 category. With DragonSpeed’s second entry winning the small class, the team sees both entries on the podium.
The move to open-wheel racing is a new venture for DragonSpeed. Hanley and team owner Elton Julian have been quick to emphasis as much. Julian did also express a great deal of confidence in his team and Hanley when announcing his plans.
“There are some impressive open-wheel credentials up and down the team, and Ben’s pace and exceptional detail feel for setup and tires should be a great asset,” Julian said in December.
This year, the team’s schedule includes St. Petersburg, Barber, the Indianapolis 500, Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is working towards their goal of a full-time entry in 2020.
With an experienced team and impressive resume with him, Hanley will be worth watching during his visits to the NTT IndyCar Series this season.
Header Image By European Le Mans Series (ELMS)