DALY WAITING FOR BIG BREAK IN INDYCAR
By Zach Tasker
22 year old Conor Daly could be exactly what the IndyCar series is looking for. A native Hoosier with tons of raw talent and experience on a world stage, the second generation racer is looking to make his own mark in the sport. Daly recently has expressed his interest in competing full time in the IndyCar Series. This is a change as for the past few years he was chasing Formula 1 dreams in Europe in the GP3 Series most recently with ART Grand Prix. He finished a very respectable 3rd in championship point standings including a win at the Valencia feature race. 2013 was Daly’s third straight year in GP3, which also featured a cameo race in GP2 in Malaysia, which is just one step away from Formula 1.
However, the increasing astronomical cost it takes to get a driver to Formula 1 has had the Noblesville, Indiana native reassess his racing career. Over the winter he relocated back to Indiana and is now pursuing a full time ride in IndyCar, however that is also becoming an obstacle as most if not every top ride is now accounted for. The off season is usually a tumultuous time for racing drivers, especially those not locked into rides “Essentially you would like to get to a point where you have a ride where you get established at the top and that is what I’m trying. I just need someone to give me a shot at it. I need a chance and I know what I can do, I know what I have learned in Europe over the last three years is way more than I could have learned in America and when I see guys like (Tristan) Vautier and Josef (Newgarden) and they all do so well in IndyCar, I have beat those guys. I know what’s going on and I just would like a shot at it. So that’s what I’m trying to get right now.
So far Daly’s only confirmed race for 2014 has come and gone, he competed in the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona for RSR racing in the prototype challenge class. The team was looking to be on pace for a potential podium finish until contact in the overnight hours put the team out of the race. The 2010 Pro Mazda champion has one IndyCar start under his belt, the granddaddy of them all, the Indianapolis 500. He competed in a 2nd car fielded by AJ Foyt Enterprises and went through a myriad of problems all month, including but not limited to a practice crash, an engine problem during his qualifying run and a fire in his pit stop during the race to still soldier on to a 22nd place finish.
Daly has been on the phone nonstop to IndyCar team owners “When you speak to all the teams they are like Conor we definitely have no doubt in your ability it’s just like oh we need two million dollars and oh we need this and it’s kind of disappointing to hear that in all honesty because I know some teams have the sponsorship but I think they are still looking for pay drivers and I think it’s just not the way it should be done so I’m trying to get myself into somewhere that has the funding and obviously those seats are few and far between, but there are possibly two opportunities out there that could work but you just never know. Time will tell.”
The younger Daly is the son of former Formula 1 and IndyCar star Derek Daly. Conor says his dad has done all he has been able to assist with his racing career “There is nothing he can do because he is not rich, and that’s what I keep reading these random people online commenting on things like “oh Daly’s got it made because he has so much money” and I’m like you guys have no idea what is going on and I love the internet, it’s hilarious. He has kind of done what he can do. I know just as many people as he does now. It’s cool, he has been an awesome guy to have by my side now and we are both kind of just waiting to see what will happen and see if I can get that chance.”
The 2011 Indy Lights Long Beach winner has no regrets on moving away from Europe and pursuing a career in his home country “I think a lot of people are going to regret that they went to F1, because maybe we could raise the money for GP2, maybe. But if you do that, what happens afterwards? No one is showing the support in America to actually fund us. And if you are going to get to F1 the only people that are getting there are bringing 15 to 40 million Euros. There is no future in that, and people in Europe are starting to realize that. Journalists and everyone are starting to see and say wait a second, this is ridiculous. So for me, I wouldn’t regret anything, because I love IndyCar and I love driving and I love racing so the Formula 1 dream never necessarily dies. If you do really well in IndyCar your first two years, I have still have the contacts I have in the Formula 1 teams. I have been contracted to Force India undercover for the last two years. It is never out the question, so we will see.”
Being a young America racing driver and living in Europe is never easy, you have to 100% focus and commitment to your dream. “I was born and raised in America so it’s a big change and it’s a lot of commitment, a lot of sacrifice that you have to make but you have to do it full 100%. You can’t do it halfway. I lived over there for the last three years over the summer, so you have to make the effort and when you do, its respected and the teams see it, so that’s good. But it’s really difficult. I prefer America to Europe any day so it’s really challenging, the cultural changes, the environment, the way people are, the way Americans are treated in different places is not really that great so it’s tough.
Daly would be a great asset to any IndyCar team and would be another personality that IndyCar could use to market, he is always engaging fans on twitter and has a sense of humor, as seen by last May when he publicly asked singer Taylor Swift on a date to the Indy 500, something Daly says he is still waiting on an answer to. Maybe what Swift is waiting on is for Daly to become a full time driver?