Max Chilton would love to see North America’s top open-wheel racing series branch out into the world.
“I think that’s what IndyCar needs, is more races internationally,” the 27-year-old Brit said during a recent break from the busy summertime Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.
Chilton, whose racing exploits have taken him to such far-flung locales as Australia, Russia, Asia and virtually everywhere in between, likely won’t be getting his wish any time soon, unless of course IndyCar HQ is secretly scheming to go global.
With that, Chilton will gladly settle for the Honda Indy Toronto, the lone Canadian stop on the calendar and only non-American race on the top North American open-wheel circuit’s calendar. The series rolls onto the Exhibition Place grounds July 13-15, providing a stiff 2.874-kilometre street challenge that drivers consistently rave about each year, not to mention a downtown backdrop with world-class food and nightlife.
“I personally come from Formula 1, seeing different countries, different cultures. I miss that feel of sort of different atmospheres,” Chilton said. “And Canada has a different atmosphere than America, obviously. It just spices it up a little bit.
“The city is just fantastic,” the third-year IndyCar driver added. “It’s quite the market. Everyone’s quite fast on the street. Lovely restaurants and it’s on the lake, so it’s just a really pleasurable week.”
Pleasurable might not be the best descriptor when it comes to Chilton’s 2018 season, but his battle was always going to be uphill all things considered. Chilton is one of two drivers – veteran Charlie Kimball is the other – signed on with Carlin Motorsport, a U.K.-based operation making its IndyCar debut this season.
After two seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing, Chilton has reunited with Trevor Carlin, his former boss in the Indy Lights feeder series, and while an 11th place finish in Detroit is a season-best heading into the Toronto stop, Chilton remains optimistic brighter days are ahead.
Chilton was 15th at last weekend’s Iowa Corn 300, a race that saw Canadian James Hinchcliffe of Oakville claim his first race win of the season and the sixth of his career.
“We’re not where we want to be at the moment. Obviously, we’re not anywhere near the championship and last year I finished 11th in the championship. I was aiming to sort of, at least in our first year, to replicate what I did last year and then move forward,” said Chilton, who drives the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet. “Everyone is working hard behind the scenes. I believe we can get some success with (Carlin), but IndyCar is probably the hardest thing I’ve done, so it’s just going to take some time.”
The relationship with Carlin might be a new one on the IndyCar tracks, but there’s a level of familiarity between driver and owner that should only be beneficial going forward.
“We’re not family, but it feels like we’re a racing family because I’ve known (Trevor) for 10 years and his wife Stephanie,” said Chilton, who had 35 Formula One starts prior to hooking up with Carlin in Indy Lights. “There’s a good understanding of friendship. We’re friends, but we also know how to deal with each other business-wise. It’s a great partnership.
“Every time we’re at the race track, he’ll be over the wall helping out the guys any way he can,” Chilton added of his owner. “Giving the parts to the mechanics, getting the wheel guns out of the way. Just making everyone’s life easier. It is different. I haven’t seen any one else in the paddock doing that sort of thing, but it’s just the way he likes to do it.”
As for Toronto, it’s a race that Chilton is feeling confident about. He finished seventh there last July.
“I like street circuits. I think it’s because I’m a quite focused, and an accurate and precise driver, I think it’s just a track that suits me,” he said. “Having said that, it’s the first year there for Carlin, so we’ll have to try and get on top of the setup quickly. But it was great last year, I made some good progress from the year before. I just can’t wait to get back to Toronto actually.”
It’s all about the Union Jack for Max Chilton and his United Kingdom-heavy Carlin Motorsports team.
While most IndyCar teams employ American and Canadian crews, the team that works on Chilton’s car is made up of about 80% British citizens.
“We’re based in Delray Beach, which is quite different on the IndyCar scene, because most of them are based in Indianapolis or Charlotte,” the U.K.-born Chilton explained. “But the easiest way to attract people over from the U.K. is to say, ‘would you like to move to the sunny beaches of Florida?’ And they will jump at it.
“We do have a high amount of young Brits. We like to have a young team. We think we have a bit more passion.”
Chilton’s commute is a lengthy one, but he makes it work.
“My rule is if I can get four days at home, I’ll fly back to the U.K.,” he said from London during a recent heatwave in which he was desperately seeking refuge. “I haven’t got air-con.”
Source : https://montrealgazette.com/sports/auto-racing/indycar-driver-chilton-giving-max-imum-effort-ahead-of-toronto-indy/wcm/ef91c343-f43c-4038-8e87-1ef3db1ebdb9