Performance Profile: IndyCar Champ Hunter-Reay
FOND DU LAC, Wisc. (June 22, 2017)
Ryan Hunter-Reay is the most successful American driver currently participating in open-wheel competition, with more race wins than all other active American IndyCar drivers combined. With the next race in the IndyCar series taking place just down the road from Q Crew Central at Elkhart Lake’s Road America, Ryan decided to stop by for a visit.
Ryan hanging out with the semi-famous Megan the Intern, who is actually now our newest staff member.
You know that the Q Crew takes performance very seriously, but you probably also know we take having fun equally as serious. So, just to clarify – Ryan is a very fun guy and fits right in with the rest of the Crew. Seriously.
Our conversation with Ryan Hunter-Reay contained us rambling back and forth about the QCREW and who we are, but we also got to see a side of Ryan within that conversation that many do not get to see. We were able to dig deeper and really connect with who he is as a person. We heard his thoughts and experiences about racing, boating, family, and wiring.
Wiring? Read on …
QC: Ryan, thanks for stopping by. The last time we shook hands was at the Miami International Boat Show. It’s nice to see you here at Headquarters in Wisconsin.
RH-R: I’ll be attending a few more big boat shows, too. It’s great. And thanks for having me; it’s great to be here.
QC: Steve McQueen’s famous line is “racing is life, everything else is just waiting,” but your new boat seems to indicate that there is life outside of racing for you. What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not racing?
RH-R: I don’t have a lot of time. With three boys and the racing schedule, the pace is non-stop. It goes from the Daytona 24 Hour in late January all the way till mid-September. In the off-season we’re testing, so there’s not a whole lot of spare time. I’m on an airplane every week. If I get a weekend off here and there I’m on the boat.
QC: I see you’re running with four 350 horsepower Mercury outboards on your boat. So, as one speed junkie to another, is 1400 horsepower really enough?
RH-R: (Laughs) Oh, it’s enough! If you want to go fast with that much weight you’re going to have to have four 350s back there. It will absolutely do the job.
QC: I’m curious about your thoughts on great race drivers – in your opinion, are winning drivers born with the talent to be fast, or is it a learned skill?
RH-R: I think there are a number of different characteristics that go into it. You have to be born with a certain level of hand-eye coordination and talent at racing cars. Then the experience and how you apply that experience to become a better driver and not stay stagnant or complacent with your performance plays a role. It’s like anything else in life, you know, the more you work at it the better you become. Then there are some drivers that take too many risks and don’t come out on the other side of them, and others that take more calculated risks. It’s like personalities in general. I know each of the drivers on the grid I am racing with and I know, usually, how they are going to race me and how I should approach a pass. So it’s tough to say exactly what goes into making a great racing driver.
QC: To sum it all up then, you have to be born with something …
RH-R: And a few wires unplugged (laughs). Anytime you’re doing two hundred and forty miles an hour next to a wall, well, yeah.
QC: Best of luck this weekend at Road America!
RH-R: Thank you. I am thrilled to be back here. Actually, at fifteen and sixteen years old I grew here racing Skip Barber cars here and staying at the inn in Plymouth just down the road.
QC: The Road America carousel [turns 9 and 10. ed.] must feel a little bit like some of the Indy ovals?
RH-R: It does, yeah. It’s odd because we’re going right instead of left, but it’s fifth gear and almost flat out – it’s mind boggling.
Right. After hanging out with Ryan and getting to know him more, we were able to show Ryan around the Q compound. We went over to the engine plant and the Racing division. Now he has a very good understanding of when we’re serious, which is when we’re working and when we’re having fun and when we’re trying to figure out which is which.
Tune in to watch the IndyCar race action this weekend or stop by and say hello in the Road America paddock. Be sure to also follow Ryan on Facebook, Twitter, and at www.ryanracing.com
-The Q Crew