DragonSpeed Racing wins the contest for the coolest team name ever. Yes, I am saying this team’s name is better than teams named after INDYCAR legends. I don’t know who is in charge of their livery and merchandise, but if doesn’t feature a dragon, I will be really upset.
Who is this team that announced just a few short months ago they’d be joining INDYCAR? DragonSpeed primarily is a sports car team, founded here in the United States back in 2007. The team had fits and starts in their Sports car Program up until 2014. While founded in 2007, I was unable to find any type of entry or results between 2007 and 2011. It appears the team debuted in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona by participating in the GT category, finishing fifteenth in their class. Then the team didn’t race in 2012 and moved over to the 2013 American Le Mans Series in the prototype class. It was a part-time schedule for the team and they finished the series in sixth place. They then switched to the Pirelli World Challenge in 2014 competing in that series for both the 2014 and 2015 season.
Starting 2016 the team moved their focus to the LeMans Prototype (a good explanation of the cars is HERE). The team competed in the European Le Mans series in both 2016 and 2017 finishing fourth and eighth. In 2018 the team added the FIA World Endurance Championship to their race schedule. As a weird tie-in to INDYCAR, Pietro Fittipaldi was driving for DragonSpeed racing when he suffered his unfortunate crash at Spa-Francorchamps.
On December 17th of 2018, the team announced they would be putting their toes into the INDYCAR series with driver Ben Hanley.
Ben Hanley has driven for DragonSpeed on their Sports Car team. His Sports Car resume is impressive, he achieved a first-place finish at the 2016 Spa-Francorchamps in the LMP2 class. He was 19th in the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours and then earned a third-place class finish in the LMP2 class for the 2019 Rolex (you can read the write up on that race HERE and yes I know there was only four LMP2s in that race). In another interesting tie-in to INDYCAR, Hanley competed in the 2017 Le Mans alongside Felix Rosenqvist (my choice for Rookie of the Year, you can hear our 2019 Preview Episode HERE and read about Felix Rosenqvist HERE) and came in 12th in their class. Hanley has some open-wheel experience behind him. He started in the Formula Renault series, earning an 8th place finish in 2006 (Formula Renault 2.0 Italia) and a second place finish in 2007 (Formula Renault 3.5 Series). He also spent a few years in the GP2 and other open-wheel series through 2010. There’s a gap in his resume before he moved to DragonSpeed in 2016. He’ll be thirty-four at the start of the 2019 INDYCAR series, but he will be one of many rookies competing.
In 2019 the team, powered by Chevrolet, will be competing in five races. They will be competing in St. Petersburg, Barber, the Indianapolis 500, Road America, and Mid-Ohio. The explanation is this will allow the team to keep their commitment to the WEC calendar. I have concerns because it seems like the team is not fully having a commitment to INDYCAR. I am understanding of teams having different programs (as many do), but Hanley will be competing in INDYCAR and multiple sports car programs. The team has only one oval on their schedule, and a few other ovals do not conflict with WEC and the European Le Mans series, including DXC and Gateway. I’m never against a new team entering the series…I just am hesitant. We all indicated a rookie would probably be a Bump Day casualty, and we indicated it would be DragonSpeed (listen to that episode HERE). Of course, if they prove us wrong, that would be awesome!