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By Al Stilley
Southsider Voice correspondent
Up-and-coming racer Kyle O’Gara of Beech Grove and newly merged Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing are preparing for expanded open-wheel campaigns.
O’Gara, son of John and Jeannie O’Gara, is preparing to race indoors in midget cars for co-owners Steve Weirich from RW Motorsports and newcomer Brian Ludlow of Indy Trading Post, 2851 Madison Ave., at the Allen County Coliseum in Fort Wayne on Dec. 26, 27 and 28 and the famed Chili Bowl from Jan. 13-17 in Tulsa, Okla.
Those events mark the beginning of an expanded 45-50 events in 2015 for the Roncalli alum in the United States Auto Club’s prestigious Silver Crown, National, Honda, Stars National and Mel Kenyon midget series.
“I am pumped,” O’Gara said last week at Fast Times on the Northside. “My season will stretch from December all the way to next October.”
Indy Trading Post had sponsored O’Gara, the Sarah Fisher Development driver, in 2013 and ’14 but now enters into co-sponsorship.
“I look forward to the opportunity to experience a dream,” Ludlow said. “My goal has always been to provide an environment with every tool available for success … it is exciting to be able to provide these types of tools for Kyle.”
O’Gara said he hopes to build on his success this year of bringing home USAC’s national pavement midget series owners and drivers championship and the STARS regional owners championships. He won two midget features and raced in two Indy Lights events.
“Every year I’ve had the opportunity to learn,” O’Gara said. “This year was a huge learning curve. Our main goal is to stay in the seat as long as possible and be as consistent as we can be.”
O’Gara is part of a well-known Southside racing family that includes his brother, Andy, who’s married to team co-owner Sarah Fisher, and O’Gara’s dad, John, a retired IndyCar mechanic and crew chief and co-founder of Sarah Fisher Racing. Andy and Sarah live in Franklin Township with their two children.
“The family support is awesome,” Kyle said. “To be able to carry on a storied family name in this city is a testament to our involvement in the sport.”
A huge IndyCar focus will be on the new CFH Racing team as Fisher, co-owner Wink Hartman and driver-owner Ed Carpenter unite. The union has led to an expansion of team headquarters on Main Street in Speedway, with additional office space, a paint shop and larger area for research and development.
“We are probably the only IndyCar team that is thankful for the six-month off-season,” said Fisher, who holds the women’s record of nine Indianapolis 500 starts. “We’re committed to making this team a first-class team. From an owner’s standpoint, I want to be able to give the crews on both race cars all the tools that they need to be successful.
The new team recently conducted a two-car test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama with Josef Newgarden and Carpenter’s substitute driver, J.R. Hildebrand.
Newgarden is working with Chevrolet for the first time as the team has switched from Honda.
“The Chevy is characteristically different than the Honda; it’s very promising,” Newgarden said. “We’re trying to learn, but with the two groups combining into one, it will make us stronger.”
The merger of the teams enhances the financial side and eliminates the personal liability that Fisher and O’Gara had while they founded the team. Since the merger, Andy O’Gara contends both teams are working together, not separately.
“It is a team effort, 100 percent,” he said. “That’s how we planned it from the beginning; no holds barred and no secrets in the shop.”
Taking note of being a two-car team, O’Gara said, “It’s a night- and-day (difference). Together, the engineering staffs of the cars bring so much to the table.
“There are bright things in store.”
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