IndyCar teams work, train from home as they await start of season

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INDIANAPOLIS– With the 104th running of the Indy 500 postponed until August, IndyCar teams are left with an empty Memorial Day weekend.

Drivers and pit crews, like the rest of Indiana, are now working from home.

“Getting a little creative, actually,” Brendon Cleave, Arrow McLaren SP, said. “There are a lot of things that you’re like, ‘Oh I’ll put that off to next week.’ Now you don’t have any excuses for that so a lot of extra prep time.”

Cleave is an engineer who builds and maintains Arrow McLaren SP’s racecars. He also changes a tire on the pit crew.

“I think from a training standpoint, we’ve actually been able to put in more hours because we haven’t been at the track, we haven’t been traveling,” he said.

Cleave said the team has been working out from home and via video conference five times a week.

“Whether it’s your own body weight, a backpack on your back or a bag of topsoil on your back,” he laughed.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Arrow McLaren SP promised not to lay off or furlough any workers, even though the IndyCar season was delayed. They head to Texas for the first race of the year, the Genysys 300, in June.

“It’ll be on tv, everyone can tune in but for us that’s something we have never experienced,” Kiel said.

He referenced the NASCAR race at Darlington earlier in the month.

“It looked different, for sure. I think Kevin Harvick had a post-race quote that said he was excited he won the race and got out of the car and it was dead silent. Hopefully we’re in the same position, celebrating a victory and then wondering where all the fans are,” he laughed.

The team is disappointed they won’t race in the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend, but it is looking forward to the rescheduled date August 23.

“People may or may not understand. We had cars fired up and ready to race in St. Pete and then we didn’t,” Taylor Kiel said. “So, everything got loaded up, we got back to Indy, we gave everyone a week off and then the state and effectively the country got shut down, so we had to scramble remotely.”

“You’ve just got to deal with it, roll with the punches just like this COVID-19 thing,” Cleave said. “You know, it threw a lot of curve balls at us, but I think one thing race teams are good at is coming up with a new plan and being able to react very quickly.”

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