1) Congrats on your deal! I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say it kind of came out of nowhere! When did talks with AJ Foyt Enterprises and Larry Foyt begin and how did the deal materialize?
MP: Thanks Matthew, I guess I did a good job of keeping my silence with the media! My relationship with Larry and his team first started back in February 2011, when I was part of the Indy 500 Centenial Tour visiting US and UK military bases across the middle-east. That trip was life changing in so many ways, as it was what lead me to into the charitable work that I do with Snowball Express as well as getting to know a team owner who would give me my first chance to race at the Indy 500.
Since that trip, I had been keeping up with Larry and his team and would always check in with him, reminding him that I was available to race for his team! What many people may not realize in racing is that, even though every team owner in the paddock may know who you are, many of them just presume that you are under contract and may not consider you if an opportunity arises. That’s why I kept calling and emailing for the last three years.
Fast-forward to January 2014 and an opportunity finally presented itself with Larry’s team. AJ Foyt Racing enjoys partnerships with great companies such as ABC Supply Co. and Al-Fe Heat Treating who have been loyal to the team for a long time, so I was honored to have been accepted to represent their brand in one of the biggest races in the world.
2) You just finished testing the DW12, which was also your very first time in the car. What are your overall first impressions of the car and your new teammate Takuma Sato?
MP: The DW12 was a lot of fun to drive. The speed was a welcome surprise. The first time I floored it down the back straight my eyes bulged for a second. If I’m honest, it was not overwhelming as it wasn’t a massive step-up from last years LMP2 car. I was already used to powerful carbon brakes and a lot of downforce. The thing that really impressed me was the amount of mechanical grip and minimum corner speeds the car. The limit was so much higher than what I remember even from the old-spec IndyCar.
Working with Takuma is going to be fun. He’s very open to work with. Clearly he’s out to beat me and I’m out to beat him, but we both have the philosophy that it’s our job to help each other so that we can push the team forward and fight each other for the win.
|Martin in the car talking with teammate at AJ Foyt Enterprises at |
the most recent Sebring test (Photo: Betty Crosely)
3) Part of your deal will see you take part in the very first GP of Indy. There have been supporters and critiques of the race. What do you think of it all?
MP: I think the grand prix will be a welcome addition to the calendar. I haven’t seen the official track layout yet, so I can’t talk about the track itself, but I also understand and respect the concerns of the traditionalists. I think that as long as the GP doesn’t mess with the traditions of the 500, then I’m all for it. As far as change goes, change is good. Without change, they would still be racing hot-air balloons at the speedway.
4) What are your expectations and goals for the Month of May?
MP: My expectations of myself are to give 100% both on and off the track and to make sure that every time I am on track I am learning, improving and helping the team move forward. The big goal for the Month of May is simple, to win. No matter who you are, if your goal is not to win, then you shouldn’t be putting your helmet on!
|Martin driving at Sonoma for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2011 |
(Photo: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images North America)
5) Driving for Super Tex (AJ Foyt) must be a great honor! Do you think there's a chance you might turn into a cowboy after all is said and done?!
MP: I think it will be difficult to become a true cowboy with my accent! With a few weeks spent with AJ, I’m sure I will learn a thing or two about being a Texan.
Thanks so much to Martin and to his PR Nicole for their help and their valuable time! Much appreciated.