397 - Conor Daly: Man of the People
As drivers follow their trajectory through motorsports, they are often faced with potentially life-changing decisions. On episode 397 of the Dale Jr. Download, Indycar talent Conor Daly joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-host Mike Davis to discuss a crossroads he faced and how his choice affected his career path. After winning the Star Mazda Championship in 2010 and securing a hefty scholarship fund to invest in his future racing endeavors, Daly had to make the selection of a lifetime: pursue Formula One or Indycar? Son of former Formula One driver Derek Daly and Indianapolis Motor Speedway employee Beth Boles, Conor was no stranger to auto racing. In fact, he begins by saying that he has hardly any early-life memories that don’t involve racing. He recalled his time spent at the Racing Babies childcare facility at IMS and his early infatuation with the sport. He also spoke of his father’s racing career, which ended when he was born in 1991, and how he has been able to uncover more of his accomplishments through the digital age. Up to that point in 2010, Conor had rapidly progressed up the opening rungs of the motorsports ladder. From his first time behind the wheel of a go-kart at age 10 to winning the 2006 World Karting Association Grand Nationals, he and his father Derek worked tirelessly on his burgeoning career. From karts, he took on car racing through the Skip Barber National Championship, which he won in his first year in 2008. Then came the Star Mazda circuit, which of course brings the story to that crossroads at the end of the 2010 season. A stipulation of Conor’s scholarship and the Road to Indy program was that while he could take part of the money and pursue GP3 racing in Europe, he still needed to enter a handful of Indy Lights events. After the first three events of the schedule, competing for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Conor found himself with a 2nd place finish and a victory and leading the season points. His prospects in the world of Indycar were so high, that he revealed he actually got a call from Graham Rahal as he was about to depart for Europe, asking him, “are you sure you want to do this?” Ultimately, Conor left the United States and departed for England, where he’d stay with Rahal’s stepfather Chris Berry and set up a home base for his time spent racing in GP3. Daly explained that in his debut GP3 race he qualified 29th and was immediately hit with the regret of his decision. In his absence in the Indy Lights series, Josef Newgarden would go on to win the championship and sign a three-year contract with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. And while Daly would wind up inking a deal with the Force India Formula One team that would have him serve as a test and reserve driver, his time overseas would prove unfruitful, and he returned home to pursue a path in Indycar. Conor and Dale Jr. discuss Europe’s perspective on American racers and theorize as to why it is difficult for them to break into the Formula racing ladder. After returning home, Daly did whatever he could to be at the tracks on race weekends, even at one point driving the Indycar two-seater for fan experiences. His perseverance would eventually win out, as he rose from filling in for injured drivers to racing part-time and now full-time for Ed Carpenter Racing. Daly took time to speak on the ascension from spending his childhood at IMS to racing in the Indianapolis 500. Just this past May in the 106th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the hometown hero brought home his best finish to date, sixth place. DIRTY AIRBefore Conor joins the show, Dale, Mike, Alex, and Hannah chat about: Kelley’s birthday bash Long weekend in Daytona The great Cup race rain debacle Kurt Busch’s injury progress ASKJR presented by XfinityThis week the fans asked questions about: Strangest excuse to explain a crash Feelings on Greg Ives’ leaving as crew chief Updates on his ongoing car projects Championship Four predictions
Bonus: Speed Street w/ special guest Callum Ilott
Bonus: Tuesday Q&A Session Live from North Wilkesboro
About The Show
NASCAR’s 15-time Most Popular Driver and winner of two Daytona 500s, Dale Earnhardt Jr., hosts his very own podcast, The Dale Jr Download on Dirty Mo Media. Earnhardt and co-host Mike Davis raise the bar with unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and fascinating, first-person insight into the life of a broadcaster, celebrated racer.