Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Q&A With J.R. Hildebrand

(Photos courtesy of Indycar.com)
16th And Georgetown: After wrapping up the Firestone Indy Lights tittle in Chicagoland you said: "My strategy was not to crash". How hard is it heading into a race, an oval at that, with just one thing in mind, don't put it into the wall?

J.R. Hildebrand: Well, I guess I would say that my strategy going INTO the race was more like, "Get to the front and work with Seb," but that quickly TURNED INTO "try not to crash" once the race got going, mainly as a result of all the mayhem up at the front. I knew that discretion was going to be the better part of valor in that race if it came down to it, and that mentality quite honestly saved me from being involved in a few of the the big accidents on track. It's frustrating to start at the back and not be able to put your head down and drive to the front, but I have to say that I think it was going to be hard to do in that race at Chicago regardless because of how much contact and rough driving was going on. Needless to say, I was quite relieved just to have finished the race!

16th And Georgetown: With the Lights title locked up and your teammate Sebastian Saavedra slipping to 3rd in points, will you have any "team orders" heading into Miami, or will you be flat out for the win?

J.R. Hildebrand: I'll definitely try to help Sebastian if I can, team orders or not. I tried to do it at Chicago but we both ended up getting mixed up in the jumble of cars at the front and it became nearly impossible to orchestrate anything at that point, so hopefully Homestead will be different. Having said that, we've had really poor luck on the big ovals this year besides Indy where we finished a strong second, so it would be a great way to end the year if we could pick up the win. When it comes down to it, we'll just have to see how the points look like they're going to shake out for Seb as we get through qualifying and into the race, and go from there.

16th And Georgetown: Now that you've won the Indy Lights title, what's your outlook for 2010? Would you be interested in a return to the Lights or are you fully committed to finding an Indycar ride?

J.R. Hildebrand: I'm working very hard to get myself in an Indycar next year. I think the Lights Series is a great proving ground for Indycar, and I feel like I've learned a lot in the last two years that will serve me well going forward, but returning as a champion would be hard to improve upon. I hope to use the season that I've had, the knowledge that I've gained, and the skills that I've developed in Indy Lights to get into the big cars for next year.

16th And Georgetown: On your website you say that your racing goal is to first win an Indycar Championship, then move over to Formula 1. What are your thoughts on the newly formed USF1 team, and have you been contacted regarding a possible ride?

J.R. Hildebrand: Well first off I'd just like to note that I don't really rate Indycar or Formula One higher or lower than the other. Formula One obviously has a higher global level of prestige and backing, but I think you will agree that there's nothing else out there like the Indianapolis 500. Nothing. I think that the USF1 team is a great idea and will hopefully give deserving Americans an opportunity to try their craft overseas, but I think it remains to be seen if they'll be competitively up and running for next year, so it's a little hard to say. I have not personally been contacted in regarding a ride with the team for next year.

16th And Georgetown: After Graduating from High School with a 4.12 GPA you accepted a 2-year deferral to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So far the whole Racing thing has turned about pretty well, any regrets?

J.R. Hildebrand: Yes, racing has turned out extremely well since making the decision to put off going to school, and I have no regrets whatsoever about deferring. When I was still in high school (2005) I decided that I was going to graduate a semester early so that I could move away from California in the Spring of 2006 if I needed to. I was taking a full course load in my final semester to get all my requirements sorted, including arguably the hardest class that the school offered which was BC Calculus. Then I was picked for the Team USA Scholarship Program and missed three of the four weeks before my final exams. I think I'm probably the only racecar driver that's been stuck in a pitlane doing differential equations so that they can keep up with their math homework because of that! I knew then that I couldn't commit enough to either racing or to school to do both of them effectively at the same time, and haven't questioned that since. I do intend to get a higher education, but I will wait until the time is right to make sure that I get the most out of it.

16th And Georgetown: Your website says that your a fan of "24", is there anything Jack can't do?

J.R. Hildebrand: No. Jack Bauer is the new Chuck Norris. I bought a T-shirt for my dad that said, "If you woke up this morning, its because Jack Bauer spared your life..." and I believe that to be true. Nuclear bomb? Cake. Biological contaminants? No problem. He's the man.

16th And Georgetown: A few weeks ago when in Sonoma, the Indycar.com cameras fallowed you "back to school", lets see what you learned, Sin^2 x + Cos^2 x =????

J.R. Hildebrand: Uh, one? That was unfair. I was never particularly good at quick math, I was much more of a problem solver. What you didn't see in that clip is that I had accurately solved some numerical derivatives, but of course they don't show any of THAT! I was sitting there thinking, "Really? you really think I'm going to just bust out trigonometry identities off the top of my head after three years? Come on now." Oh well.


He's a good kid. He WILL have an Indycar seat next year.

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