It is a whole new world for Adam Carroll. New country, new team, new car, new opponents and new tracks. Even a new way of engaging with the fans.
The A1GP champion from Portadown is scheduled to make his IndyCar race debut for the Andretti Autosport team at Watkins Glen in up-state New York this weekend.
But first he has to undergo his “road course rookie test” at the Mid Ohio race circuit near Lexington later today.
During the session IZOD IndyCar officials will assess whether he is a competent enough driver to take his place in the Andretti team this weekend. It should be no problem for 27-year-old Carroll who has raced and won at every level from Formula Ford to GP2 and has driven F1 cars.
But in an illustration of the openness which surrounds American racing — and a far cry from F1 — tomorrow Carroll will be on YouTube via the Andretti Autosport Facebook page to answer questions from race fans.
It is the Andretti way, the American way, the modern way, of engaging with race-goers and TV viewers.
And the questions are already building up including “Do you think you will be as good in IndyCar as in A1GP?” and also “Which AA (Andretti Autosport) driver has been most helpful to you so far?”.
The answer to the latter question is likely to be Marco Andretti, who raced against Carroll in A1GP for Team USA. It was where team boss Michael Andretti saw the Ulsterman lead Team Ireland to the A1GP crown and paved the way for his move to America.
Carroll will drive in three, possibly four, IndyCar races in the next couple of months.
“It was important for us to give him an opportunity this year and start building for the years to come,” said Michael Andretti.
It all begins this weekend at historic Watkins Glen, the former US Grand Prix circuit, where Carroll will take his place in a Honda-powered Dallara alongside Andretti’s regular squad of four drivers, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti.
Among those he will be up against are fellow Brits Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon, as well as IndyCar series leader Will Power.