LEXINGTON, Ohio – If the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the home of the Rahal family and, more recently, Michael Shank, the Herta family certain qualifies as adopted relatives of the Buckeye State.
Bryan Herta was born in Warren, Mich., but he attended Ohio State University when he began his racing career, first in Indy Lights with Ohio’s Tasman Racing and later with the then Columbus-based Team Rahal in the 1990s.
Bryan Herta never won an NTT IndyCar Series race at the venerable road course nestled away in the hills of Amish Country. On Sunday, his son Colton Herta placed the Herta name on the list of Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio race winners.
“He has a lot of fans there and in turn I have a lot of fans from it growing up and racing around there in USF2000 and Indy Lights,” Colton Herta said of his father. “I feel at home there. I love the track and I love the place. It’s my favorite track in the United States. I enjoy going there. It seems like we are going have even softer tires than last year and it will be even faster and I’m looking forward to that.”
Young Colton Herta loves the speed and the challenge that Mid-Ohio presents to a driver.
“It’s how busy it is through the back section and down Thunder Valley,” Herta explained. “There’s a good combination of high-speed corners and some low-speed corners. It’s a really fast track with the ability to pass as well, and that is very rare.
“My father has done well there. He got the pole there at least once in CART. I know he was leading one year and had a tire failure.
“The family connection is really big because a lot of his fans love the fact he drove for Bobby Rahal and he went to Ohio State and he lived in Ohio during his early IndyCar career. A lot of people connect with that and in turn, he gets a lot of love there. I love going there. He is a fan favorite and it’s awesome to see.”
When Bryan Herta’s career started as a driver, Ohio played a major role in his career and his life.
“I lived in Ohio for the better part of six or seven years,” the elder Herta explained. “We made a life there. My daughter was born there. From a personal standpoint, I have an affinity for the area. When we used to race in Cleveland and Mid-Ohio, we did a lot of racing in and around that area. I feel like there are a lot of great IndyCar fans there and that raises the event when you have really, died in the wool IndyCar fans coming out like we do at Mid-Ohio, that makes things that much better.”
Although he was born in Warren, Mich., and his father attended the University of Michigan, Bryan Herta chose Ohio State University, where he majored in economics.
“I went to Ohio State, I was a full-time student at Ohio State, I was born in Michigan and my dad went to Michigan,” Bryan Herta said. “Definitely, when Michigan plays Ohio State, I’m rooting for the Scarlet and Gray.
“I was an economics major. I did not make it to the finish line on that one. I was still enrolled at Ohio State when I started racing in IndyCar. All through Indy Lights and then into IndyCar, I realized I could no longer do both.
“If I had gotten my degree, maybe I’d be a great economics professor.”
Although Bryan Herta fell just short of getting his degree from Ohio State, his college years have had a lasting impact on his career as both a race driver and later as an NTT IndyCar Series team owner.
“There is a discipline to learning that benefits you, no matter what you do,” Bryan Herta explained. “Whether you use your degree, or not, there is a discipline to learning how to study, how to apply yourself, how to meet deadlines for tests, how to meet deadlines for projects. All of that is the same in any business venture. I think the educational experience really helped me a lot on the business side of racing, even though the particular subject I studied wasn’t directly related to racing.”
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