Hickey: Random Tests to Remember in IndyCar
Australian Supercars driver Scott McLaughlin tested with Team Penske at Sebring earlier this week and it got me thinking: what other random tests have we seen in IndyCar? Here's a brief rundown of some of the tests that have happened through the years:
Jamie McMurray tested with Chip Ganassi Racing (who he also drove for in NASCAR) in 2011, running Scott Dixon's car at Barber Motorsports Park for several laps. The test was considered an exhibition but it was still cool to see the 2010 Dayonta 500 and Brickyard 400 winner get into an open-wheel car. (Photo below is by LAT Photos via IndyCar Media Site)
One of the most infamous tests in IndyCar history is when Ayrton Senna showed up to Arizona and performed a very secretive test with Team Penske. While Senna would return to Formula 1, this test served as a glimmer of hope that Senna may one day drive in IndyCar. Senna would pass away two years later in an accident, but the remote possibility of Senna coming to IndyCar is something that many still dream about to this day.
To help prepare for his new duties as ABC anaylst for IndyCar in 2006, Rusty Wallace showed up to Homestead in Miami to test a car prepared by Team Penske. Despite running only eight laps, Wallace stated, "I need to talk to Penske about running a third car at Indy. You never know." Obviously this never happened, but it still serves as a fun trip down memory lane.
A Formula 1 veteran with 161 starts, Johnny Herbert came to the IRL to test at Indianapolis in the hopes of making the Indianapolis 500. This test which took place in April of 2002 was an attempt to get up to speed prior to Indy. While he did not qualify for the field, the test was another indication that the Indianapolis 500 could and will always attract big names to it. (Below photo credit: IndyCar Media)
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, and Andretti Autosport shocked the world when they announced a joint entry into the 2017 Indianapolis 500. A part of this deal was a single-car test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that was to be broadcasted on YouTube. Over 2 million people from around the globe tuned in to watch a single car test. Alonso was brilliant the entire month of May and had the most viewed test in IndyCar history.
Much like Fernando Alonso, Kurt Busch tested prior to attempting to run at the Indianapolis 500. Busch entered the Indy 500 in 2014 but began his initial testing one year earlier. Busch, like Alonso, did very well in his IndyCar debut, showing great pace and excellent adaptability under the circumstances.