Indy Lights - Q&A With Ander Krohn
Q: The 2011 season was a learning experience for you, but it was not without some top-five finishes. What event will you look back on as your best race of 2011, and why? A: There were so many races that could've been our best one, but for whatever reason the top results failed to materialize this past season. My two best races of 2011 must be the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Baltimore Grand Prix, both of which I was leading at some point. The finishes weren't what Belardi Auto Racing and I had hoped for, but we were at least fighting for the win.
Q: You raced with Belardi Auto Racing in Firestone Indy Lights this season. Being a rookie driver on a rookie team, how was your experience?
A: The Belardi team has been like a family to me, and I can only say great things about every single team member. Brian Belardi was the one who made all this happen, and I will be eternally grateful for that. While we didn't achieve the results we had hoped for, it certainly wasn't through lack of trying! I would like to wish them all the best for the 2012 season.
Q: Did anything surprise you this year? A: Concrete walls hurt when you hit them at over 150 miles per hour! On a serious note though, the surprise of the year was how incredible the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix was. I don't think anybody in the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock expected it to be such a huge turnout with some of the best fans I have ever witnessed. I ran out of autograph cards on Friday before the event had even started! Q: Can you put a finger on the most important things you have learned this season? A: With as many unfortunate incidents/setbacks I was involved in this year, the most important lesson I learned is to move on mentally. It can be tough on your psyche when it feels like things are always going wrong, so being able to forget about this and directly start focusing on the upcoming race was massively important for me.
Q: How big a thrill was it to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? You even led during the Firestone Freedom 100, which was your first race ever at IMS. A: Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something I've dreamed about ever since coming to race in the United States. It's the fastest, most daring track of all. Add to that the biggest crowd of the season and 100 years of history and you've got yourself quite the setting! Leading the Firestone Freedom 100 was something else, and while it all ended with a crash this year, hopefully the laps led were only a taste of what's to come at the Brickyard for me.
Q: You got to race on street courses, ovals and traditional road courses this year. Do you have a favorite type of track? What were your favorite tracks that you raced on this year?
A: It was great to have such a diverse mix of tracks, and that's what the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights are all about! We raced at so many great tracks this year, but the best one has to be the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, closely followed by Baltimore or Long Beach. Gosh, can I just pick all of them?
Q: You’re one of the few people from Norway to ever advance this far in international auto racing. How many Norwegians are following your career, and do you have their interest and support? A: I'm fortunate to have a big Norwegian following, and many actually attend the races! There's been a lot of people that supported me when I chose to race in North America, and the support only seems to be growing so that is very nice to see. I always have some Viking gear around for my fellow Norwegians when they join me at the races!
Q: How did the American fans treat you?
A: In a word: Fantastic! Americans are extremely patriotic people, so when I tell them I live in Texas they make me feel supported like a proper American! 2012 will be my fifth season racing and living in the United States, and I can't wait to make friends with fans at every track I go to.
Q: What do you think about the Mazda Road to Indy program? Since you’ve had experience racing in Europe, how does our program stack up? A: The Mazda Road to Indy is simply the best development program in racing history. No auto manufacturer has done what Mazda is doing, which is to take drivers from the grassroots of racing all the way to the top. Not just in IndyCars, but sports cars and stock cars too. The fact they are now aligned with IndyCar just makes the deal even sweeter. I'd discuss the European open-wheel scene if I felt they had something that compares, but they're not even close. Needless to say, my daily driver is a Mazda!
Q: Of course everyone was shocked when Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas. Did you know him? A: Strangely enough, my first real talk with Dan was after we had a crash at the Florida Karting Winter Tour in January this year. None of us were too happy at the time, but we were both laughing at it later. The next time I talked to him was when he was getting ready to practice at the Brickyard, and a few days later he was suddenly a two-time Indy 500 winner! He was a great guy and one heck of a driver. I feel for his wife, two kids and extended family. He will never be forgotten.
Q: Did you do anything else this year in America that was memorable? A: I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in the United States, which was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of food, so that might be my favorite holiday to date!
Q: What is your favorite American meal? Is there any particular American food that you like, and one that you don’t like? A: I love food in general, but America has something for every taste. My favorites are sushi and Mexican, which when I come to think of it isn't American food...There's nothing like a big ol' steak after a race though!
Q: How will you spend Christmas and New Year’s? Do you have any specific traditions? A: I just arrived in Norway and will be celebrating Christmas there with family and friends. There will be a lot of presents, typical Norwegian food (mostly sheep), then it's right back across the pond for a New Year's celebration in Florida. It'll be my first time celebrating New Year’s away from Norway, but I'm sure it'll be a ton of fun in the Sunshine State.
Q: Can you give us a hint about what comes next for the Viking? A: I can't reveal too much at this point, but it'll be a season of changes. All the pieces of the puzzle haven't been put in place yet, but I'm looking towards 2012 with big excitement. I'm hoping to have at least the first part of my program announced by early January.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add? A: I'd like to send a big thank you to all my friends, partners and fans for another thrilling year. I feel so fortunate to be able to live out my dreams, and I'm glad there are so many fantastic people to share this joy with. I would like to send a special thank you to Trallfa, who have been with me as a partner for the past six years. Even though our partnership has come to an end I will always cherish their support and friendship, which will never end.