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23rd of March 2018


Carlin Racing IndyCar team using Florida base as recruiting tool for top European talent

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As one of the four new teams that will take the grid in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Carlin Racing decided to chart its course to the Verizon IndyCar Series differently than the rest of the field.

Most teams that join IndyCar set up their shop in Indianapolis -- the heart and soul of the sport and the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carlin, however, decided to take the nonconformist route and set up its racing shop in Delray Beach, Florida -- way down the Atlantic Coast in the tourist alley that includes West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

That wasn’t done by accident.

“We like to think it’s an advantage because we can get all of the people that we know that are fantastic from the United Kingdom that want to work in Florida,” driver Max Chilton told Autoweek. “Trying to get a group of people from Great Britain to live in Indianapolis is pretty impossible. It’s all about keeping the members of the team happy and making sure they are comfortable in their surroundings.

“I might be a bit biased, but Carlin puts in more hours than anyone else that I’ve experienced working with the team. So, if they can work around the clock and then get a couple of days off in the nice sun of Florida, then that is the way it’s going to be.”

Trevor Carlin is a highly successful racing team owner in the European junior formulas. He is moving his Indy Lights operation up to IndyCar full time in 2018 with Chilton and Charlie Kimball as his two drivers.

In addition to being a great lure for engineering and crew member talent, the team’s South Florida base of operations also has some logistical advantages, according to the team owner.

Learning on the fly: Carlin Racing IndyCar team's crew has never performed a pit stop in a race

“We have the Palm Beach Airport, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, so we can get direct flights from Europe to those airports,” Carlin told Autoweek. “Suddenly, that’s not so bad. The guys that drive the haulers have a tough life, but they will get some extra days off in the winter by living in South Florida.

“They like decent weather. Phoenix would be great, but that’s unpredictable from a logistics point of view. What made sense to me would have been Charlotte because it has good logistics and doesn’t get the hard winters. Maybe five years down the road, I might look at Charlotte as a place to build.”

Carlin has been able to achieve his dream thanks to Chilton’s father, Grahame. He is CEO of Arthur J. Gallagher International -- one of Europe’s leading international brokerage houses. Gallagher serves as the sponsor on Max Chilton’s Indy car, including the 2016 and 2017 seasons when Max drove for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Grahame has been a massive help,” Carlin said. “He’s a big man in the insurance business. He has some great contacts. The Gallagher guys really enjoyed their Indy 500 experience last year leading 50 laps, and they were in the box watching it. And it has given them a ton of exposure.

“What we have tried to do as a team is get all of our contacts to start working with Gallagher from an insurance point of view. In the future, our target would be their sponsorship dollar would be matched by new income they wouldn’t have got. I’ve had two inquiries at the Phoenix Open Test to pass on Gallagher for insurance business.”

Carlin believes the timing of the new aero kit and the simplification of the bodywork made this the perfect time to step up to IndyCar. Last year would have required a massive investment on parts that would have been scrapped at the end of the 2017 season.

“What we have right now is as close to a level playing field as you are ever going to get in motorsport,” Carlin said.

By Bruce Martin

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