It's a Matter of Pride for Norway's Krohn
This year Anders “The Viking” Krohn is taking a giant step closer to his goal of becoming only the second Norwegian race car driver to compete in the world’s greatest auto race, the Indianapolis 500.
Krohn, 23, who resides in Houston, Texas, will drive the Belardi Auto Racing No. 9 this year in Firestone Indy Lights. It is the official development series of the IZOD IndyCar Series, which is similar to the Nationwide series’ relationship to NASCAR Sprint Cup, or a top collegiate football program’s relationship to the National Football League. It’s the top step on open-wheel racing’s Mazda Road to Indy ladder system, and a proven arena for drivers to impress IndyCar owners who keep their eyes peeled for rising stars.
The fact that the native of Stavanger, Norway has made it this far since his first race in the United States just four years ago is nothing short of amazing. His family is not wealthy and he has almost single-handedly assembled the sponsorship support to make his racing program a reality. That’s why it’s not surprising that the first thing he wants to mention in any interview are the companies that support him, which include Liberty Engineering, Logi Trans Offshore Express, Trallfa, PM International Suppliers, ZAT Graphics, Eagles Canyon Raceway, OMP and Bell Helmets.
Krohn was extremely successful in karting and junior formula-car racing in Europe before he ventured across the ocean to race in the United States. Those trans-Atlantic flights were rewarded when he earned both the driver championship and the Rookie of the Year award in the F2000 Championship Series in 2008, winning nine of the 14 races. He advanced to Star Mazda in 2009, finishing sixth in points and winning his first oval-track race ever when he was victorious at
the Milwaukee Mile. He was never out of the top five in any Star Mazda race last year, finishing second in the point standings with Andersen Racing.
He also tested the waters in Firestone Indy Lights last year by entering one race, an event at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. last July. He impressed everyone when he ran as high as fourth before gearbox problems relegated him to a tenth-place finish.
Although both Krohn and Belardi Auto Racing are rookies this year in Firestone Indy Lights, Krohn is expected to add to the fan base he’s built in America as one of the most popular drivers in the junior formula-car ranks. He’s friendly and accessible; he has a group page on Facebook and his tweets can be found on Twitter and his Web site at anderskrohn.com. He has a large following in his native land and he is becoming better known by all Americans and especially those of Norwegian heritage, which numbered about 4.9 million according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Krohn has a rather zany sense of humor, and if pressed he can display his unusual ability of being able to rap in Norwegian.
But Krohn is most interested in showing his talents where it counts – the racetrack.
The task ahead poses more challenges than simply driving fast. He’s a rookie on a brand-new team and he has never driven or tested any car on 62 percent of the 13 tracks he’ll face this year.
But fans have learned never to count “The Viking” out.
Although Brian Belardi formed his operation just last December and the team moved into its new facilities in Brownsburg, Ind., near Indianapolis, a few weeks ago, it reunites Krohn with several key team members. Belardi Auto Racing’s general manager and technical director, Larry Nash, was the engineer who helped Krohn win his first
oval-track race ever. Krohn has also worked with his chief engineer, Mike Reggio, and his chief mechanic, Chuck Lessick, in the past while driving for Andersen Racing, a team that is not competing in Firestone Indy Lights or Star Mazda this year. Other familiar faces to Krohn will be Lou D’Agostino, who will also help on the engineering side, and motorsports marketing expert LeeAnne Nash.
These synergies are vitally important.
“I’ve known Mike [Reggio] since my first season racing in the United States, and I have a tremendous amount of trust in him,” Krohn said. “He knows how to interpret what I’m saying; it’s a great situation.
“Watching how quickly Belardi Auto Racing has progressed already has been fantastic,” Krohn added. “To see it go from an idea in October to where we are now has been amazing to watch. It’s been a great adventure already. I want to give back to these people what they’ve given to me, which is a huge faith in my talents. Brian Belardi has put a lot of faith in me, and I intend to repay that faith with results.”
The season starts Sunday, March 27 on the 1.81-mile street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., and then moves to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala. April 10 and the street circuit in Long Beach, Calif., on April 17 before the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27. Two more ovals – the Milwaukee Mile on June 19 and Iowa Speedway on June 25 – precede three races in Canada: Toronto July 10; Edmonton July 24 and Trois-Rivieres Aug. 7. New Hampshire Motor Speedway rejoins the calendar for a race on Aug. 14 followed by a brand-new venue, the street circuit around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, on Sept. 4. Two more oval tracks – Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 2 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16 – round out the schedule.
Eight of the 13 races (Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Iowa, Toronto, Edmonton, Baltimore and Kentucky) will be broadcast live on the VERSUS cable TV network in America, while the race at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on the same network.
“One of the most challenging things for me this year will be my development as a driver and how to develop the car quickly, because for the majority of the races there is no testing allowed beforehand,” Krohn explained. “There are usually only two 45-minute practice sessions before qualifying, so you need to have a car that is quick right off the bat or else you’re already in trouble. With the expertise of the people on our team and with me pushing as hard as possible, I think we should be just fine.”
Although oval tracks and their lack of run-offs frighten many road racers, Krohn is actually looking forward to them. “I’ve always liked the ovals, right since my first one at Milwaukee,” he said. “I think it suits my driving. Hopefully I’m crazy enough to utilize the car to its potential. It should be exciting!”
The season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., is just days away on Sunday, March 27. Live timing and scoring will be available on indycar.com. Krohn is slated to be on the 14-turn track in his Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time at 2 p.m. Friday, March 25 for a 45-minute practice session. Another 45-minute practice session is on the docket at 9:10 a.m. on Saturday, March 26 before qualifying is held at 1:25 p.m. that afternoon. There is a 15-minute warm-up session at 8:05 a.m. on Sunday, March 27, with the 45-lap race following at 10:30 a.m., just a few hours before the iZOD_IndyCar Series race. All times are Eastern.
Krohn’s favorite IZOD IndyCar Series driver is Great Britain’s Justin Wilson, an ex-Formula 1 driver who now drives Indy cars for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. “I like the way he behaves on and off the track,” Krohn said. “He’s done some amazing things with some teams that have less funding than the others, and he also seems to have a very nice personality.”
A good personality is important for all professional athletes. “We’ll be doing sponsor hospitality at the majority of the Firestone Indy Lights races this year,” Krohn said. “We’re going to have a suite at the Indianapolis 500 for all of our partners. We have 37 guests coming to the season opener at St. Petersburg.
“There’s been a bit of a break-through in interest in my program this winter,” he added. “There are a lot more people starting to pay attention to what we’re doing now, and it’s great to see. It’s all very positive. A lot of Norwegians will be coming over to Indy this year, and it’s great to see them take enjoyment out of it.
“There’s some national pride involved,” he added with a smile. “I want to make my nation proud, as well as all my new friends here in America.”
For more information see Krohn’s Web site at anderskrohn.com; the series’ Web site at indycar.com/fil and the team’s Web site at belardiautoracing.com.
Source: Anders Krohn