By: Ashley McCubbin
After taking some time to gain racing experience in Europe, Benjamin Pedersen returns to the United States for the 2021 race season, with his eyes locked on the NTT IndyCar Series, by competing in the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports driver recently spoke about his aspirations and more with POPULAR SPEED.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?
BENJAMIN PEDERSEN: Just super excited to get going. Obviously it’s a debut for Road to Indy for me, so I look forward to joining the whole Road to Indy program. Then to be at the top level of the Road to Indy in Indy Lights just before IndyCar is obviously super exciting. So really just looking forward to coming back and racing in America, since I raced here in F4 and F3 in the past. Just excited to be involved with IndyCar at every event as well, and what the whole program entails is kind of exciting.
ASHLEY: Along those lines, I was going to ask – why did you decide to run Indy Lights for the next step of your racing career?
BENJAMIN: For me, IndyCar has always been part of my goals since I started racing in open-wheel. So I started in the F4 US Championship and then migrated up to F3. Then I always knew to really develop myself as a driver, racing in Europe was really good. So I went and competed in British F3 for two years, which was really was a good experience as you learn a lot of knowledge racing in Europe.
Then the question always was to where to come back after that to try and get to IndyCar. With F3 being pretty much parallel to Indy Pro 2000, kind of marks a good point to come back and do Lights for this year. So just trying to prepare as much as possible for the road to IndyCar and Lights is the next step so here we are.
ASHLEY: What are your goals and expectations?
BENJAMIN: I would say my goals and expectations for myself is just trying to be super consistent and the best that I can possibly do. Obviously, my goals are to go and win races and hopefully a championship, but it’s my debut into Indy Lights and being a rookie, there’s guys that have raced here in the past. So it won’t be easy to go and be at the front, for sure. But my goals for myself is to be super consistent and maximizing my performance and seeing where we end up.
So far, testing has been really strong and yeah, just always looking to improve myself and see where we end up.
ASHLEY: What track on the schedule are you most excited for?
BENJAMIN: That’s a tough one. Being that I’ve raced here in the past, there’s quite a lot of tracks that I’ve driven at and enjoy driving. I really enjoy Barber, Laguna – which is where we just tested recently. So really, there’s a lot of tracks that I look forward, so to have one in particular is really hard to say so just in general, the whole calendar looks good so I’m excited for that.
ASHLEY: Speaking of testing, how has that been going thus far?
BENJAMIN: Very well. We’ve had four test days now and they’ve all been really well. Obviously, getting used to Indy Lights cars in being my rookie season, so just getting acquainted with set-up changes and what does what, and how it responds, and just trying to get as much experience in a short amount of time as possible. I’ve really enjoyed every minute, really liking the cars and the tracks, and the racing grooves.
The HMD team has been really strong with working together, and obviously my teammates are all very strong so we’re helping each other to develop the car and teach each other for the beginning of the season.
ASHLEY: How did you get started in racing initially?
BENJAMIN: I got started in racing in go-karting, as most drivers do, and at the age of 15, I went over and just testing F4 Championship. Then in 2016, I went and did the inaugural season. Then after a couple years in F4 US, I went to F3 US, and then went to British F3 and now Indy Lights.
ASHLEY: What’s been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
BENJAMIN: That’s a tough question. I would have to say back in F4 when we raced at Circuit of the Americas with FIA WEC and Formula 1 on two different weekends. I won those events – a couple events during the WEC events, and then I won the F1 event at COTA. So racing in front of F1 with 300,000 plus fans is just super special and to be on the podium is just the cherry on top. So I would have to say that weekend, but in general, there are so many great memories so it’s hard to pick one.
ASHLEY: What would be one piece of advice to someone getting started?
BENJAMIN: I would have to say the biggest piece of advice is surround yourself with good people. It’s so important to be with the right team and right environment to have the right people coaching you from when you’re in F4 and on-ward. So really the most important thing is to be with the right team because that’s what’s going to make the difference in the future in developing yourself.
So I would almost say it’s tricky with most scenarios, but it’s hard to go into racing without a good team and make it to the future steps of racing in a sense because you really need the right people to support you in every aspect of motorsports.