Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Series Driver James Winslow

If Indy Lights driver James Winslow is the future of open wheel racing, the sport is in excellent hands. I had the chance to speak with James on Friday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park and he carried himself very well.

At 27 years old, Winslow is growing older than his prospect status would assume. Just two years ago, the Brit was winning championships in the Formula One feeder ranks and poised to join a major racing team.

That’s when the credit crunch happened across the globe, leaving Winslow reeling for financial support.

The Witham-native is back in the Firestone Indy Light Series full-time in 2011 and is ready to make his final run toward the Indianapolis 500 and grand prix-style open wheel racing. Winslow is an excellent ambassador for IndyCar and I wish him the best today at Barber.

RacingObserverMatt: When did you start racing and at what point did you decide that you could do this for a living?

James Winslow: I started out racing karts when I was about nine years old. My dad raced and we traveled to many tracks when I was younger.

My family was Formula One fans and that’s the style of racing we followed when I was growing up.

Matt: You’ve raced all across the world. Is there some romanticism to traveling across the globe and seeing so many places?

James: Definitely. The only drawback is that we can’t go out and see the cities we visit because we’re so busy here at the track. But at the same time, I can’t get distracted by that. All that matters is what happens on Sundays. I don’t have much time to enjoy the cities, which is unfortunate.

I try to not get distracted by that sort of thing. All that matters is what happens on Sunday.

Matt: How hard is it to move up once you feel like you’ve graduated from a particular series?

The past couple of years have been hard. We won back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008 (Formula Renault V6 Asia Championship and the Australian Formula 3 respectively) but fell on hard times right after that. It’s been difficult.

Matt: The name Andretti invokes a special aura in motorsports. What is it like being a part of Andretti Autosport?

James: It’s fantastic. They carry a prestige all across the world and it’s great to work with such quality people.

Matt: You mentioned growing up with Formula One. Is Grand Prix Racing your ultimate goal?

James: F1 is the still the dream. I grew up with both F1 and Indy cars. Indy Lights is my current goal. It’s my last chance to get to F1.

Matt: Could you describe what it’s like to talk to prospective sponsors and supporters?

James: It’s really difficult to convince them to support me. The economy has really worked against us over the past couple of years and the amount of money needed to compete at the highest level is so great that it’s hard to convince them to join us.

Matt: How well do you and your teammate, Stefan Wilson, work together?

James: We worked together for just one weekend at St. Pete but I’ve known Stefan for quite a while. We’ve been friends for a long time and it’s great to be on the same team.

Matt: You’re running the full Indy Lights schedule right?

James: We plan to run the full schedule, yeah.

Matt: Thanks, man. Good luck this weekend.