Fast Five with Connor DePhillippi

Launching a new series of the blog called the Fast Five, where I ask a driver five quick questions in an interview type entry. I was honored to have the privledge of interviewing Connor DePhillippi, runner up in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship and future legend. So without furthur adieu:

1) I got asked the other day, "Why do you like racing?" It took me a second to think about my answer. As a fan, I love the competitive side by side racing, the great fans I meet at the track and on Twitter, and the suspenseful and exciting finishes. As a driver, what is it about racing that drew you to it when you started and what do you love most about racing?

CD: There are so many thing I love about motorsports. The whole connection with man and machine is one of the biggest things that draws me towards it. Obviously there is the competitive aspect, which is a massive part of things and another area of racing that drives me to push my hardest each day in and out of the car. On the technical side of racing, I must say that I am completely addicted and infatuated with it. It is literally an art. Over the course of this last year I learned so much about it, and the way I developed as a driver after learning all about it makes me feel miles ahead of people . I also love the whole interaction scene between fans, and getting to know some of them on a personal basis. The passion that so many of our IndyCar fans have is incredible, and as a driver I appreciate each and every one of them.

2) Every driver has a favorite track for one reason or another, which track is your favorite?

CD: My favorite track... gosh. To be honest, it is a complete toss up between Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Mosport. Both of which are so unique and have very high speed area's where you need to let it all hang out. Feedback is also very critical at both tracks because for some reason at those tracks, the car plays a larger roll in things than most of the others.

Connor capturing his fourth win in 2011 at Laguna Seca

3) I know you may not be in the position to shed any light, but do you have a timetable on officially announcing your plans for the 2012 season?

CD: Some time before the first race at St.Pete hopefully!! HA. I really wish I knew more about my 2012 plans, but there are so many things up in the air right now. Within the next few weeks I should have a much better idea of where I will be with my plans. I can promise you though that each day I'm flat out trying to make things happen for Firestone Indy Lights!!

 4) Growing up, what driver(s) did you look up to and what current IZOD Indycar driver do you most admire?

CD: Growing up, I was a massive Alex Zanardi fan. I was also a Michael Schumacher fan, but so was everyone else it seems! I always looked up to Zanardi because he never backed down to anyone,always made the most of what he had, and the way he made it to the top is the way I want to make it to the top. He earned every ride he had and when it time to get into the race car, there was one goal. And that goal was to win. As far as current IZOD Indy Car drivers, I would say James Hinchcliffe is who I admire most. He has proven that a young rookie can indeed come into the series and produce results when there is good equipment underneath them. So many people want to pick the older and experienced drivers, but the drive and dedication that someone like hinch has cannot be matched by someone who has already been at that level for so many years. Without questions the experienced drivers still love racing and are great for the sport, but us rookie's can make it happen too. And I feel Hinch is paving the way for more of those opportunities to open up.

Schumi and Zanardi having a chat

5) Kind of a sense of humor question, but have you ever coughed, sneezed, sighed, or any other obscurely odd thing while driving in a race?

CD: This is actually a great question. Because I have asked myself the same thing quite a few times... As far as during a race, I don't recall anything along those lines happening. Although, I do recall in 2010 at Sebring for my very first Star Mazda race, I got something in my eye right as I pulled out of the pits for qualifying. I tried to tough it out and hold it open, but it was easier to just drive with one eye closed. And that is exactly what I did!!

Thanks to Connor for the opprotunity to interview him, got some great answers! Looking forward to hearing about your 2012 plans in the new future! And thanks to everyone for reading!

-Matthew Hickey