It’s been a busy weekend in Texas for Andretti Autosport – and already a victorious one heading into the Firestone 600.
The team has three drivers entered in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway and two entries in the rallycross competition at the X Games in Austin.
For two members of the Andretti Autosport contingent – brothers Cole and Dane Carter – it means double duty. Dane Carter is the spotter for Marco Andretti on Verizon IndyCar Series oval tracks and Tanner Foust in rallycross events. Cole spots for Carlos Munoz in Indy cars and Scott Speed in rallycross.
That means the Carters have been making their own 200-mile rally trips between Fort Worth and Austin to spot for their drivers at both competitions, but it’s been worth it. Speed won the X Games rallycross gold medal June 6.
“A lot of people don’t think spotters are ever used or needed in rallycross, but they’re required,” said Cole, 32 and the younger of the two Carters. “It doesn’t seem like it because the guys always seem to run into each other. They’re a lot more involved, actually. It’s kind of like you have to do the race strategy and the spotting all at once because things happen so fast and it’s a short race. No one really has time to have a big conversation on the radio, so you have to do a lot of different jobs at the same time.”
After flying to Fort Worth from Indianapolis on June 4, the Carters drove to Austin for a three-hour rallycross practice session and returned that night to be at TMS for Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying June 5. They went back to Austin late that night for the X Games heat races and final, then planned to scurry back to TMS in time for the Firestone 600.
“We should be back about an hour or so before the green flag here,” Cole said. And then? “Sleep all day on Sunday.”
Cole and Dane both raced for years primarily in sprint cars and midgets. They are the sons of 17-time Indianapolis 500 starter and 1985 pole sitter Duane “Pancho” Carter, who is a longtime spotter working this weekend for Tristan Vautier in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.
“It’s easy to be a spotter if you were a driver,” said Dane. “Former drivers, a lot of times they know what drivers want to hear, what they don’t want to hear. Sometimes you get people (spotting) that will just talk too much. They say spotters talk a lot, but with Marco, there’s very little we talk about. It’s just short and concise, just what he needs to hear.”
Added Cole: “Like he said, Marco likes to hear very little and the last few years spotting for (James) Hinchcliffe, I couldn’t tell him too much information. Carlos is very similar. If he doesn’t hear from me in a couple laps, he starts wondering what’s going on around him, whereas to Marco it’s a distraction. You just kind of feel them out and what they like to hear. They’re all very different.”