Indy Lights graduate RC Enerson looks to turn heads in IndyCar test at COTA
Former Indy Lights driver RC Enerson is attempting to kick-start his NTT IndyCar Series career this week at Circuit of the Americas. The 21-year-old driver from New Port Richey, Florida, competed in three IndyCar contests in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing with a best finish of ninth at Watkins Glen International.
Enerson is taking his rookie test with Carlin Racing. He was in the car last weekend during a large IndyCar test at Laguna Seca and is part of the annual IndyCar “Spring Training” test at Circuit of the Americas.
Enerson’s best time in Tuesday’s combined test sessions was 1:48.9955 around the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course for a speed of 112.629 miles per hour in a Chevrolet. The time was 12th quickest among the 25 cars on the track.
“We came out of the morning session in P4, so I was happy with that,” Enerson said. “I feel like we got off to a good start here at COTA and continued to progress throughout the afternoon. The car keeps getting better and we keep getting faster, so we're just really holding onto the momentum. It's great to have Max (Chilton) as a teammate, especially going through these long days of testing where he's progressing and getting faster throughout the day, too. I'm excited to get back on track Wednesday, especially considering how much we learned today."
Enerson competed in the full Indy Lights Series schedule in 2015, finishing fourth for the championship. He ran in eight of the 18 races in 2016, getting a chance to run in IndyCar for three events at the end of the season.
In 2017, Enerson competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Ligier for Mathiasen Motorsports, finishing ninth in the Prototype category.
Without any competitive racing since then, how has Enerson stayed sharp?
“Because my dad owns the Lucas Oil School of Racing, I was driving those cars all the time, so I was at least driving something,” Enerson said. “Even though it’s not of the horsepower or downforce of an Indy car, it keeps you a bit active. I’m still doing some prototype stuff to keep the reflexes sharp. I think that helped with coming back and being as strong as we did.”
Enerson said the current Indy car feels similar to the Lights car with less downforce that dances around. That allows the driver to work with the car.
“I’ve always liked a loose race car and the ability to muscle it around, so that suits my driving style pretty well,” Enerson said. “The other Indy car had so much downforce, it was stuck to the ground. This one moves around a bit.”
Enerson did the most laps of any driver at last week’s test at Laguna Seca.
“Laguna was low grip, as usual, but I’ve raced there in Indy Lights before so that gave us a bit of an advantage,” Enerson said. “Another test with the team helped grow the bond with them and I think we got out a lot out of it. At COTA, we want to be quick, show what we can do and hopefully that will help promote getting to races this year.”
The driver prepared for COTA with simulators and iRacing.
Enerson looks at this week as an audition. He knows he needs to be fast without making mistakes.
“There is always a fine line with us,” Enerson said. “I want to be as helpful to the team as well. I am there to show the team what I can do, but I’m also there to help with setups on the car and progress their program. I’m there to do both things. Trying to dance around that line is very fine, but we have done a good job not stepping over it.
“Of course, there is pressure. Anybody who says there is no pressure is not telling the truth.”
Craft 1861, a leading provider of wellness products based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is sponsoring Enerson during his rookie tests with Carlin. He is hoping to turn it into a full-time deal.
“It’s hard to find the budget to go to places, and one of the hardest things in racing is to stay in the car all the time,” Enerson said. “It’s tough to watch the races and not be in it. That’s the hardest part about being a race driver when you watch the race and not be in.
“Now that we are testing, the confidence is full forward.”