I had the opportunity to interview Carlos Munoz recently, who drives the number 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosports in Indy Lights. With wins at the Legacy Indy Lights 100 in Birmingham, the Long Beach 100, and Pocono Raceway and a podium at the Milwaukee Mile, he is in the lead of the championship points standing by only six points over second-place Sage Karam. He also had a spectacular race in the Indy 500, his first Izod IndyCar Series appearance, coming in second place behind first-time winner Tony Kanaan. In his second IndyCar race, he was able to move up seven spots to 17th. With all this success at the age of 21, he is a young star to keep an eye on. Here’s the interview:
Isabelle Beecy: You placed 2nd place at this year's Indy 500, the best performance by a rookie since Marco Andretti in 2006. If offered a ride in IndyCar, would you take it? Or would you wait a year so you could get more comfortable in the cars?
Carlos Munoz: Given the opportunity, I would absolutely move up to IndyCar. The Indianapolis 500 was a great experience and I’m ready to make that next step for next year as an IndyCar driver. I feel comfortable in the cars and I’m ready, hopefully for a long time.
IB: If you had the power and freedom to choose, which IndyCar team would you most like to drive for?
CM: As a driver you always have to put yourself in a winning position. You want a good car and a strong team behind you. Andretti Autosport is a great team and a very competitive team. I’m very happy to be with them and it would be great to continue with them next year in IndyCar. Of course, I will take any opportunity that comes my way in IndyCar, but I want to be on a team that will allow me to drive for a full season so I can demonstrate my abilities as a driver and succeed.
IB: Given the opportunity, would you like to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
CM: It’s a very prestigious race, so of course I would like to drive one of these days in the 24-hour race.
IB: Describe the sensation of driving in open wheel cars - is it a total rush or does it to go in total slow motion for you each race?
CM: When I was driving in the Indy 500 everything was so much faster than my Indy Lights car, but after a few laps and getting used to the car, the laps got slower. You cannot let the speeds affect you while you’re driving, you have to be really quick to adapt and make changes.
IB: What are some of the ways that you prepare for a race? Do you have a workout regime to keep physically fit?
CM: I am running the Half-IRONMAN at the end of the year, so my training combines activities specific to driving and to the IRONMAN. You have to be really fit for IndyCar so I stay as active as possible during my downtime between races. I live in Miami, so typically when I get home I cycle, run, swim, kite surf, go kayaking and go-karting.
IB: Which drivers do you look up to for in the garage area for advice on the track and professionally?
CM: I have never had idols, however, I look up to a lot of drivers and their dedication for the sport. I look up to Tony Kanaan, for the way he trains and prepares for each race and I look up to Will Power for his speed. Dario Franchitti is smart and really quick, so I take pointers just by watching how he approaches each race and his mentality on the track.
IB: Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years as a driver?
CM: I see myself in a full-time position as an IZOD IndyCar Series driver. I hope to have my first Indianapolis 500 title in the next three to five years too.