Twenty year old George Michael Steinbrenner was born into a family that made their name in the world of sports. He is fully prepared to continue that legend, but his career preference is speed and cars, not baseballs and bats.
When asked how he made the choice between continuing the family trade, as it were, or pursuing a career in motorsports he explained that it was never an ultimatum moment of “hey, pick one!”. It was just a natural pull for him towards racing. I think that’s pretty cool to hear because let’s be honest, the IndyCar Series is definitely growing and moving in the right direction, and to hear someone from arguably the most legendary baseball-family picking the checkered flags over the most famous pinstripes in the world… that’s a true testament to the passion and dedication of those that follow this open-wheel sport.
From all accounts, it looks like this young entrepreneur could have a long and successful career in the world of motorsports. He started Steinbrenner Racing with a desire to use his skills in a managing and marketing capacity.
Steinbrenner is currently managing Colton Herta in a 2017 Indy Lights program, developed in conjunction with Andretti Autosport. Their first race weekend in St. Petersburg last month yielded a P2 result in Race 1 and a Race 2 win to close the weekend. While certainly impressive, it’s not incredibly surprising given that racing runs in the blood of both these young men.
Steinbrenner’s cousin was the late Tony Renna, an IRL driver who passed away after an accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003. Steinbrenner always watched him race and ended up falling in love with the sport, but confirmed that once his cousin died, he knew he didn’t want to be behind the wheel.
Colton is the son of Bryan Herta, team strategist for Marco Andretti in the Andretti-Herta Autosport partnership. He’s won the Indianapolis 500 twice as an owner, with the late Dan Wheldon in 2011 and again with rookie Alexander Rossi in 2016. Herta competed in CART and IndyCar earning a combined 4 wins and a podium finish of P3 at the 2005 Indianapolis 500. Colton has the racing gene as well, and has already proved in multiple series around the globe that he has the ability to keep his family name in the world of motorsports for many decades to come.
Herta and Steinbrenner (who have known one another since a young age through Skip Barber racing) are very similar in that aspect, but neither of them carries a sense of entitlement, which is equally refreshing as it is promising. The confidence of both in this endeavor is evident and during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, they shared their next large but attainable goal: to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series within the next two years.
Steinbrenner and Herta commented on how different IndyCar and racing in the States in general is, compared to racing in Europe. Series like Formula 1 don’t allow fans in the paddock or garages, whereas the fans are permitted and welcomed into those areas in IndyCar, not to mention the access to the drivers themselves in incomparable. Herta explained that being a race driver in Europe is a more sheltered experience because there are a lot of opinionated people that will try and take advantage of you, and he’s glad to not see that here.
Upon Herta returning to America, Steinbrenner saw all the puzzle pieces coming together and realized that the time was right to make the dream happen. They are off to one heck of an impressive start and I for one look forward to seeing what the young team is capable of this season and in coming years. Buckle up, kids.