It’s a Matter of Pride for Norway’s Krohn

HOUSTON, March 19 – This year Anders “The Viking” Krohn is taking a
giant step closer to his goal of becoming only the second Norwegian
race car driver to compete in the world’s greatest auto race, the
Indianapolis 500.

Krohn, 23, who resides in Houston, Texas, will drive the Belardi Auto
Racing No. 9 this year in Firestone Indy Lights. It is the official
development series of the IZOD IndyCar Series, which is similar to the
Nationwide series’ relationship to NASCAR Sprint Cup, or a top
collegiate football program’s relationship to the National Football
League. It’s the top step on open-wheel racing’s Mazda Road to Indy
ladder system, and a proven arena for drivers to impress IndyCar
owners who keep their eyes peeled for rising stars.

The fact that the native of Stavanger, Norway has made it this far
since his first race in the United States just four years ago is
nothing short of amazing. His family is not wealthy and he has almost
single-handedly assembled the sponsorship support to make his racing
program a reality. That’s why it’s not surprising that the first
thing he wants to mention in any interview are the companies that
support him, which include Liberty Engineering, Logi Trans Offshore
Express, Trallfa, PM International Suppliers, ZAT Graphics, Eagles
Canyon Raceway, OMP and Bell Helmets.

Krohn was extremely successful in karting and junior formula-car
racing in Europe before he ventured across the ocean to race in the
United States. Those trans-Atlantic flights were rewarded when he
earned both the driver championship and the Rookie of the Year award
in the F2000 Championship Series in 2008, winning nine of the 14
races. He advanced to Star Mazda in 2009, finishing sixth in points
and winning his first oval-track race ever when he was victorious at
the Milwaukee Mile. He was never out of the top five in any Star Mazda
race last year, finishing second in the point standings with Andersen
Racing.

He also tested the waters in Firestone Indy Lights last year by
entering one race, an event at Watkins Glen International in Watkins
Glen, N.Y. last July. He impressed everyone when he ran as high as
fourth before gearbox problems relegated him to a tenth-place finish.

Although both Krohn and Belardi Auto Racing are rookies this year in
Firestone Indy Lights, Krohn is expected to add to the fan base he’s
built in America as one of the most popular drivers in the junior
formula-car ranks. He’s friendly and accessible; he has a group page
on Facebook and his tweets can be found on Twitter and his Web site at
anderskrohn.com. He has a large following in his native land and he is
becoming better known by all Americans and especially those of
Norwegian heritage, which numbered about 4.9 million according to the
2000 U.S. Census. Krohn has a rather zany sense of humor, and if
pressed he can display his unusual ability of being able to rap in
Norwegian.

But Krohn is most interested in showing his talents where it counts -
the racetrack.

The task ahead poses more challenges than simply driving fast. He’s a
rookie on a brand-new team and he has never driven or tested any car
on 62 percent of the 13 tracks he’ll face this year.

But fans have learned never to count “The Viking” out.

Although Brian Belardi formed his operation just last December and the
team moved into its new facilities in Brownsburg, Ind., near
Indianapolis, a few weeks ago, it reunites Krohn with several key team
members. Belardi Auto Racing’s general manager and technical
director, Larry Nash, was the engineer who helped Krohn win his first
oval-track race ever. Krohn has also worked with his chief engineer,
Mike Reggio, and his chief mechanic, Chuck Lessick, in the past while
driving for Andersen Racing, a team that is not competing in Firestone
Indy Lights or Star Mazda this year. Other familiar faces to Krohn
will be Lou D’Agostino, who will also help on the engineering side,
and motorsports marketing expert LeeAnne Nash.

These synergies are vitally important.

“I’ve known Mike [Reggio] since my first season racing in the United
States, and I have a tremendous amount of trust in him,” Krohn said.
“He knows how to interpret what I’m saying; it’s a great situation.

“Watching how quickly Belardi Auto Racing has progressed already has
been fantastic,” Krohn added. “To see it go from an idea in October
to where we are now has been amazing to watch. It’s been a great
adventure already. I want to give back to these people what they’ve
given to me, which is a huge faith in my talents. Brian Belardi has
put a lot of faith in me, and I intend to repay that faith with
results.”

The season starts Sunday, March 27 on the 1.81-mile street course in
St. Petersburg, Fla., and then moves to Barber Motorsports Park near
Birmingham, Ala. April 10 and the street circuit in Long Beach,
Calif., on April 17 before the Firestone Freedom 100 at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27. Two more ovals – the Milwaukee
Mile on June 19 and Iowa Speedway on June 25 – precede three races in
Canada: Toronto July 10; Edmonton July 24 and Trois-Rivieres Aug. 7.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway rejoins the calendar for a race on Aug.
14 followed by a brand-new venue, the street circuit around
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, on Sept. 4. Two more oval tracks – Kentucky
Speedway on Oct. 2 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16 – round out
the schedule.

Eight of the 13 races (Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach,
Indianapolis, Iowa, Toronto, Edmonton, Baltimore and Kentucky) will be
broadcast live on the VERSUS cable TV network in America, while the
race at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec will be broadcast on a tape-delayed
basis on the same network.

“One of the most challenging things for me this year will be my
development as a driver and how to develop the car quickly, because
for the majority of the races there is no testing allowed beforehand,”
Krohn explained. “There are usually only two 45-minute practice
sessions before qualifying, so you need to have a car that is quick
right off the bat or else you’re already in trouble. With the
expertise of the people on our team and with me pushing as hard as
possible, I think we should be just fine.”

Although oval tracks and their lack of run-offs frighten many road
racers, Krohn is actually looking forward to them. “I’ve always liked
the ovals, right since my first one at Milwaukee,” he said. “I think
it suits my driving. Hopefully I’m crazy enough to utilize the car to
its potential. It should be exciting!”

The season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., is just days away on
Sunday, March 27. Live timing and scoring will be available on
indycar.com. Krohn is slated to be on the 14-turn track in his
Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time at 2 p.m. Friday, March
25 for a 45-minute practice session. Another 45-minute practice
session is on the docket at 9:10 a.m. on Saturday, March 26 before
qualifying is held at 1:25 p.m. that afternoon. There is a 15-minute
warm-up session at 8:05 a.m. on Sunday, March 27, with the 45-lap race
following at 10:30 a.m., just a few hours before the iZOD_IndyCar
Series race. All times are Eastern.

Krohn’s favorite IZOD IndyCar Series driver is Great Britain’s Justin
Wilson, an ex-Formula 1 driver who now drives Indy cars for Dreyer &
Reinbold Racing. “I like the way he behaves on and off the track,”
Krohn said. “He’s done some amazing things with some teams that have
less funding than the others, and he also seems to have a very nice
personality.”

A good personality is important for all professional athletes. “We’ll
be doing sponsor hospitality at the majority of the Firestone Indy
Lights races this year,” Krohn said. “We’re going to have a suite at
the Indianapolis 500 for all of our partners. We have 37 guests
coming to the season opener at St. Petersburg.

“There’s been a bit of a break-through in interest in my program this
winter,” he added. “There are a lot more people starting to pay
attention to what we’re doing now, and it’s great to see. It’s all
very positive. A lot of Norwegians will be coming over to Indy this
year, and it’s great to see them take enjoyment out of it.

“There’s some national pride involved,” he added with a smile. “I
want to make my nation proud, as well as all my new friends here in
America.”

For more information see Krohn’s Web site at anderkrohn.com; the
series’ Web site at indycar.com/fil and the team’s Web site at
belardiautoracing.com.

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