‘It’s really really tough’: IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward talks racing in Long Beach

Not too many of us can say we knew exactly what we wanted to do for a living at age 6. Even fewer can say they succeeded in their career path just 10 years later at the age of 16.

But that was the road for two-time Indycar Series winner Pato O’Ward.

After winning at Texas Motor Speedway and on Belle Isle in Detroit, O’Ward joined the Arrow McLaren SP team. Now, the 22-year-old Mexican driver is racing in his third full-time season in IndyCar with the team.

The young driver has experience with the Long Beach track and says it does present some challenges. “It’s a street course,” said O’Ward. “You’re around walls, there’s not a lot of room for error, it’s a difficult track just because it’s technical.”

He says because it is such a tight race, the emphasis is on qualifying and starting toward the front. O’Ward is also thankful the weather will be cooler for Saturday’s qualifier and Sunday’s race, but he says often people overlook the physicality of racing.

“People think, oh they just get in the car and they drive,” said O’Ward. “But your body goes through a lot of stress. Your neck goes through a lot of stress. Your back, your spine, your legs. It’s tough! It’s really really tough.”

O’Ward says he works out often to make sure his body is prepared for the physical challenges of racing. Mentally, he stays in the moment. After Sunday’s race, O’Ward and the McLaren team will head to Birmingham, Alabama, which O’Ward says is the most physical race on the calendar.

After that, he and his team start working toward the Indy 500 on May 29. You can follow O’Ward on his racing journey on his Instagram. You can also follow the Arrow McLaren SP team here.

The IndyCar race in Long Beach, the third in the series, gets underway at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and will be broadcast on network television.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jackie Rae is a multimedia reporter for the Long Beach Post who joined in May 2021.
- ADVERTISEMENT -

More