At first sight, the top of Josef Newgarden’s helmet could look like a jumble of letters and numbers that predict some sort of Mayan prophecy.
But get him talking about it and he can decode each and every symbol, all representing someone special that he takes with him every time he steps into the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
“The top of the helmet has the letterings and initials, with middle name, for each mechanic, each person that’s on the team and that touches the car,” he explained. “Anyone that touches the car is on top of this lid. Anyone that has placed their hand on the car is basically on here.”
Throughout a long journey that took him over to Europe and ultimately back to the U.S., where he won the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship, Newgarden learned to appreciate his crew members. To him, those were the people that really fueled his career and helped him attain his goal of racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Beginning in December, days after he signed with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Newgarden made it a point to immerse himself in everything he could around the team shop in order to familiarize himself with his new crew members. He gathered lists of everyone’s name and birthday to accumulate on his first helmet for the season opener in St. Petersburg.
“I didn’t really know everyone super well at that point, and through exchanging emails I left a few people out by accident on my first helmet,” Newgarden said. “So it became kind of a joke around the shop, like ‘Hey! You left me off the helmet!’ The guys were joking with me that they got left off. It was all fun and games, but I made sure to get the names right on the second one.”
He’s confident he’ll be sporting the complete list on the Brett King Design helmet in Brazil this upcoming weekend, and is honored by the idea of having his career enablers with him every step of the way.
“I think I liked the idea of having them on the helmet with me, just because we bonded really well, really quickly,” he said. “I think because we had all that chemistry, it was really important for me that they have a place on the helmet as well. It was something that meant something.”