Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hedge heads for US, with his sharp eyes on IndyCar

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Callum Hedge recently claimed the Australian Carrera Cup Championship.

A 20-year-old from Beachlands is set to compete in the 2024 Indy NXT by Firestone Series, the feeder category to the IndyCar Championship.

Callum Hedge has capped off a remarkable year, competing in and winning two different championships, on two continents in vastly different machines.

Hedge was arguably one of New Zealand’s busiest drivers in 2023 with his racing resume looking like this: 50 races, winning a staggering 40 per cent of the races he entered, bringing his win tally to 20.

Along the way he took 14 pole positions and a whopping 36 podiums.

Hedge started his racing year early in 2023, finishing runner-up in the Castrol Toyota FR Oceania championship in New Zealand.

From there he flew back and forth to the US, competing in the FR Americas Championship, which he won, dominating by securing 13 of 18 possible race wins.

As well as that, he raced in the Paynter Dixon Porsche Carrera Cup Championship in Australia, which he clinched last month at the final event at Adelaide.

Callum Hedge receiving his Championship title in Adelaide last week.

Despite missing the Bathurst event in October, he still managed to win the championship with four wins and eight podiums.

“This year has been busy to say the least. I think I’ve seen nearly every major airport in the US and Australia,” said Hedge.

“I’m thrilled to win both in the US, and closer to home in Australia. It wasn’t easy, but we fought through and got the wins in both Championships. The results have certainly opened doors for the future.”

For 2024, Hedge will compete in the IndyCar NXT by Firestone Series, the feeder category below the Verizon IndyCar Championship which fellow Kiwis Scott Dixon, Scott McLaughlin and Marcus Armstrong currently compete in.

Dixon won the feeder series in 2000, using it as a stepping stone to the main IndyCar Series.

Hedge tested his new Indy NXT car recently, and immediately impressed those looking on, and was promptly signed by the HMD Motorsports team, the same team who won the 2023 NXT Championship.

“I have had a taste of the Indy NXT machinery and am ready for the challenge that 2024 will bring,” said Hedge.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to join a championship-winning programme in HMD Motorsports and for my partners who continue to make my motorsports dream a reality.”

Hedge’s career in New Zealand is managed by respected former IndyCar team owner Steve Horne, and Mark Pilcher of M2 Competition, New Zealand’s leading single seater team.

“I can’t over-emphasise what Callum has managed to achieve this year, it’s very difficult,” says Hedge’s manager Horne, of M2 Competition Management.

Horne is more than qualified to comment, having guided the early careers of IndyCar stars Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves. The Brazilian racers both won the Indy 500 and championship titles.

Callum Hedge also won the 2023 FR America’s Championship.

Pilcher is equally as credentialled, having worked and developed some of the best young global racing talent, working with the likes of Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll all of whom are currently driving in F1.

Not to forget Kiwi Liam Lawson who is waiting in the wings for his full-time ride in F1.

“We identified late last year that Callum was an extraordinary talent and, with the support of his partners, we put together this busy programme.

“Jumping from a Porsche Cup Car, to a wing and slicks single seater, week in, week out, is not easy. We can’t stress that enough,” said Horne.

“Callum was often battling jet lag, but he got podiums or wins at nearly every event he went to throughout the year.”

Next year will see Hedge based in the US just outside of Indianapolis.

“I think it’s important to be based in the US for 2024, be close to the team and to learn as much as I can,” Hedge said.

His first race of the season will be at St Petersburg, Florida, in March. The 14 round championship finishes in Nashville in September.

Hedge’s 2023 and 2024 racing campaigns are being supported by the Tony Quinn Foundation, the Giltrap Group, and Tasman Motorsports Group.

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