The final weekend of May is fast shaping up to be one Kyle O’Gara won’t soon forget.
After driving in the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24, the following morning O’Gara will don a cap and gown as he graduates from Roncalli High School.
Only after the final diploma is handed out will O’Gara be able to shift back into racing mode. He’ll have to. Within a matter of hours he’ll be expected at Lucas Oil Raceway to participate in the annual “Night Before the 500” USAC midgets race.
The official announcement of O’Gara’s Firestone Indy Lights debut came during a news conference Wednesday at Roncalli. His participation in the Freedom 100 is made possible through a partnership between Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Andy O’Gara, Kyle’s older brother, is Fisher’s husband and general manager of the Fisher racing team.
“I can’t even explain it. It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career,” said Kyle O’Gara, who was seated between Fisher and Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach on the stage inside the Roncalli auditorium. “I’m very happy to be a part of it. When they put an opportunity like that in front of you, you can’t turn it down.”
Though only 18, O’Gara claims he’s been intrigued by Indianapolis Motor Speedway most his life. His first “500” memory is Helio Castroneves taking the checkered flag in 2001 for the first of his three victories.
“The past few years I’ve been back in the garage area, but I don’t think I’ve missed a ‘500’ since I was 2,” he said. “This is important to me, and I’m glad I get to do it.”
In October O’Gara passed his Indy Lights rookie test at Kentucky Speedway. His development has been under the close eye of Fisher, 32, a nine-time Indianapolis 500 qualifier and O’Gara’s sister-in-law since she and Andy wed in September 2007.
“I’ve been watching Kyle since he was 8 years old, so taking him to Indianapolis has been a goal of mine,” Fisher said. “We’re putting him in a situation with the skill set that he has to hopefully win.”
O’Gara will have plenty of fan support when he tests the turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during actual competition for the first time.
Roncalli students and faculty will receive complimentary tickets to the Freedom 100.
“First off, Kyle is an outstanding student. On behalf of the school, we couldn’t be prouder. I think his classmates and friends are extremely proud of him,” Weisenbach said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with it, and we’ll make sure Kyle is well-represented come May.”