The 2019 NTT IndyCar season began earlier this month in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Red Deer native Parker Thompson was there to race in the Indy Pro 2000 category. Meanwhile, a full season commitment will require extended sponsorship support. photo submitted

Parker Thompson makes a big splash to start the 2019 Road to Indy race season

Double victories in St. Petersburg indicate 2019 could be Thompson’s best season yet

Launching this month in Florida, the 2019 NTT IndyCar season featured Red Deer native Parker Thompson racing in the Indy Pro 2000 category at the 2019 Firestone Grand Prix at St. Petersburg.

Serving as a feeder series for the top-level IndyCar championship, Indy Pro 2000 is contested by young professional racers from around the world, noted a release.

“I had a great weekend in St. Petersburg with Abel Motorsports, and I’d love the opportunity to repeat that in Indianapolis this May,” said Thompson. “At every level, it is a team sport that requires involvement from a big group of people both on and off the track.”

Thompson, 21, explained that IndyCar is the end goal.

“I’ve had my sights on it ever since I started racing cars. Many of my experiences suggest that I already have the skills to pilot the big cars, but auto racing is often about more than performance behind the wheel.”

Right now, Thompson said he is in real need of bolstered national exposure in order to get more sponsorship behind him to finish out the season with Abel Motorsports.

“This off-season has been a tough one for me,” he said during a recent chat. “I didn’t raise the sponsorship needed to start the season, and up until a week before (St. Petersburg) which is the first race, I didn’t have a team to drive for.

“Rewind to about three weeks ago, I got a call from a team a week before the race. It was Abel Motorsports which was looking for me to come and test in Miami. What started out as just a test for the team ended up being getting the nod to go and start the Grand Prix at St. Petersburg with them,” he said. “It all came together, and I was able to go and showcase what that car could do and what I could do.”

In the meantime, he’s focused on garnering further sponsorships and part of that is raising awareness about his passion for racing, not to mention his expanding potential in the industry.

“If you know someone who knows someone who potentially might want to get involved in a young Indy car driver’s career – that is the goal,” he explained.

“What’s really interesting over the years, especially when we look at the Alberta economy and the economy across Canada, is that I’ve had to become creative in the ways that I offer sponsorships,” he said. “It’s less about the sticker on the car and more about providing experiences now.

“I have companies come up from Calgary and Red Deer to races, and we cater to them all weekend. We put them up in a suite, and we really provide an experience,” he added. “They can also listen to me and my engineer talk as I drive in the race. They can be part of the pit crew. So if anyone has an interest in racing, no budget is too small to get involved.”

Thompson launched into racing as a kid and essentially has never looked back.

“My dad actually raced in numerous platforms in motorsport,” he recalled. “He raced with dirt bikes, grand prix bikes which he was very successful in, and he was actually professional for some time as well. He also raced riverboats!

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Peace River with my dad watching him compete in jetboat racing, too. So from ages one to five is when I really grew close to all things ‘fast’ through my dad,” he explained.

“I seriously can’t think back to a time when I didn’t want to be a race car driver,” he said. “There isn’t an aspect of it that I don’t love. I also love speaking and raising awareness about motorsports.”

He also launched a program called Drive to Stay Alive in 2015 which is a campaign to cut the amount of distracted driving taking place on roads across North America.

“That all ties into me sharing the message of racing and the message of being a safety advocate on the public roads,” he said. “I do love the business of it – I love getting people involved.”

Meanwhile, double victories snapped up in St. Petersburg show that 2019 could be Thompson’s best season yet.

“I’ve received an outpouring of support from all across Canada and from the motor sport community,” he said, adding that he feels excited when he considers what 2019 could hold. “I just had a new sponsor come onboard, and there has been a lot of excitement around what we can do.”

With the next event in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship slated for May 9th to 11th in Indianapolis, Thompson has about two months to solidify the partnerships that will allow him to continue his pursuit of a championship title in 2019.

“We now have two months to go out and raise some money to show up at Indianapolis – the racing capital of the world. So I’m excited to just do what we can.”

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