Lindsay Brewer: Not What You Think (2024)

Most of you that have followed this site for a while, know that I don’t do many interviews. I can probably count on one hand how many actual sit-down one-on-one interviews I have done in the near-fifteen years of this site – and they all occurred within about a six-month period in 2011. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter were all done in spring of 2011. That summer, IndyCar asked me to meet Indy Lights driver Josef Newgarden in Nashville and interview him.

When I interviewed the first three, I had a pad of questions I had jotted down. It’s good to be prepared, but it seemed like we were restricted to those questions. It felt very unnatural and awkward (which explains why I don’t do interviews). When I met Newgarden, I had no notice. I just left work early, drove to the Cheesecake Factory in Nashville and we just sat and talked. It was an actual conversation that just flowed naturally. I had nothing prepared, so it was really just two guys talking about racing with nothing scripted. Consequently, it was the best interview I ever did.

Fast forward almost a dozen years. This past week, I received an email sent to several in IndyCar media, asking if I would be interested in interviewing Indy NXT driver Lindsay Brewer, who is driving for Juncos Hollinger Racing this season. I was perplexed why IndyCar would suggest to them I do this. I know others on site have or will interview her this weekend, but it’s been a while since I’ve done this. I don’t do interviews and I don’t follow any of the (formerly known as) Road to Indy Series. Fortunately, hers was one of the few names I knew from the roster of the current Indy NXT drivers. I decided to broaden my horizons, so I said I would do it.

I knew I was not going jot down anything. Winging it worked so much better with Newgarden, so I walked in empty-handed – but Susan had some questions written down to ask from her perspective. But I was not going into this blindly. I made calls to friends I know that follow the NXT series more closely. I looked her up and researched her career thoroughly over the last few days. What I was finding told a far different story, than what my initial perceptions led me to believe.

I first became aware of Lindsay Brewer in 2022, when she was driving in the Indy Pro 2000 series. Being the shallow and superficial man that I am, it was her looks that got my attention. I was in the IMS Center over the Grand Prix weekend, and they had one of their races on the monitors. I happened to be watching it, when they flashed up her photo. I immediately yelled out “Who is that?” One of the more serious journalists around me told me her name and simply said he was new. So to say that I took note of her due to her racing prowess would be a lie.

I never sought out her results, but if I happened to see the race results of US Pro 2000, I was curious to see how she did. The results were usually not great, but they were seldom awful. She was usually in the bottom third of the field, although she did finish eighth in that first race where I noticed her.

I’ll be honest, I had assumed that she was a wealthy and very attractive young woman, who thought she would get into racing as a sideline gig – possibly just to draw attention to herself. Well, you know what happens when you assume…

After doing my research, it became quite apparent that my assumptions could not have been any further from the truth. The only thing I got right was the attractive part. You don’t judge a book by its cover. The truth of the matter is that she does not come from a wealthy family at all. As she said on Friday, they do OK, but they certainly don’t have the ability to fund any of her racing. When she was eleven, she found that she loved racing karts and that she had a talent for it. Her father bought her a shifter kart and her career took off.

But not having family money to back her, she ran into the oldest barrier in racing – funding. Sponsors seemed to want to back her, but after a few races in various series, the money dried up. It’s a constant story in racing. Companies sign up, but then the checks stop coming.

She was still in high school, so she had to make a decision – does she keep chasing the dream, or does she do the “smart” thing and go to college. She ultimately went to college and got a business degree at San Diego State University. But in the four years she was in college, she felt a void. Something was missing in her life, and that something was racing.

After graduating in 2019, she decided to pursue her dream and fill that void. Unfortunately, four years out of the car at an age when other drivers are really starting to hone their skills is a huge window. When she was learning about micro-economics and marketing ventures, her peers were learning where to enter a turn and exactly how early to get back on the throttle. She found herself in severe catch-up mode. While she is grateful for the four years of college and having a degree to fall back on, she knows she lost a lot of track time while sitting in class.

One thing that came across very clearly in our interview was that Lindsay Brewer is a very savvy business person. She has over 4 Million followers across various social media platforms. While it appears she leads a glamorous life on Instagram and Tik Tok, she pours every single cent of what she makes into her racing program. She said she will be at the F1 race in Miami associating with many high-level racing individuals, as well as current celebrities – but she is being paid to be there through social media. That check goes straight back into her racing career. So when you see certain social media types showing themselves in glamorous locales, they are not doing this out of sheer vanity. They are being paid to do so.

We asked about her career path and what other ways she might go. She said she has had opportunities to go to IMSA and even into NASCAR. She said it’s tempting for several young women drivers to go that way, because the cars in both series are easier to drive with power-steering and, quite frankly, it’s easier to get funding. But her true love is open-wheel racing. That’s where her heart is and that’s where she wants to be. That’s why she is pouring her money into her IndyCar career.

What I found refreshing in talking with her is that she is very frank and candid. She does not speak in corporate buzzwords, nor does she run away from the fact that she has struggled so far, since she came back to racing after college. She recognizes that being out of any form of a race car for four years has created an uphill battle. She is very realistic about her struggles, but still remains optimistic. Brewer is now 27, yet she has only raced about a year and a half in open-wheel racing. She is still re-learning the basics, while her original peers are perfecting their skills.

In the offseason, she was picked up Juncos Hollinger Racing for their Indy NXT program. If you combine the three JHR drivers; Romain Grosjean, Agustin Canapino and Lindsay Brewer; you are looking at probably more social media followers than the rest of the IndyCar paddock combined. According to Brewer, Ricardo Juncos recognizes the value of social media and knows how to utilize it.

Brewer also freely admits that she still needs to strengthen her upper body to be able to compete on demanding road courses like Barber. She also acknowledged to us that she is not always as aggressive as she needs to be. She was less than an hour removed from stepping out of the car after Friday’s practice, where she set the lowest time in the field, with a time of 1:16.8078 – almost five seconds off the pace. She said she had a great lap going, and approached a key turn. She inadvertently lifted and ruined her lap. She told us that it is the sickest feeling in the world to lift, when you know you have the car and the talent to go through flat-out.

That’s where her lack of experience comes in. She is racing against some drivers that are eight years younger than she is, but they didn’t have a four-year interruption for school.. Lindsey is very methodical in her outlook. She is looking at Indy NXT as a two-year plan. That’s going to require a lot of patience and discipline by her, but also her car-owner – Ricardo Juncos. Just remember, it took Jamie Chadwick about two-thirds of last season to find her way. She struggled mightily in her first season of Indy NXT. She is now considered one of the front-runners.

Lindsey is not having a good weekend so far. She was last in the first practice. In the second practice she improved her time by one second, but was still last. Things did not go well for her in qualifying either. She will start nineteenth in tomorrow morning’s Indy NXT race.

We visited almost an hour with Lindsay Brewer and her manager. We probably talked for forty-five minutes before the topic of women in motorsports came up. I told her that I try not to compare other female drivers to each other, almost as if it’s a subset or best in class. I try to compare drivers to drivers. She appreciated that and felt it does minimize what women have accomplished when they are only compared to each other, and not all drivers.

Susan asked her if she has received support from other female drivers, or if they resent her because she is capitalizing on her appearance to fund her racing. She said most of the female drivers have been very supportive of her off-track activities and have been giving her constructive advice on what to do on-track. I caught her on the word “most”, but she wouldn’t bite. She refused to say who she was talking about

Make no doubt, Lindsay Brewer is proud to be a woman driver, but she also enjoys being a woman. Susan did some research as well, and found that there is a segment of women that are critical of how she will frequently post photos of her in swimwear. They claim she is setting women back, in a time when women should be lauded for their accomplishments, rather than their looks. I disagree. Right or wrong, her social media presence is enhanced by her appearance. If she has this avenue for a funding stream, she would be foolish to not utilize it. How else is she going to fund her dream?

Susan also asked her an easier question; If she could pick anyone to sponsor her, who would it be? She thought for a minute, and first said Starbucks, but then it occurred to her – Chanel. She said she thought it would look so good to see Chanel on her sidepods. Here is a photo from our interview on Friday, as well as some shots that Susan took at Indy NXT practice this morning, plus one where she graciously posed with a fan that barely let her get her helmet off, before asking for a photo..

I don’t have a whole lot of talents, but I’ve always been told I can read people really well…and quickly. My ex-wife notwithstanding, I have the ability to determine if someone is being genuine or feeding me a line to suit their purpose. If it’s possible to make such a determination after chatting for one hour, I am confident in saying that Lindsay brewer is the real deal. Will she make it out of Indy NXT and be an IndyCar rookie in 2026? I can’t say. Based on the snapshot of what we saw on-track from her, that could be a stretch. But she has a plan and if Ricardo Juncos will be patient and let her work that plan – she may be one of the contenders in Indy NXT for 2025.

My perception of Lindsay Brewer has changed 180° from this time a week ago. The person I assumed was a very vain social media influencer, who only dabbled in racing as a sideline; has convinced me that she is doing whatever she can to keep her dream of racing in open-wheel racing. She is not delusional about her situation. She knows she faces an uphill battle in funding, as well as track time. She impressed us as a savvy business-person, who is a hard worker and is extremely passionate about open-wheel racing. She made two additional fans on Friday.

Follow Lindsay Brewer this season as she continues to find her footing in Indy NXT in the No. 76 C4 Energy Drink Dallara for Juncos Hollinger Racing.

George Phillips

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Lindsay Brewer: Not What You Think (2024)
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