WORDS BY PAUL HANAPHY | IMAGES BY INDYCAR
Nolan Siegel may be just 18 years old, but having tasted victory in his first Indy NXT season and clinched podiums at three prestigious endurance races, it’s clear that he’s going places.
Promoted to NXT after a white-hot Indy Pro 2000 season, in which he fought for the title until the last race, Siegel has already made his mark in IndyCar’s top feeder series. Despite having to balance single-seater and endurance racing, the young American has flourished in NXT, winning back-to-back races in Detroit and Wisconsin - at the time sending him top of the standings.
Now he’s as confident as ever that he can go on to achieve his racing dream: competing to win the IndyCar Series. But for Siegel, this hasn’t always been the case.
Not born into a motorsport family, the Californian wasn’t bitten by the racing bug until his father took him to Sonoma Raceway as an eight-year-old. However, once there, Siegel says karting had him “hooked instantly,” and having shown promise at the track’s racing school, its trainers were able to connect him with endurance teams and the Road to Indy feeder program.
“Sonoma ended up being a great place to be. They had a racing school there with an F3 car, so that’s where I first drove a proper race car,” said Siegel. “It just ended up being a great group of people that were all well-connected - I'm still super close with all the coaches now.”
Since then, Siegel has put in impressive showings in USF2000 and the Indy Pro 2000 series, accumulating multiple podiums and winning lights-to-flag in St Petersburg last year.
Despite suffering from unreliability and unfortunate timing with on-track incidents, he has also impressed this year, making a storming start to the championship. Siegel puts this down to his HMD Motorsports crew - the same one who serviced Linus Lundqvist’s 2022 title-winning car.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though, and while he has quickly come to terms with the pace of his Indy NXT car, he says the field isn’t making it easy to fight at the front.
“You’re always racing different people just because everything is so close, that one weekend you can be miles ahead, and the next you can qualify ninth and still feel like you've done a good job,” explained Siegel.
“It’s such a competitive field, every race is super intense. Everyone's just so close, you have to be nearly perfect every weekend, because someone else will be.”
Moving forwards, Siegel says winning the IndyCar Series is his main goal, but he believes his ongoing sportscar career is giving him “a good advantage” over single-series competitors – in that it’s helping him get on top of race tyre and fuel management.
With 24 Hours of Daytona and Asian Le Mans series podiums already to his name, Siegel has also picked up a knack for handling the bigger, heavier, higher downforce LMP3 cars. So, given his multi-category flexibility, does he see himself racing in endurance long-term?
“I would love to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way,” added Siegel. “I've done all the big endurance races in the US. Doing Le Mans would be fun. You know, there were talks of it this year, but nothing came together.
“Every time you go to Daytona, Sebring, all these big endurance races, you realise how special those races are. I also really, really enjoy endurance racing. But no, IndyCar is the goal.”
As his whirlwind 2023 season nears an end, it’s clear that his ambitions have been emboldened, not diminished. Siegel also name drops Spa, Monaco, and Le Mans as circuits he’d “love to try out,” but it’s clear that completing the Road to Indy is now a not-so-distant dream.