Lunch With Ryan Briscoe

Big Bend, WI (May 9, 2012) – Invite me to a free lunch and I’m there. Oh, have lunch with Ryan Briscoe, IZOD IndyCar driver? Even better. The Australian-native has had quite the worldwide motorsports experience for someone a youthful 30 years old. A champion go-kart racer who moved to Europe in his late-teens, Briscoe progressed through the formulas up to Formula-Three (there was no GP2 at the time). He even became a test driver for Toyota and their Formula One team traveling to China and Eastern Europe.

Briscoe was in town making the media rounds on behalf of the upcoming Milwaukee IndyFest. A small group of Milwaukee media members met at a downtown establishment and ate lunch with Briscoe. We had an enjoyable conversation, chit chatting about the Packers, bench racing and even the new IndyCar.

Asked about the larger cockpit sizing of the new Dallara chassis, Briscoe made an interesting point. The drivers are as “cramped” as ever because of the addition of energy absorbent padding. At the factory the car has an inch and a half energy absorbent material laid on the bottom of the tub. Then the driver gets his seat fitted, which the fit is still tight, but the driver has more energy absorbent foam surrounding him including underneath. Many taller drivers in the past, wishing to sit as low as possible had very little if any energy absorbent foam on their bottoms, some received painful back injuries. Hopefully, with the additional protection, that won’t be an issue. Briscoe also mentioned that the drivers are still adapting to the hand clutch on the new chassis, although he likes the pedal layout and foot box of the new car, designed with left-foot braking drivers in mind.

When asked if he had a favorite number, he said it made no difference for him that Penske has switched from No. 6 to No. 2 this year for him. He added, it’s the team’s choice, that he has no say in it. Back in Europe when he raced for Prema Powerteam in European Formula Three, he raced chassis No. 8, car was numbered No. 8, and won eight races enroute to winning the championship. Thus he does have a soft spot for the number eight.

He loves racing at the Milwaukee Mile, where he won his first IndyCar race in 2008. He expects a large contingent of family for the June 16th event. He said turn two has a tricky apex, but opens up as you exit. “You can run high and low coming out of two, but you can’t in (turns) three and four.” He explained with the multiple grooves in turns one and two that the marbles (tire wear debris) are not much of a problem, but in turn four because of the one optimum groove the marbles can be worrisome.

In addition to open wheel cars, Briscoe also raced occasionally for the Holden (Australian GM) team in the V-8 Supercar Series usually after the conclusion of the IndyCar schedule. What are Australian Supercars? It’s a road racing series for a full-bodied sedan, their version of “NASCAR” if you wish. He enjoys that style of racing as well as the 24 Hours of Daytona Grand-Am road race in which he was able to participate.

Briscoe has also raced in the American LeMans Series for Penske’s former Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 program. Briscoe won three races, a pole and was on the podium nine times in 12 races enroute to finishing third in the ALMS championship in 2007.

Briscoe is married to ESPN NASCAR Countdown host and Wisconsin-native, Nicole Briscoe. He’s come a long way from the driver whose spectacular crash at Chicagoland Speedway in 2005 that was seen in national newspapers and all over the internet. He’s hungry for win number two on the historic Milwaukee Mile.

On Saturday May 12th please tune-in to Sparky’s Final Inspection on SportsRadio1250 at Noon, and listen to Matt Regashus and myself interview Ryan Briscoe. Also it will available on the internet after the show on

Tickets are on sale now for both days of the Milwaukee IndyFest, June 15 and 16. Friday infield general admission tickets begin at $17.50 for adults (Grandstand seating is free that day to watch practice and qualifying). Tickets for Saturday’s race and concert begin at $17.50 for infield general admission and $26 for reserved seating. The infield activities both days include the IndyFest Fan Village, Family Fun Zone, the Snake Pit (age-restricted access) as well as the concert activities.

For tickets and event information go to You can also order tickets by phone at 414-266-7100 or at the Wisconsin State Fair Park box office. (Box office hours are 10 am – 4 pm, weekdays).

The Stars of IndyCar: The Milwaukee IndyFest 225 will be televised by ABC-TV to a worldwide audience Saturday afternoon, June 16. The race will feature all of the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, including current series points leader Helio Castroneves, and past Milwaukee Mile winners such as Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan.

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