THERE must be something special in the waters of Western Australia.
It has produced Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo and now another young Perthling is making his mark in the world of motor racing – 22-year-old Anthony Martin.
He has just completed a test drive with Andretti Autosport in an IndyLights car and, with luck, could be in the respected team’s four-car line-up for the 2018 season.
Like Ricciardo and many other racing aces, the tall, modest Martin started in karts in 2008 and within a few years took the State and then National Australian titles.
More than a top driver, his sporting talents include cricket and soccer.
In fact, he was once offered a US scholarship to develop his soccer skills, but politely declined because he knew his future was in the cockpit of a single-seat race car.
With many karting titles to his credit, Martin moved on to Formula Ford – and won the State title and Rookie of the Year in his debut season.
He has since set his sights on Indycars via Mazda Road to Indy, a three-step driver development program, providing a scholarship-funded path to the Verizon IndyCar Series, including the fabled Indianapolis 500.
But it’s an expensive business and the scholarship part only applies to the winner of each of the three categories that precede the ultimate Indycars.
With help from his parents and Kalgoorlie businessman Paul Burgess, the young racing driver joined the program in 2015 in the USF2000 class, won it in 2016 and used the scholarship to move up to the next tier – Pro-Mazda.
There he and Brazilian Victor Franzoni had a tremendous tussle throughout the year, trading wins at the various circuits, with Martin finishing as runner-up in a controversial final.
However, Andretti Autosport scouts had noted his talent and invited him to test with the team at Indianapolis.
The team has so far won four IndyCar Series championships, two Indy Lights titles, one Pro Mazda championship, one USF2000 championship and has won the famed Indianapolis 500 four times.
It was a massive jump for Martin from the 195kW Pro Mazda to the 338kW Indy Light car, but he quickly adapted to the extra power and handling of the Dallara-chassised car.
“The braking power was insane,” Martin said.
“The distance the car can stop in when at full speed (330km/h) is incredible and takes some getting used to.
“The weekend of testing was about me getting used to the car and testing the limits and responses, so I learnt a lot in the two days.”
There could be more tests in coming weeks.
Martin is meanwhile having talks with potential backers to help him through IndyLights 2018.
Also under the Andretti racing umbrella is its Formula E program, competing in the FIA Formula-E Championship.
It could be the future of Formula 1 and another door waiting to be opened for Australia’s racing ace.
Pix show Anthony Martin and shots a his testing session with the Andretti Autosport Indylights car.