Ryan Hunter-Reay is an American racing driver who competes in the premium American single-seater series (Champ Car and IndyCar) since 2003. His best results were the IndyCar Series championship title in 2012 and victory at 2014 Indianapolis 500.
Teenager Ryan was a successful kart racer
Ryan Hunter-Reay was born on December 17th, 1980. As many of his colleagues, Ryan started his racing career in the karting races. After winning six national championship titles, Ryan switched to single-seater cars in 1998, competing in two races of the Barber Dodge Pro Series with #28 Reynard 98E-Dodge.
Next year, Ryan won the 1999 Skip Barber Formula Dodge Eastern Series. In the shootout against other Formula Dodge drivers, he won the Skip Barber Big Scholarship and a $250,000 prize. He would use the scholarship money to enter the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000.
Best rookie in the Barber Dodge Pro Series
In the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series, Hunter-Reay participated in twelve races and finished fifth in the final standings. He was the best rookie and received the sponsorship from the series to compete one more season. In 2001, his overall result was the same as he again finished fifth, but he performed better and scored two victories in twelve races. Ryan has won at Lime Rock Park and at Exhibition Place.
One season in the CART development series
In 2002, Hunter-Reay entered the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, which was the main feeder series for the CART Champ Car Series. He was driving the #1 Swift 014a-Toyota for Hylton Motorsports. He scored the first win in the fourth round of the season, at Laguna Seca, after he qualified in the pole position and set the fastest lap time in the race. He recorded two more wins at Chicago Motor Speedway and at Burke Lakefront Airport. After twelve races, Hunter-Reay finished sixth in the championship classification.
Sebring debut with Ferrari
Except for the full season in the Atlantic Championship, Hunter-Reay participated in a single event of the American Le Mans Series, at 12 hours of Sebring in March 2002. He partnered Andrea Montermini and Peter Argetsinger in the JMB Racing's Ferrari 360 Modena, but they retired due to engine failure.
First Champ Car season with American Spirit Team Johansson
In 2003, Ryan Hunter-Reay stepped up to the CART Champ Car World Series. He was driving the #31 Reynard 02i (Cosworth) for the American Spirit Team Johansson, a team owned by the former F1 driver Stefan Johansson. In the thirteenth round of the season, the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Hunter-Reay finally reached the podium by finishing third. He scored his maiden Champ Car victory in the last round at the Surfers Paradise in Australia. After 18 races, he finished 14th in the standings.
2004 Champ Car season with Herdez Competition
Hunter-Reay changed the team in 2004 and he drove the #4 Lola B02/00-Cosworth for Herdez Competition. The season was shorter than previous with just 14 races, and Hunter-Reay finished ninth in the final classification, with one victory at the Milwaukee Mile. He totally dominated in that race, taking the pole position and leading for all 250 laps.
From Champ Car to the sports car racing
In 2005, Hunter-Reay had a third team in his third Champ Car season. He moved to Rocketsports Racing and participated in ten races. Without podiums and victories Ryan finished 15th in the championship order.
In 2006, Hunter-Reay left single-seaters and raced in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series with two different teams. He participated in three races with #17 SAMAX/Doncaster Racing's Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, sharing the car two times with Ian James and once with Mark Greenburg. His best result was third place finish in the GT class at Laguna Seca.
At the last round at Miller Motorsports Park, Ryan competed for SunTrust Racing in the Riley-Pontiac prototype, sharing the car with Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli. They finished 14th.
A1 Grand Prix adventure in New Zealand
On January 21st, 2007, Hunter-Reay was representing the United States Team in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at Taupo Motorsports Park in New Zealand. In the sprint race, he finished in 11th place. In the feature race, he started 11th and finished 10th, scoring one point for the team. It was his only event in the A1 Grand Prix.
Daytona 24h debut in 2007
A week later, Ryan was again in America and he debuted in the 24 hours of Daytona. He was driving the #91 Riley MkXI alongside Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens and Jimmie Johnson. They started third, but retired after 560 laps due to an engine failure. Later in the season, Hunter-Reay drove the car in three other races of the Grand-Am Sports Car Series, winning the season-ending race at Miller Motorsports Park.
Rookie of the Year in the 2007 IndyCar Series season
During the season 2007, Hunter-Reay was in the cockpit of the #17 Honda-powered Dallara IR4 of Rahal Letterman Racing. He was the replacement for the released Jeff Simmons in the final six races of the season. Hunter-Reay had an IndyCar debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and finished seventh. In the next race, at Michigan International Speedway, he finished sixth and it remained his best result in the debuting season. Despite only six races, he won the Rookie of the Year award.
Maiden IndyCar win at Watkins Glens
The best rookies stayed one more season with Rahal Letterman Racing and finished 8th in the 2008 IndyCar Series final standings. He scored his first Indy victory in July at Watkins Glen. At his Indianapolis 500 debut, Ryan started 20th and finished 6th. Besides his main programme in the IndyCar Series, Hunter-Reay competed in two races of the Grand-Am Rolex Series, including Daytona 24h, driving the #91 Riley MkXX for Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews team. They finished 8th at Daytona.
Two teams in the 2009 IndyCar season
In the 2009 IndyCar Series season, Hunter-Reay competed with two teams. He started the season with a sensational second place in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, driving for Vision Racing. In next five races, results weren't good, including an early crash at Indianapolis 500.
After six races, Hunter-Reay and Vision Racing parted ways and he joined AJ Foyt Enterprises as a replacement for the injured Vitor Meira. Ryan's best result in the AJ Foyt's car was fourth place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At the end of the season, Hunter-Reay finished 15th in the points.
At the 2009 Daytona 4-hour race, Hunter-Reay was driving Riley MkXX for Michael Shank Racing. He was sharing the car with Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri and Colin Braun. They started from 10th place and retired after 262 laps because of electrical problems.
Hunter-Reay and Andretti started their partnership in 2010
The new chapter in his career was opened in 2010, when Hunter-Reay had joined Andretti Autosport to start a longstanding partnership which is still active. Hunter-Reay first agreed to drive a part-time schedule, but later the deal was expanded.
In the first race with Andretti's #37 car, on the streets of Sao Paulo, Ryan finished second. In the fourth round of the season, on the streets of Long Beach, Hunter-Reay gained his second IndyCar victory and first win with Andretti. At the Indianapolis 500, Hunter-Reay qualified in 17th place but crashed in the race. Later in the season, Ryan took the podium in Toronto and finished seventh in the final classification.
First podium at Daytona 24-hour race
Outside of IndyCar Series, Hunter-Reay scored his first podium at Daytona 24h, finishing third in the Riley MkXX (BMW) of Crown Royal/NPN Racing. He shared the podium and champagne with Scott Tucker, Lucas Luhr and Richard Westbrook.
Number 28 on Ryan's car since 2011
In 2011, Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport signed a deal for a full-time schedule. Ryan chose the number 28 on his car. The number was chosen as his support for the estimated 28 million people living with cancer worldwide. Ryan's mother died of cancer in 2009, and in the following years, he became the ambassador of the Racing for Cancer organization.
2011 Indy 500 in the AJ Foyt's car
In his second season with Andretti Autosport, Hunter-Reay again scored one victory (at New Hampshire Motor Speedway) and again finished seventh in the championship. At Indianapolis 500, Ryan failed to qualify but entered the race as a replacement for Bruno Junqueira in the #41 AJ Foyt's car. He finished 23rd, three laps behind the winner, Dan Wheldon.
Class victory at 2011 Sebring 12-hour race
At 2011 24 hours of Daytona race, Hunter-Reay was driving Riley MkXX (BMW) for Level 5 Motorsports, alongside Scott Tucker, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos. They finished in 11th place. Ryan later competed with Level 5 Motorsports at 12 hours of Sebring and took the LMP2 class victory driving the #055 Lola B11/43 (Honda).
Ryan Hunter Reay was the 2012 IndyCar Series champion
The 2012 IndyCar Series season was shortened to 15 races and Ryan Hunter-Reay triumphed four times. He was the winner at Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway, Toronto and Baltimore. With two more podiums, Ryan collected 468 points in fifteen races and became the champion with just a three points gap ahead of Will Power.
Three different teams in the sports car racing
In the sports car racing, Hunter-Reay participated in three races with three different teams. At Rolex 24 Daytona, he was driving the Riley MkXX (Ford) for Starworks Motorsports and he finished in 10th place. At 12 hours of Sebring, he competed and retired with Level 5 Motorsports' HPD ARX-03b. At Petit Le Mans, he drove the Viper GTS-R of SRT Motorsports and finished 20th.
Hunter-Reay had the offer to join Team Penske, but he re-signed with Andretti Autosport for two more seasons. After he won the 2012 championship title, he announced that he would use the number 1 on his car in 2013. His usual number 28 would appear inside of the 1.
Third place at 2013 Indianapolis 500
Hunter-Reay had a good opening of the season, with a victory in the second round at Grand Prix of Alabama. Later in the season, he won one more time at Milwaukee Mile and scored three more podiums to finish seventh in the championship. He scored his career best result at Indy 500, finishing in third place behind Tony Kanaan and Carlos Munoz.
Best career result at 2013 Rolex 24 Daytona
In January 2013, Hunter-Reay also scored his career best result at Rolex 24 Daytona, finishing second with Wayne Taylor Racing's Corvette DP. His co-drivers were Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor. Ryan was also on the podium at 12 hours of Sebring, finishing second in LMP2 class with Level 5 Motorsports.
Dramatic victory at 2014 Indianapolis 500
In the early phase of the 2014 season, again in the #28 car, Hunter-Reay won one more time at Alabama. In the next race, he finished second at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and then his triumph at Indianapolis 500 followed. He qualified at a disappointing 19th place, but during the race he quickly progressed and took the lead in the middle of the race. His main rival for the win was Helio Castroneves and Hunter-Reay won by 0.0600 seconds.
Two podium finishes in the 2014 American Le Mans Series
Besides IndyCar Series, Hunter-Reay participated in three races of the 2014 American Le Mans Series, driving the Viper GTS-R of the SRT Motorsports. He earned two podiums, finishing third in GTLM class at Daytona 24-hour race and at Petit Le Mans.
In 2015, his sixth season with Andretti Autosport, Ryan Hunter-Reay scored two victories in the late phase of the season, at Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway. He took second place in the season's finale at Sonoma and finished sixth in the championship standings for the second year in a row.
One more podium at Daytona endurance race in 2016
After a disappointing end at the 2015 Rolex 24 Daytona, with retirement in the Starworks Motorsport's prototype, Hunter-Reay again reached the podium at the 2016 edition of the biggest American endurance race.
Two winless season in the IndyCar Series
In the 2016 IndyCar Series, Hunter-Reay was racing again in the #28 Honda-powered Dallara DW12, alongside teammates Carlos Munoz (#26) and Marco Andretti (#27). With three podiums, he finished 12th in the points, what was his worst season's result since 2009.
In 2017, Hunter-Reay stayed in the #28 Honda for the fourth consecutive season. It was a winless season again. He was on a podium three times, finishing ninth in the final standings.