Life in the fast lane isn’t just on the track for reigning Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson.
For the Carmel resident, it’s sometimes on his bicycle along the Monon Trail.
“I’m a big cyclist, so I use the Monon a lot to go north,” he said. “I ride up to Sheridan and back. It’s my normal thing I do a couple times a week when the weather is good.”
There are few IndyCar drivers that join him on bikes, such as fellow Carmel resident Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon.
“I have another group of friends who ride as well,” he said.
The 32-year-old Swede, who married Greek fashion model and influencer Iris Tritsaris Jondahl in April, feels at home in Carmel.
“I love it,” Ericsson said. “My first year in IndyCar I lived in downtown Indianapolis. I didn’t know the city when I came here. I really liked Carmel and really wanted to live there. I moved four years ago, and I’ve been there ever since. You can walk around, there are good restaurants, cafes and stuff.”
Ericsson is eager to aim for repeat performance in the Indy 500, set for May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It feels cool to come here as the defending champion,” he said.
Ericsson is third in the IndyCar series point standings with five top 10 finishes, including a victory March 5 in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished eighth May 13 in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis at IMS.
“We’ve been solid,” Ericsson said. “We had a bad day in Texas and (Alabama) and we were still in the Top 10. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. I feel stronger this year than last year. It’s super competitive.”
Ericsson spent five frustrating years in Formula One. He then finished 17th in the IndyCar Series points in 2019, driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He moved to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 with his best finish being fourth in the season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ericsson finished sixth in the point standings in 2021 and 2022.
“For me, all my career it’s been a long way to get where I am today,” Ericsson said. “I went through a lot of tough years. I went eight years without winning a race. My F1 years were very tough. I was on a team that wasn’t very competitive. It was tough mentally to push myself to keep working and believing in myself. In IndyCar, it took a few years to get up to speed and be competitive. I’ve dedicated my life to put myself in a position where I can win a big race. To win the biggest one of all was hard to put into words what that means.”
Ericsson said there have been many special moments, but the biggest was being able to bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to his hometown of Kumla in Sweden.
“(I) brought it out to the city square and pretty much got the whole city out on the streets to celebrate it,” Ericsson said. “That day and moment is going to be with me forever.”
Ericsson would like to remain with Chip Ganassi Racing beyond the 2023 season but has not received a contract offer for 2024 yet. Ericsson wants to be known as more than just a driver who brings sponsorship money with him.
“I want to be hired for my skills as a driver,” Ericsson said. “I think I deserve that.”
For the kids
Marcus Ericsson wore a helmet in the Grand Prix with four different paintings from children at Riley Hospital for Children.
“An NHL goalkeeper did something similar. We came up with this idea for Riley,” he said. “When we contacted them with the idea of doing artwork from kids on my helmet, they thought it was a great idea. I got some different paintings and sent them to my design team.
Ericsson is auctioning off the helmet after the race with all proceeds going to Riley. The bidding was set to close May 22.
“We picked the Grand Prix because it’s Indianapolis and the community here,” he said. “It’s also Mental Health Awareness month, which I think is an important subject for kids these days the way it is. I think it’s for a great cause and I hope it’s going to for a lot of money.”