ST. PETERSBURG - One would assume that a driver of world-class Indy cars would be tooling around town in a high-priced exotic, say a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche.
But that is not the case for race car driver Martin Plowman, a new resident of the Old Northeast neighborhood.
“My current car is very tame, actually…I’m embarrassed to say, it’s a Ford Fusion,” Plowman said recently during a break in training in Indianapolis.
“I came to learn that I’d much prefer to go with something that’s cheap and reliable, and most importantly is going to keep my life safe.”
An interesting statement from someone who’s chosen profession is anything but safe.
Plowman, a 23-year-old United Kingdom native, has been racing competitively since the age of eight. He started with go-karts and steadily transitioned to various European racing series before eventually landing a spot in the Indy Lights Series in 2009.
He currently drives for Panther Racing in the Indy Lights series, which is one step below the Izod Indy Racing League, but is hopeful he will get the call up to the main circuit soon.
After living in Indianapolis for the past two years, Plowman and his girlfriend/marketing manager, Nicole Pollard, decided to relocate to sunny St. Petersburg to “get somewhere warmer.”
After arriving for a visit, he fell in love with the area.
“I love the area around Vinoy Park. Part of my training calls for a lot of cardio work, and I love riding my bike,” he says.
Although he became a Colts fan while living in Indy and plans to remain one, he is ready to embrace another local team in his new hometown.
“I’m definitely going to become a Rays fan, that’s for sure,” he admits.
In other words, he’s almost an official transplant.
When asked about the inevitable comparisons to Dan Wheldon, another young British Indy car driver who relocated to St. Pete and went on to win the Indy 500 and the Honda Grand Prix in 2005, Plowman reveals he wouldn’t be where he is today without help from his fellow countryman.
“Dan’s been a great help to me, and he’s one of the main reasons why I came over to America,” Plowman says. “When Dan moved to Panther's (IRL Team) in ’09, there was opportunity to race in Panther’s Indy Lights team, so Dan helped bring me over…and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Plowman is hopeful that like Wheldon, he will get the call to move up from Indy Lights to the IRL circuit and go on to great success.
But whether he competes in the race before the main event or in the actual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg itself this weekend, Plowman knows he is going to enjoy the experience.
“I think it’s going to be a special moment, no matter what.”