Professional racing: Butler grad Carpenter earns spot in IndyCar

Photo courtesy of MCT

While it is difficult to know what each Butler graduate is doing with his or her life at this moment, it is unlikely that many are pursuing a career like that of 2003 graduate Ed Carpenter.

As some car racing fans likely know, Carpenter competes in the IndyCar Series.

In the series, 31-year-old Carpenter has the opportunity to qualify for and compete in multiple races each year, including the Indianapolis 500.

The 96th running of the Indy 500 will take place May 27, with Carpenter looking to improve on his 11th-place finish in the race last year.

While Carpenter did eventually end up on one of racing’s biggest stages—he qualified for the Indy 500 for the first time in 2004—he said he got his start racing quarter midgets at eight years of age.

“[My father] asked my brother and I if we wanted to run the quarter midgets,” Carpenter said. “We were both really excited about the opportunity and just never looked back.”

Not too long after, Carpenter said he made the decision to pursue a career in racing.

This choice was not something that every member of Carpenter’s family approved of though.

“I think my mom would’ve preferred I do something else,” Carpenter said. “When she realized I wasn’t going to be getting money doing anything else, she was always supportive.”

Carpenter’s parents said that as long as he was racing with their cars, he would have to go to college.

Carpenter said he ended up choosing Butler over the likes of Indiana, Indiana State and Denver State because he liked the school and its location.

Because Carpenter continued to race cars as a student, he said his passion for racing never waned despite being a part of Butler’s College of Business.

Richard Fetter, an associate marketing professor, is one member of the Butler faculty with whom Carpenter said he has kept in touch.

Fetter was the dean of the College of Business while Carpenter was a student and said the two were introduced through a mutual friend.

“Ed is such a good guy,” Fetter said. “He’s a high-quality person, and it’s been fun to watch him grow and develop.”

Michael Kaltenmark, 2002 graduate and director of web marketing communications, said he did not cross paths with Carpenter often as a student, but he vouched for Kaltenmark when Vision Racing—the racing team of which Carpenter was a member of from 2005 to 2009—was looking for public relations help.

Kaltenmark said that Carpenter has many qualities that helped him become a race car driver.

“He has a very level head, he’s responsible and he’s intelligent,” Kaltenmark said. “There’s a reason owners don’t have a problem giving Ed the keys.”

Photo courtesy of MCT

Carpenter said that persistence and the ability to network are two key needs for all race car drivers.

Putting his persistence on display, Carpenter broke into the IndyCar Series shortly after graduating from Butler.

His first race was at Chicagoland Speedway in 2003 for PDM Racing. He took 13th place while also competing in an Indy Lights Series race for A.J. Foyt Enterprises the same weekend.

“It was a very rewarding feeling, feeling like I had made it to where I was trying to get all my career,” Carpenter said.

Since that race, Carpenter has competed in the IndyCar Series each year, although he has driven for five different teams in the process.

Last year, Carpenter succeeded in winning an IndyCar race, taking first place in the Kentucky Indy 300 for Sarah Fisher Racing.

“It was only a matter of time,” Kaltenmark said. “He’s consistent and smooth—especially on ovals—so when that race happened, it was like it finally all came together for him.”

Carpenter called the victory “a relief” and “rewarding.”

Since then, Carpenter has become the owner of his own racing stable, Ed Carpenter Racing.

Carpenter said that while he is not sure when he may retire from professional racing, the formation of Ed Carpenter Racing is already preparing him for his career after racing.

“It’s more of a long-term plan,” Carpenter said. “Hopefully we’ll have partners involved with the team and can foster relationships that will allow us to be successful.”

Carpenter said his time at Butler assisted him in becoming both a professional driver and the owner of a racing group.

“[Going to Butler] helped me to be prepared for anything in life, whether it’s driving or running a business,” Carpenter said. “I think you have to be able to collect your thoughts, manage your time and have your attention focused on multiple different places, and those kinds of things were drilled into us in the business school.”

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