Tony Kanaan reflects on his racing career ahead of his Indy 500 finale

The 107th working of the Indianapolis 500 can be each particular and memorable for Tony Kanaan. Not solely will or not it’s his twenty second 500, however it’s going to even be the final race of his profession.

At 48, Kanaan by no means gave a lot thought to when the checkered flag would fly on his profession. Since his debut with the NTT IndyCar Collection in 1998, the love of the game and the fun of competitors has all the time fueled him for 1 / 4 of a century.

“I like what I do,” Kanaan shared M&F. “I by no means mentioned I needed to run to be wealthy or well-known. I adore it, love what I do, and if I can nonetheless do it, why not? Do I’ve something to show? No. There’s nothing left to show. Retirement can be a giant adjustment as a result of I am not the identical man I used to be 30 years in the past. I’ve received 4 youngsters now, married, and I do not know learn how to reside my life any otherwise.”

To have the ability to go away any skilled sport in your phrases whereas being celebrated is a privilege few can get pleasure from. Forward of his remaining Indy 500 this Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, TK shared his perception into how he has been in a position to compete at such a excessive degree for so long as he has. He additionally shared what he is trying ahead to in retirement and his recommendation for the subsequent technology.

Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan continues to coach for on-track dominance

I all the time tried to study as a lot as I may. Clearly, not all the things I did was helpful, however I attempt to not comply with traits. I attempt to comply with individuals with the identical drive as me. It is figuring out your physique and figuring out what works for you as a result of your weight loss program will not work for me and vice versa. I can not pinpoint one factor, however one factor that has all the time been on my thoughts is to get up and do one thing.

You want to be extra particular in case you are knowledgeable athlete as a result of it’s essential to work in your neck and shoulders. I’ve discovered that you probably have good steerage and coach, you do not have to do the traditional issues. For instance, earlier than we had the neck machines, I used to observe TV mendacity on my facet and maintain my neck up for half-hour on either side. It is a exercise since you’re holding your neck and attempting to withstand gravity. That was years in the past, however even nonetheless at the moment, if I am in a lodge for 4 to 5 days and I haven’t got the instruments, I am going to do it in a lodge mattress. Through the years I’ve found that doing what’s comfy for you as a result of something that’s compelled, you’ll not need to do it and ultimately you’ll surrender. I’ve additionally labored quite a bit with the ideas. My exercise routine is extra about preserving my thoughts at peace greater than the rest. Making an attempt to coach myself on what I would like and what my objectives are so far as with the ability to drive the race automobile. then self-pleasure – like I need to look good – after which discover train that I get pleasure from doing. I get up at 04.30 daily and prepare. Am I having fun with it? No. But when I do not begin it, that is a day I’ve misplaced when it comes to figuring out.

At all times consider one thing else, somebody to beat. I’ve my teammates. [Alexander] Rossi trains with me daily within the gymnasium and also you need somebody to assist elevate your bar and also you assist elevate theirs. It isn’t a contest, however all of us want challenges. If it turns into too simple, it turns into human nature to turn into lazy and never put within the effort required to attain good points. My coaching routine has all the time been targeted on my driving. I might concentrate on who I used to be going to beat or a race I used to be going to win. I additionally take nice delight in ending a race and I see a few of my rivals utterly drained whereas I am able to do one other. It’s a reward and a profit. I’m 48 and determined to name my final this 12 months however may I drive one other 10 years? Undoubtedly 5. You do not see individuals in skilled sports activities that final till their late 40s. This isn’t widespread.


I’ve had a couple of accidents. I’ve had three concussions from main crashes. I’ve damaged my arm twice. I broke it the primary time in Detroit in 2000. I hit a person gap on the course. I hit it, the automobile took off and I hit the wall. The wheel got here in and broke my left arm in two locations. My elbow hit my ribs and I broke seven of them, received a concussion and was knocked out. I wakened within the hospital a day later and I had two plates and 17 screws in my arm. The very first thing I requested the physician was when can I drive once more. He mentioned for about 4 months. I used to be again for 4 weeks.

In 2003 I broke my wrist in the identical arm. It was three weeks earlier than the Indy 500. I broke my wrist on a Saturday, flew again to Indy on Sunday and had surgical procedure on Monday. I missed one of many practices and I raced and completed third with a carbon brace on. It isn’t a brag and I do not advocate individuals do it, however it’s simply how I am wired. Now we have the very best medical doctors in IndyCar and so they would not let me race if it wasn’t protected. I bear in mind on the time it prompted fairly a stir as a result of anybody who needed to return again from an harm shortly saved bothering my medical doctors. You attribute with the ability to come again sooner to the mindset, good medical individuals round you, taking dangers and having a physique that’s so wholesome that the restoration is way sooner.

In case you are in form, you’ll come again sooner. When you’re robust, you will not get damage as a lot in a race automobile. Give attention to the large issues, not simply getting robust – flexibility and being sensible along with your coaching. When you do not feel nicely otherwise you really feel a ache that you simply assume will endanger one thing, do not do it. If I really feel a pull or one thing in my leg, I am not going to run, however I’ll swim and see if it feels higher. Making an attempt to forestall injury exterior the automobile is one factor. As soon as we’re in, we will not stop when one thing occurs.

Tony Kanaan outdoor trail running
Donald Miralle


Identical to figuring out, you need to continually change since you get uninterested in the identical factor. When you do biceps daily, ultimately it will not do you any good. I wish to really feel the ache and I’ve modified my routine each quarter. Biking and working will stay the identical, however I’ll change the way in which I do my workouts, intervals and brief and lengthy rides. I’ve to continually adapt as a result of I would like that motivation. If it is the identical factor again and again, my thoughts will not let me do it with the identical depth. I am all the time on the lookout for new issues and difficult my coaches on what we may do otherwise. I attempt to problem each new concept or coaching, the brand new coaching drinks and strategies.


My dad died on a Thursday night time and I used to be alleged to race that weekend. I ended up successful that race. That was a giant one for me. Thank God I’ve by no means suffered from anxiousness or despair. I believe that is why I can hold difficult myself continually. Like regular individuals, I went by way of a tricky divorce a very long time in the past. I needed to nonetheless race and I went by way of a few these races with out with the ability to sleep the night time earlier than since you guys are arguing and worrying about different life points. I’m fortunately married now and have been for 15 years.

Though individuals think about us to be very robust and profitable, we’ve the identical struggles as everybody else. The distinction is that I can not get up and inform my boss that I do not assume I can drive at the moment as a result of I do not really feel nicely. It is one thing that has been good and dangerous for me as a result of I’ve lived my life prioritizing my profession on a regular basis. Now that I’ve a giant household and a spouse, it is one thing that she places me in test rather a lot. You’ll be able to turn into egocentric even in the event you do not need to. Every thing revolves round you and all the things is for you as a result of you’re the focal point. We’re all human so you may get used to it and it’ll turn into your regular. The largest wrestle has all the time been preserving myself in test if I’m too egocentric, which I’m. I am extraordinarily egocentric as a result of I am a product of my profession and I’ve labored actually exhausting to attempt to steadiness that. I’m going to remedy twice every week for it.

Tony Kanaan performs dips
Tony Kanaan


Retiring from IndyCar is one factor. I am not fairly retired. I nonetheless race in two completely different sequence — one in Brazil and one right here. The IndyCar chapter of my life is coming to an finish. I’m extraordinarily enthusiastic about this new mission, working with Arrow McLaren to be a part of the staff to assist my teammates – I believe I can contribute quite a bit with my expertise on the technical facet. I nonetheless drive and I benefit from the issues on the surface of the automobile. A number of the stress is off me and it is a new stress. I by no means thought I used to be exterior driving the automobile, which was naive of me as a result of it all the time finally ends up ultimately.

Since becoming a member of this staff, I’ve met so many wonderful individuals. I’ve been round for a very long time and I’ve recognized many individuals. Arrow McLaren remains to be a reasonably new staff. We simply clicked with the individuals, the way in which we work, the mentality and we’ve so many issues in widespread. It is no completely different than a relationship. You need to have issues in widespread to have the ability to date or have a friendship. I’m trying ahead to changing into a part of the staff. They make me really feel like a part of the staff exterior of the automobile. At this level, I am targeted on giving them a win within the 500. That is my remaining aim as an IndyCar driver. After that, you simply must contribute to the staff’s success.


I’ve a 15 12 months outdated who has a whole lot of questions now. Once I misplaced my father, I used to be eight years outdated, and I made up my thoughts that I needed to be a racing driver. It doesn’t matter what, how exhausting it was, that is what I needed to do. My greatest piece of recommendation is whenever you get up, ask your self how badly you actually need it. The best factor to do is to surrender or not. Anybody can try this. You could have already answered none in the event you do not ask or go for it, the no is already there. Go for sure.

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