Catching Up With Christian Rasmussen
 March 25, 2020| 
  • Series News
Rasmussen Feature March 2020

Like the rest of his fellow Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship competitors, Christian Rasmussen anxiously awaits the start of the 2020 Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season. The 19-year-old Copenhagen, Denmark native now fills his time maintaining his fitness level, playing football with his brother and plenty of sim time.

RTI_PDX_082019_R1_B_7519-LRasmussen finished third in the 2019 final standings and with the top three moving up the ladder to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, he took over the mantel of pre-season favorite. But the international COVID-19 crisis shut down the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race weekend after only one practice session (led by Brazilian Eduardo Barrichello, with Rasmussen second), leaving the young Dane to make his way home, albeit to a very different reality.

“I had no problem getting home from St. Pete,” said Rasmussen. “I changed my flight to a day earlier and went straight home. The flight didn’t feel any different from normal, the only difference was extra checks at passport control for foreigners coming in. We have quite a few cases at home (1577 as of 24 March). I am staying at home so I can help stop the spread. The Danish government is working to keep people inside, closing non-essential businesses.

“I’m just doing anything I can do at home, like running, cycling, strength work – and playing football with my brother in the backyard. We’re doing whatever we can to stay fit. And I’m fortunate that I have a sim at home so I’ll spend as many hours there as I can to keep the dust off. Once we know what our first race will be, I’ll focus on that but until then I’ll work on all the tracks we race at. It’s more about staying in the rhythm of driving – and the online races help that as well.”

After initially arriving in the U.S. in 2018 to run with Jay Howard Driver Development’s US F4 Championship Powered by Honda team, Rasmussen moved up to USF2000 with JHDD last season. He finished fourth in the season-opener in St. Petersburg and fought series veteran Darren Keane for the lead in Race Two until Keane lost control at the final corner and the unfortunate Rasmussen was left with nowhere to go. Both were out of the race.

RTI_Laguna_092019_test_5910The team struggled for pace until mid-season, when everything began to come together. Rasmussen scored seven podiums in the final eight races, including three victories, establishing his reputation as a front runner going into 2020 – though his expectations for the new season remain the same.

“My mindset is completely unchanged from last year – I was going for the title last year even though I was a rookie. Some things got in the way of that, but we’ve progressed as a team and we’ve both gotten better. My plan is to win races and the championship and with the momentum and data from last year, we’re ready to take on the competition.

“The whole team – me, Jay, the mechanics, the other drivers – have developed such a strong bond and we work so well together. Jay works so hard to put everything together and I really enjoy working with him. I just want to get back to racing!”

RTI_CG_102019_G_4325Rasmussen, Wyatt Brichacek and Christian Bogle were teammates on Howard’s US F4 in 2018, with Bogle and Rasmussen moving up to the USF2000 squad last season. The trio are reunited this season, with 15-year-old Californian Nolan Siegel joining the team. The drivers bonded quickly during testing and the series’ pre-season Spring Training at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month – complete with matching flamingo-print outfits.

IMG_20200323_124823“Nolan is new to the team, but we’ve had a lot of fun during our tests. Like the flamingo outfits – I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time in Florida, so I brought my flamingo shirt. Christian Bogle’s mom Christa saw it and thought it was funny, so she bought us all matching flamingo shorts that we could wear down in the Keys in between Spring Training and St. Pete. So all four of us had the shorts and while we were in Key West, we saw flamingo shirts so we all bought matching shirts.

“I’ve known Wyatt and Christian for a few years – when I’m in the U.S. for a longer period, I stay with the Bogles and have gotten to know them well. I appreciate them for taking me in as part of their family when I’m back home – see, I almost think of it as home for me! It’s a strong bond. They took me to Mardi Gras this year, and I got the whole Louisiana experience (ed. note: the Bogles live outside New Orleans). We have a lot of street parties in Denmark, but not the parades so that was so fun. But it’s usually the gym, working out and preparing for the races.”

Rasmussen appreciates the well-established ladder system that the Road to Indy provides, but it’s the people that have made the greatest impact on the young racer – and the friendships he has gained. Even if it means some friends show up rather unexpectedly.

JHDD“You can always talk about how great the opportunity is here for young drivers, to go up through the Road to Indy ladder. We all know that story. But for me, I’ve really clicked with everybody in the series. I have a great relationship with Jay, obviously, and the drivers on our team. But I really get along with Matt Round-Garrido as well, he was on our team for a while last year. I also get on with the Pabst guys – I get along with everybody. I really enjoy the environment and the people.

“Matt and I were chatting during the off season, and the next day, he just showed up at my house in Copenhagen, ready to have fun! That’s the kind of guy he is – impulsive. Guys like that keep things loose.”

Hoping that May will see the beginning of the 2020 season, Rasmussen will continue with his fitness regimen and sim training as best he can. But make no mistake: he’ll be ready when the season begins.

“It will feel like the start of the season, just delayed a little. I will stay ready, fit and in the mindset. I so look forward to getting back to racing. I get into the rhythm very quickly, that’s one of my strengths. If the other guys are snoozing, they’ll have a tough time keeping up!”

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