18-year-old using 2023 to prep for INDYCAR while sharing Legion’s suicide-prevention efforts
Eighteen-year-old Kyffin Simpson is one of the new faces with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) this year. The Cayman Islands native began racing at age 9 and won the 2021 Formula Regional Americas Championship, taking first in seven of the series’ races.
Kyffin was signed to a multi-year development role with Chip Ganassi Racing, and his No. 21 HMD Motorsports Indy Lights team receives driver mentorship, race strategy and engineering support from CGR through their Road to Indy program. He’ll compete in the Indy NXT Series.
Prior to the season, Simpson spoke with American Legion Social Media Manager Steven B. Brooks about his inaugural season with CGR and representing The American Legion’s “Be the One” suicide-prevention initiative branding that will be featuring on his car at times this season.
The American Legion: What does this opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing mean to you?
Simpson: It’s huge. I get to work with all of them, and have gotten to work with all their engineers and drivers and learn from all of them. It’s been great so far, and I think it will be great into the future as well. It’s great to work with Chip. It’s great to learn from him and from all of his staff. I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity.
Question: What kind of goals have you set for yourself, being with the team for the first year? What are you looking for from yourself and as a contributor to the team?
Simpson: This year I’m focused on my racing model for the NXT Series and my (Le Mans Prototype 2) stuff that I’ll be doing as well. So, I’m making sure I’m going to be as good as I can be in all of those. When I’m with the team, I’m focused on learning what I can for INDYCAR for when I’m there eventually: learning strategy and learning the rules that may be different or may not be different, and just making sure that I’m as prepared for INDYCAR as possible.
Question: You have some pretty good brains to go to – obviously not just Chip, but also the drivers. What’s it like having those guys around and being able to pick their brains and talk to them a little bit, and do you think that will be a valuable resource as the season gets underway?
Simpson: Yeah, for sure. It’s an invaluable resource. I think it’s been eight months or so (since signing with CGR), and I already did my INDYCAR test. And I think that everything that I’ve been working with them on has prepared me well for when I did that test, and I think it definitely helped me out when I first got in the car.
Question: When you learned about what “Be the One” means and the mission behind it, how do you feel about being able to be a part of spreading that message and trying to stem the tide of veteran suicides?
Simpson: I think it’s incredibly important. I think it’s always a shame when anyone takes their life, but even more so when you hear the stories of these great veterans who have gone overseas and fought for our freedom, and when they come back and they’re struggling with suicide, it’s a tough topic and it’s a tough situation. So, it’s great to be able to help in however small of a way or big of a way possible.
Question: What will it mean for you when you’re out there racing, that The American Legion branding is on your car and you’re representing men and women who at one time made the decision to halt their lives and put on the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces?
Simpson: It means everything. They sacrificed a big part of their lives to go fight for our freedom. It’s not something I could even fathom doing. So, it’s just huge respect for anyone who decides to help out in the military in any way. It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot of people you’re representing, and it’s really awesome I can help.”