Veterans in INDYCAR: Keagan Baker
(Abel Motorsports photo)

Veterans in INDYCAR: Keagan Baker

Throughout the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, American Legion Social Media Manager Steven B. Brooks will be talking with veterans who work within the INDYCAR SERIES, whether for Chip Ganassi Racing, INDYCAR itself, or other racing teams, tracks or entities involved in the series.

This week we’re talking with U.S. Air Force veteran Keagan Baker, who for two months has worked as a front-end mechanic on Josh Mason’s No. 21 Abel Motorsports car in the INDY NXT series.

Baker – who served in the Air Force from 2020 to 2022 as an Aircraft Fuel Systems Mechanic at Eglin Air Force Base – talks about what led him to military service, what the experience has been like working in motorsports, and how he’s happy to see the veteran suicide issue receive attention throughout the INDYCAR SERIES.

Steven Brooks: What led you to joining the Air Force?

Keagan Baker: I really wanted to fly planes, but you have to go to school for a long time for that. So, the next best thing is to work on them.

Brooks: How did you go from working on planes to working on INDY NXT race cars, and what has that experience been like?

Baker: Man, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people. And it’s the best. It’s not too much different from working on jets. It’s just a lot smaller. They’re about the same, though. A race car is just an upside-down jet. It’s been pretty fun.

Brooks: What mindset or skill did you have to use in the Air Force that you’re able to continue using in civilian life?

Baker: The teamwork aspect, definitely. It translates over pretty good. We all here together a lot and are with each other 24/7, which is pretty much how it was in the Air Force, too. That translated pretty easy.

Brooks: The American Legion, through its sponsorship deal with Chip Ganassi Racing, has been able to promote its Be the One veteran suicide prevention mission, and that promotion has been elevated by INDYCAR. As a veteran, what does it mean to you to see that issue being brought to millions of race fans?

Baker: I think it’s a great thing. I have lost some friends to that, so I think it’s good that it’s getting out there and getting noticed, and people are really paying attention to it now.