“I find a lot of joy in being a part of big moments with individuals and race teams and helping them accomplish something they are after,” Rodela said.
For Rodela, one of his peak moments was winning at IRP with Kyle Larson.
“I will tell children this story because it changed my life forever,” he said. “I kid you not. Kyle was so calm and levelheaded. We tested the morning before the race and he was running a little slow. When he pulled in, I asked how the car was and he said, ‘Don’t touch it. Right now, the car is faster than me. Let me come to the car.’ The next session was like somebody turned on a light. He was running pole speeds and it looked effortless.”
Rodela knows that winning at IRP is special and he knows firsthand how everything must fall into place to get the job done.
“People look at IRP and think it is just a standard pavement track,” he said. “So, how hard could it be? But I think about the Indy 500 and how it has eluded so many great drivers. All the trials and tribulations that go into that race. You go through qualifying and then you must be there at the end. On a smaller scale that is how IRP is.
“One cloud passes in front of the sun and it can screw your life up. That is why IRP is like the Indy 500. I had been trying for years and finally got the right package that the car needs,” Rodela noted. “It is blistering fast and there are only a select few who are worthy of winning there. Your stuff must be perfect. There is a huge difference between winning and finishing second.”
Rodella understands Bertrand’s motivation.
“I know how much he wants it and I would be happy if I was a small part of that,” Rodela said. “I know what it took for me to get a big win at IRP. There was the time I spent lying in bed thinking about it and then all the work fine-tuning the car.”
Swanson can see the possibilities.
“I am really excited,” he said. “I loved racing with Jerome and I have liked working with Tim. This is potentially a terrific opportunity to work with people I have called friends and who have a real passion for midget racing, especially midget racing at Indianapolis Raceway Park.”
This story appeared in the May 24, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.