With 27 race wins, 16 pole positions and two NTT INDYCAR SERIES titles, few could argue against Josef Newgarden being one of motorsport’s best drivers.
And now, he’s the 2023 Indianapolis 500 champion. He dived straight into the crowd after the race in a unique celebration to get closer to the fans.
“To win this race is indescribable,” he said. “I think being at this event is indescribable.
“Someone has to come and see it and be a part of it to understand what it is really all about, and I’ve always wanted the honor to win this race because I wanted to go in the crowd if it was ever possible because I know what the energy is like here in Indianapolis.
“So to me, it was an unbelievable finish to be able to be here with the team and do that.”
Over the last 12 months, the Nashville driver’s personality has really come to the fore as part of his strong relationship with Team Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin and their new YouTube show Bus Bros, which documents their weekend off the track and usually involves the pair dressing up in some unusual costumes…
As Newgarden has emerged more and more, Podium Life joined the fun driver to find out what he’s wearing, carrying and relying on from his weekend racing bag as his quest for a third title kicks off this weekend in St Petersburg, Florida.
This is a regular feature at Podium Life, so if there’s a competitor or motorsport personality you’d like us to interview, let us know!This feature originally ran on March 1, 2023and has been re-posted after his 500 win.
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
My Apple products are essential. I gotta have everything on Apple, and everything is stored on iCloud for me.
All my notes, everything is on my Apple devices. It’s not like ‘notepad and pen’ like it used to be 40 years ago, you’ve got to have one of these digital devices to sort of like exist in this world.
The AirPods, I actually just got those AirPod Maxes. I haven’t rocked overhead headphones in a very long time but the Maxes are really really great! So I hate to be like an Apple commercial right now but I’m a fanboy.
I’m going to feel pretty rough if I don’t have my AirPods on an airplane. Just because I live on an airplane and without having a streaming show or music at my disposal for all these flights, I would feel very lost.
What are you watching at the moment?
I like on Netflix that you can download everything. So I love sports docs, I’ve been watching Swing, and then I’ve just started getting into Vikings: Valhalla, I’m 50% Danish so it’s really cool.
Is there anything superstitious you have in your bag with you?
I’m not superstitious at all. I don’t like to be superstitious. Actually, if anyone tells me there’s something unlucky, I ask them to bring it or wear it. Like my wife, she has a pendant from each of my championships, it’s really cool.
If you win a championship, you get the ring, and my wife can get like a pendant that she has around her neck just to have a little memento.
The second one, the 2019 championship, she says whenever she wears it, I have a horrendous race. And I’m telling her now, I said wear it to every frickin’ race you go to, I don’t care.
There’s gonna be a race when now you’re wearing it and something goes really good and it’s not going to be unlucky anymore. So I’m totally not superstitious. I try not to be beholding to any pattern or process or item or ingredient.
Is there anything you carry for food, nutrition or recovery?
Well, I got a new programme now. I never used to live in a bus at the track and McLaughlin changed my world in that way. He got a bus last year and so did I. It’s so nice to have a home away from home.
It means at the track, I can have these things that I used to not be able to. I love having a coffee machine, I have a Breville Touch, which is a pretty robust espresso machine. But still, like small enough to be able to have on the bus and make coffee every day, which is really nice. I love a little cortado or a little iced latte. So that’s very critical to my mornings.
And then I have a Hyperice Hypervolt. It’s a little gun that I use for just loosening up especially your hip flexors and stuff. For me, my hip flexors get so tight because of the position that you’re in, in the car. That gun is like amazing for getting you loose before getting in the car.
You can have a foam roller as well, I have a little mini foam roller so those items are super nice to have if accessible. I wouldn’t normally bring those if I didn’t have a bus but now that I have a bus I can just have this stuff in there and it’s way simpler to get ready to get in the car.
It sounds like you should have said your bus was the one thing you can’t live without! What is it?
I’m an Oakley guy, so I always have a pair of Oakleys with me, I have some in the bus, I have some in my bag, I always have multiple pairs. I wear the Pitchman R, the model type is my favourite that they make, just for the size and fit.
Most of the time when we’re racing, it’s sunny so it’s nice to have some shades. It’s also nice to be able to look at things on pitlane and maybe not have people fully seeing where your eyes are at! So you can mean mug people and you can check cars out and look at certain things without anyone getting on your case.
Are you quite particular on your helmet, race suit and gloves too?
I’ve been a Bell guy ever since I started in IndyCar, and I’ve had their support. Their customisation has come very far. And they’re really good about customising fit to the driver.
The insert of a Bell helmet nowadays is laser scanned, so they have a pretty detailed copy of how our face is going to fit into the helmet and they’re really good at just adjusting. Being there on demand, always at the track, they’re always there to improve and make an adjustment if you need it. So Bell helmets is really critical to me.
We work with Puma, and so they supply all our team wear stuff, whether it’s our team kit, suit, gloves or shoes, and they’ve been really great.
I think the the fit of the suit is really important and kind of particular to everybody. Some people like it looser, some people like it really tight. They’re bespoke 100% down to details like where you want a stretch panel, where you don’t, where you want a pocket, where you don’t.
Shoes I find to be really important. You want to be as comfy as you can be but also have the support exactly where you need it on your shoes. You need to use a lot of force in INDYCAR, particularly the brake pedal, it’s at least an hour and a half and sometimes three plus if you’re looking at the Indy 500.
So your fit and support and finish of your shoes and your gloves is really critical and Puma’s been really good at dialling that in for us.
Apparently we have to ask you about cereal for some reason…
I love cereal. For me, it’s a great snack. That’s my dessert. I love to buy really bad cereal like super sugary cereal and that’s my bad snack or dessert for the day. Fruity Pebbles, I’ll be crushing Fruity Pebbles at night.
I’m very particular about my diet and my nutrition, and then it just all goes out the window on a race weekend. People are like, ‘Oh, you gotta be like so dialled and regimented’.
At home, I’m super regimented. And then I get to the track and it’s just, like don’t even care as long as I’m hydrated, my food is whatever.
I’m eating candy, Twix bars, Trolli Worms and then Fruity Pebbles. It’s just the worst diet possible and I feel like it’s comfort food, like when you go to the track you just want to feel good because it’s a stressful environment. So diet goes out the window at the race track.
We’ve asked about what’s in your bag, but what brand is your actual bag?
I rock a Tumi backpack. Their stuff is expensive, I’m not sponsored by them whatsoever, not part of team McLaren.
I love Tumi gear though. My backpack I think I’ve had eight years now and still looks great, going strong. Same thing with my bag. They’re expensive upfront but they last really well.
You’re traveling over 100 flights a year and these things are taking a beating. I’ve never had to replace a wheel or anything like that. I would be an amazing brand ambassador if Tumi wanted to pick me up because I would sell.