The Baby Boss is making good on the family name, just in auto racing rather than baseball.
George Steinbrenner IV has a vastly different ownership style than his grandfather, the late Yankees owner. He’s not as outspoken, but the drive to win is there, same as The Boss. (George IV is the son of Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner.)
Make no mistake, though, the younger Steinbrenner is implementing valuable lessons he learned from growing up in the Yankee family.
“My grandfather was my first idol in the sports world. That’s the path I wanted to go down,” he said. “My passions are baseball and racing. [My family] has baseball covered already, so I figured I might as well branch out into my other passion."
“It’s all about the people. We have to make sure we have all the pieces in place, working from the top down. That’s what we’ve done with the Yankees. It’s the same mentality I’ve brought to racing.”
Steinbrenner, along with his rising star driver Colton Herta, is already a winner as the co-owner of an NTT IndyCar Series team.
Next up for the young duo is the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Herta didn’t just qualify in the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda, he did it in style. He’ll start in the middle of the second row for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Steinbrenner, 22, is the youngest owner in the series as he heads up Harding Steinbrenner Racing with co-owner Mike Harding. Herta, who recently turned 19, became the youngest winner in the sport’s history in March when he raced to victory in the INDYCAR Classic on March 24 in Austin, Texas. He took over the title of youngest winner by about three months, besting the feat by Graham Rahal in 2008.
It took Herta some time to process his accomplishment.
“It was great that I won, but it was also terrible. Now that’s all I want to do. I want that feeling again. It lit a fire in my stomach to go get another one,” Herta said. “It’s pretty special. It didn’t really hit me until a week after, or two weeks after.”
Like Steinbrenner, Herta is a legacy in his sport. His father Bryan won four races as a driver and two Indy 500 titles as an owner.
They met when Steinbrenner was working for Bryan Herta’s RallyCross team in 2016. They shared the same passion for the sport, and for winning.
Herta, who’ll race in his first Indy 500 on Sunday, said he wasn’t sure what to expect heading into qualifying. He and Steinbrenner knew they could start in the first few rows if everything went perfectly.
“It was a shock, to be honest … I didn’t think we were going to end up fifth. I think we’re looking really good coming into Sunday,” Herta said. ” Everybody’s getting in tune. Everybody is ready for racing.”
Herta is a native of Valencia, Calif. He said some of his earliest memories are going to Dodger games. That doesn’t mean, however, there’s a California-New York rivalry between Herta and Steinbrenner.
“I’m team Yankee now,” Herta said. “Even when they play [the Dodgers], I’ll be a Yankee fan. When I got hooked up with George, I became a Yankees fan.”
Even as he helms the racing team, Steinbrenner said he’s always watching the Yankees, sometimes on his phone if that’s his only option. He’s been impressed with the way the team has performed despite a lengthy list of players on the injured list.
“The way the team has performed [with all of the injuries], is a testament to that top-down mentality that I’ve tried to bring to this team,” Steinbrenner said.
Steinbrenner and Herta hope to lead the way in bringing fresh blood and exciting new faces to racing. One of their goals is to inspire the next generation of owners and drivers.