The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

From Trees Hall to Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Pitt alum Colin Kaminsky looks to make a name for himself in IndyCar

Colin+Kaminsky+races+on+a+track.
Courtesy of Colin Kaminsky
Colin Kaminsky races on a track.

Zooming down the track at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour, professional race car drivers risk life and limb in pursuit of their dreams. Considering all the perceived glitz and glimmer that comes with the profession, it’s easy to forget that these individuals are only human, trying to make it in a highly competitive field. 

One of these individuals is Pitt alum Colin Kaminsky. The 2021 graduate recently made the jump to the IndyNXT series — an official development league of IndyCar. This summer, in his first season with IndyNXT, Kaminsky ranked 16th out of 25 drivers while representing Abel Motorsports.

Kaminsky, who graduated from Pitt with a degree in marketing, said his path to professional racing began with his father. 

“I got into racing when my dad started doing it,” Kaminsky said. “He used to run a team, and we had leftover cars. So one day after high school, just for fun, we took the cars out at our local track in Chicago. Just kind of putts around in a race car for the first time, and that’s kind of how it took off.”

Colin Kaminsky poses for a photo. (Courtesy of Colin Kaminsky)

Prior to his career in IndyNXT, Kaminsky competed in both the USF2000 National Championship and Indy Pro 2000 Championship series — which are both lower developmental leagues for IndyCar. Still, Kaminsky said the jump between these two series and IndyNXT was massive, as the cars are much faster and harder to drive. 

“It was eye-opening,” Kaminsky said about his jump to IndyNXT. “[Lower formula series] teaches you the technique to work up, but once you get to that level, it’s just a whole different ball game.”

But the challenge and competition in the higher series is what fuels Kaminsky’s passion for the sport. Kaminsky said IndyNXT — which is the highest developmental series before IndyCar — is packed with talent, but the competition helps the Pitt alum improve his craft. 

“You’re just constantly up against the best,” Kaminsky said. “[IndyNXT] is such a hard series to do well, that when you have just an ounce of success, it means that much more. I think that’s a big driving factor for me. It’s a great field to prove yourself in terms of if you’re one of the best race car drivers in the world.”

While Kaminsky now drives some of the fastest cars in the world, there was a time when he used to roam the slow, traffic-infested streets of Oakland. The Chicago native transferred to Pitt in 2019 following a short stint at Trine University in Indiana. 

Even at Pitt, his mind remained focused on racing. Kaminsky said learning more about business and applying it to his racing career played a factor in his decision to come to Pitt. But more importantly, Kaminsky said college helped him learn how to network, which is a crucial skill in the racing world. 

“It forces you to be more social, network and that type of thing,” Kaminsky said about his college experience. “The business school would have all these events, and that was huge because I’m a shy kind of guy. I don’t really like to do that type of thing, so it kind of forced you into that. Then you really learn how important it is, especially in the racing world.”

Kaminsky even found ways to continue training for racing while at Pitt. In between running to class and studying for exams, Kaminsky utilized the resources at Pitt to further his racing career — mainly Trees Hall.

“I would work out at Trees [Hall],” Kaminsky said. “I think it had enough of what I needed to get done. You know, a big walk up the hill to get the legs warm on the way there because I lived down in central Oakland.”

Kaminsky has come a long way from waiting in line for squat racks at Trees Hall — but he’s not done yet. The Pitt alum hopes to continue racing full-time and eventually make the jump to the IndyCar series. Above all, Kaminsky hopes to one day compete in the Indy 500.

“I think even if I was just able to compete in the Indy 500, that’s a dream of mine,” Kaminsky said. “It would just be the most insane thing ever. So that’s goal number one for sure.”

While the road ahead is rough and the competition is fierce, Kaminsky’s passion is evident. From growing up watching his father race to getting on the track himself, Kaminsky remains committed to his dreams of competing in IndyCar.

“IndyCar and open-wheel racing is just nostalgic for me because my dad did it, and I grew up watching it,” Kaminsky said. “To me, that’s what a race car is, as opposed to the souped-up cars and stuff like that. But obviously, racing is racing, and I really would drive anything because it’s always fun. But the main focus is IndyCar racing.”

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor