Before he was named by Momentum Motorsports as their 2023 driver in the Formula 4 United States Championship, Garrett Dettman spent 2022 working for Momentum as an intern. He sold parts, did maintenance, and helped work on the cars for the various open-wheel series in which they raced.
By Eddie Fuhrer
While this was happening, Momentum was taking a year away from F4 to work on its business model and focus on other projects as the team continued to grow and branch out.
The growth over the past few years at Momentum has come with major changes. The team relocated all the way from Montgomery, New York, to Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP) in Kershaw, South Carolina, giving them more opportunities to conveniently test their cars.
Team owner Phil Picard said that running in F4 in 2022 while moving to CMP did not make much sense for the team.
“Being trackside brings more diverse products to our doors,” Picard said. “Being involved in multiple series at that time took much time away from the development of the shop at CMP.”
Juggling engineering and racing
Despite not competing in F4 at the time, Dettman seized the opportunity to get hands-on experience with Momentum after receiving his degree as a general mechanic and repairer at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina.
“Everything they had in the shop, I got my hands on and tinkered with,” Dettman said.
While serving as an intern off the track, Dettman kept his dreams of racing alive despite being on a very limited budget. He got his hands on an old Formula Ford car and began racing in the Right Coast Formula F Series.
“I made a commitment to him that if he reached certain benchmarks in that series, I would do what I could to help him get into an F4 car,” Picard said.
Driving a 1976 Crossle 30F, Dettman achieved immediate success. He opened the season with a win at Mid-Ohio from ninth on the grid and consistently found his way on the podium throughout the series’s four rounds. In the final round at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Dettman qualified on pole and won all three races.
Dettman’s successful season racing in Formula Ford had impressed Picard enough to give the 20-year-old a seat in the upcoming F4 US season. He was announced at the team on January 11.
Dettman credited the low starting cost of driving in Formula Ford with helping him develop his racing skills while simultaneously keeping finances in check.
“Before the Formula Ford stuff, I only did simulators because that was really all I could afford,” Dettman said. “For the average person, if they want to get into racing, doing Formula Ford or even racing Miatas would really help before getting into downforce, F4-type cars.”
Aiming for the podium
Dettman and Momentum Motorsports hit the ground running with F4 testing back in the fall. Last month, the team appeared at the official series test in New Orleans, where Dettman consistently finished in the top 10 throughout the weekend.
Picard admitted that it was hard to gauge the car’s place in the pecking order during the series tests because a lot of the teams were absent. However, he remained confident in Dettman’s ability to perform for the upcoming season.
“We certainly will give him a podium car, there is no question about that,” Picard said. “I do believe that he will do well and he will see some podiums.”
Dettman hopes to leverage his unique background of hands-on work engineering the car to give him an advantage when he finally puts his hands on the steering wheel for a race.
“It’s kind of weird being around the cars with all the employees and engineers working on it and just standing and not doing anything because I’m just so used to it,” Dettman said.
As for his expectations for the 2023 season, Dettman is confident in his team’s ability to put together a car that can challenge the top of the F4 leaderboard.
The Formula 4 United States Championship kicks off its 2023 season at NOLA Motorsports Park from 9–12 March.
Header photo credit: Garrett Dettman Racing
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