JPII has a connection with 2017 IndyCar Champion Josef Newgarden. Newgarden attended JPII his freshman and sophomore years and left JPII to pursue his dream of being an IndyCar driver in 2007. Mr. Mike McLaren remembers Newgarden as a bright and talented student full of passion for the race car industry. In fact, McLaren recalls Newgarden telling him his freshman year that he was “going to be a famous race car driver”. Dismissing the comment at the time, McLaren is pleasantly surprised and genuinely happy for Newgarden’s success, as is Mrs. Jennifer Smith. Smith, a longtime Indy fan also remembers Newgarden. In fact, she attended the Indy 500 the year Newgarden first participated in the race. Smith has been following Newgarden’s career for the past 10 years and is very excited for him.
A native of Hendersonville, Newgarden returned for a quick visit on September 20th. The Hendersonville Standard hosted a press conference for him at Drakes Creek Park where many locals gathered to welcome him home. Among those attending were Mrs. Michelle Barber, Director of Admissions and Advancement and Mrs. Jo Lind Weaver, Alumni Relations Officer. During their conversation, Newgarden recalled JPII fondly and reminisced about playing ping-pong with Golden Tate in the Commons area. Mrs. Barber invited Newgarden to visit JPII and speak to the student body in the future, an invitation we all look forward to him accepting.