Oriol Servia, Baltimore's 'favorite driver,' ready for Grand Prix

Take a close look at the Baltimore Orioles logo on IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia's helmet.
Take a close look at the Baltimore Orioles logo on IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia's helmet.(LAT Service photo)

A year ago, Oriol Servia said he should be Baltimore's favorite driver because his name, Oriol, means Oriole in Spanish. He felt he was Baltimore's own.

"Ever since I arrived in this country, people say, 'Oh, Oriol, like the cookie,' and I always say, 'No, Oriol, like the bird, like the Baltimore Orioles.'"

Now, back for the second time for Sunday's IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore, it seems Baltimore is his favorite stop on the IndyCar schedule. If he's not Baltimore's favorite driver, he should be just for his enthusiasm.

"I like black and orange," he said, referring to the Orioles baseball team and to the color of a Baltimore Oriole. "I always have."

To prove it, he has even made a little room on his helmet, squeezing an Oriole [the bird] into the design that is dominated by his beloved countryman, artist Salvador Dali.

And, another thing the Panther DRR Team driver really likes in Baltimore is Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

"Last year, when I finished second, Michael Phelps gave me the trophy," Servia said, with undisguised delight. "Colin Powell gave Will Power the trophy for winning, but Michael Phelps gave me mine. Everyone follows Michael Phelps. I saw him win his gold medals. He is unbelievable and very nice, too.

"I brag about that. I tweet about it. And I am hoping he will give out the trophies again this year. But my plan is to move up to first this year and hope he gives out the championship trophy this time."

Servia is almost giddy. He starts recalling the move that helped him avoid a major tie up in the race at the hairpin turn on Light Street, by the Maryland Science Center.

"It was crazy," he said. "We picked the right lane. We went the outside. I had an Oriole high up in the sky telling me what to do, I think."

You have to give it to him; he knows how to make people smile.