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The End of an Era for Papaya Dave

After joining the Arrow McLaren SP in September 2023, David Malukas and the papaya team parted ways.


Before joining the team in September, Malukas was a part of Dale Coyne Racing, where he scored two podiums. He finished second at the World Wide Technology Raceway in 2022 and finished third the following year at the World Wide Technology Raceway.  The conjoined forces of Malukas and the Arrow team were a duo many fans were excited to see. The duo was the hot topic of conversation during the off-season due to Malukas’ charismatic online personality. Fans seemed to love the trio of Malukas, Pato O’ Ward and Alexander Rossi, their online presence during media days, and the character depth that they added to the team.


Courtesy of Arrow McLaren


As the season began, many fans were looking forward to Malukas’ performance on the track. However, it would be delayed as he suffered a minor mountain bike accident which resulted in a left wrist injury. In a statement given by Arrow McLaren SP, they expected Malukas’ recovery to be six weeks after removing his stitches on Feb.22.


The recovery process took longer than expected, and Malukas had to miss the first four races of the season. His replacements for the races went back and forth between Callum Illot and Théo Pourchaire. With the delay in the recovery process, it seemed  time to cut ties with Malukas. On April 29, it was announced that the team had let go of Malukas for the rest of the season. 


The past three months have been challenging. I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to drive for Arrow McLaren and regret that it never materialized,” said Malukas in a statement Arrow McLaren SP gave.  “I would have loved to have continued representing the team and its partners going forward. They have been good, and I appreciate all they have done for me.”


With the departure of Malukas, there was a lingering question of who would replace Malukas and complete the trio with O’Ward and Rossi. While there has not been a definite answer, there are some candidates.


Callum Illot, who has been one of the drivers to take over Malukas, is not new to the racing scene. He has competed with Juncos Hollinger Racing in the Indy NXT series and was previously a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and was a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari.


Courtesy of IndyCar.com


There is also the second driver Théo Pourchaire who has had experience in Formula 3 and made his debut with the team at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. With both drivers having excellent qualifications to represent the team, it can be hard for the papaya team to make a decision.


Courtesy of IndyCar.com


Although it is the end of an era for “papaya dave '', it is not the last that IndyCar fans will see of him. Malukas was seen at the Indianapolis 500 race, creating behind-the-scenes race content on the IndyCar platform on social media. It is not a goodbye to Malukas but a simple one: see you later.


Edited by: Sarah Muñoz

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