It’s been a whirlwind week for Jack Hawksworth.
First the Autosport Awards, where he was recognized as a finalist for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver award. The next day it was the British Racing Drivers’ Club event in London, where he was presented the Henry Surtees Award for the most outstanding performance by a BRDC Rising Star. On Thursday night at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration, he accepted the Star Mazda Championship award. Finally, he was introduced as a driver or Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights season.
No worries, the 21-year-old Brit says. It’s all good.
Hawksworth, who broke Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear records for wins and poles on his way to earning the title, said he’s “over the moon” to be joining the team that will seek its seventh Firestone Indy Lights championship.
“The results prove that that team takes Firestone Indy Lights extremely seriously and professionally as much as its IZOD IndyCar Series program,” said Hawksworth, who tested with the team in November at Sebring International Raceway. “He has a lot of good guys working for him, and one of the reasons that drew me to the team was the people and their abilities. It captures everything I want in a team.”
Everything was new to Hawksworth, who competed in the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2011, this past season. The ovals were especially an eye-opener, and in ’13 he’ll move to a heavier car with more horsepower on five ovals.
“I think it will be a case of building up slowly (on the ovals), getting our confidence up, and one great thing about driving for Sam Schmidt is that the team has won the Freedom 100 a ridiculous number of times so I’m sure I’ll have a quick one underneath me.
“One of the great things about the Mazda Road to Indy ladder is that each step of the way to IndyCars there are oval so it’s not like you’re thrown into the deep end.”
The 12-race season kicks off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. – where he finished second and first in his Star Mazda and U.S. debut -- on March 23. Schmidt believes Hawksworth’s dominating effort in Star Mazda will enable him to excel in Firestone Indy Lights.
“I watched his progress very closely this year in Star Mazda. He did a fantastic job, especially since he had not raced in the U.S. before and everything was unfamiliar,” said Schmidt, who is seeking to announce the team’s other Firestone Indy Lights drivers before the end of the year. "I'm proud to have the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship winner the past three years."