MONTEREY, Calif. – A 24-year-old Brit and 20-year-old from Malaysia share an apartment. In Cypress, Texas.
On the surface, the scene has comedic potential. But their story isn't a hackneyed reprise of “The Odd Couple,” with Jack Hawksworth taking on the Jack Klugman role and Weiron Tan channeling Tony Randall, or a clash of cultures deep in the heart of Texas.
Actually, the individuals are not that disparate.
“Were from different cultures and different upbringings, but I think we room together really well because he’s neat and tidy and easy to get along with so it just made sense,” Hawksworth, who recently completed his second Verizon IndyCar Series season and first with AJ Foyt Racing, says of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires freshman driver.
Though Tan’s Andretti Autosport team is based in Indianapolis, the living arrangement was borne from convenience – both are managed by Chris Harfield of the Williams Harfield Sports Group – with the underlying benefit of a Verizon IndyCar Series driver as a 24-7 sounding board. The location, caught up in the northwest sprawl of Houston, is a short gallop up U.S. 290 to the Foyt headquarters in Waller and still reasonably inexpensive for the young drivers.
“The beauty of having both of them in the stable is that one can mentor the other,” Harfield says. “It’s important for Weiron to see how Jack applies himself, how he’s training. Weiron takes himself pretty seriously, too.
“They work well together and they get along very well. Weiron studied in London and understands the British culture. Jack was Weiron’s driver coach during some of the preseason testing. He had to learn a lot of these things the hard way, so to give back something to the younger guys is quite gratifying for him. Weiron hopefully continues to do well.”
The sparsely-furnished apartment (Harfield purchased a chair for when he visited) is vacant this weekend.
Tan headed west to compete in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season-ending doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Hawksworth traveled in the opposite direction to put in some laps in a kart at the Hooten Park Circuit and visit family in the UK.
Tan, a former participant in the Caterham F1 Academy, has recorded four victories and six pole starts in Pro Mazda – the middle rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development system. He envisions climbing the ladder to become the first Malaysian driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“Jack has been champion in Pro Mazda in 2012 and (finished fourth in) Indy Lights in 2013 as well as a successful IndyCar driver, so it’s great to have him sort of as a mentor,” Tan says. “We train together and eat, sleep and breathe racing. It’s just how we have to do it. I’ve learned a lot from him.
“We really want to succeed and this gives us the motivation, starting with nothing and hopefully gaining more in everything.”