A dream comes true. That’s what being selected for the Team USA Scholarship means to me. Since I was in karting I remember watching the SAFEisFAST.com video on “Winning a Racing Scholarship with Team USA” and dreaming of one day being behind the wheel of one of the famous red, white and blue Formula Ford 1600 cars.
The heritage behind the Team USA Scholarship is extremely impressive. One quick look at the former winners of the scholarship just shows how much of an honor it is to be chosen – Spencer Pigot, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Matthew Brabham are all former scholarship winners and the list goes on. After receiving the call from Jeremy Shaw regarding my acceptance into the program I pretty much went into shock for two days. I don’t think I have ever smiled more in my life and am still smiling as I write this blog. I can’t be more excited to get started with the program in a few weeks’ time at Silverstone.
My love for racing started with my first words “I see car” and from there my passion for motor racing took off. I started racing after begging my parents to let me try karting at our local indoor karting track. Hundreds of trips to our local K1 Speed only satisfied me for so long until I wanted to do some “real” racing. After some more pleading with my parents I began outdoor karting at the age of 11. After researching the web with my mother we found a small track called Badger Kart Club about two hours away from our home in Winnetka, Ill. Badger became my home track and is still home to many happy memories including winning the 2018 BKC Tag Jr. Championship and finishing second in the Yamaha KT100 championship. I also competed at the national and regional levels of karting in the United States where I enjoyed many successful outings and great experiences.
In 2019 I stepped into open wheel cars in the FRP F1600 Championship Series at the age of 15. The learning curve from the beginning to the end of the year was massive and I enjoyed every minute of it. Every practice session, qualifying and race, I learned something new. I finished third in the championship with eight podiums along with enjoying some phenomenal battles with former Team USA Scholarship winners Josh Green and Jonathan Kotyk (below).
After examining my options for 2020 I made the decision to step into British Formula Ford 1600 with Low Dempsey Racing. I was beyond excited to get started but unfortunately ran into many unforeseen complications with COVID-19 including international travel which became almost impossible. After a delay of five months, the Formula Ford racing season finally began. Due to the nature of the COVID-19 quarantining restrictions my family and I made the decision that it would be best for me to stay put in the U.K. This has meant I have been living in a small village in the U.K. called Brigstock with Cliff and Michelle Dempsey for nearly four months. This has also led to some challenging circumstances with my education but luckily my high school has gone online and I have been able to attend classes from the U.K.
So far I have enjoyed every moment of racing and living in the United Kingdom, and have continued to learn a lot in and out of the race car. The learning curve in the car has been great from the beginning of the season. Not only has it been a lot of fun to battle with some of the best in Formula Ford but the style of defending and attacking in British motorsport has taught me a lot about race craft and controlled aggression which I believe will benefit me for the rest of my career. I also have learned the art of cooking while I have been staying in Brigstock. Thanks to Michelle Dempsey, I can now proudly say I can make some very tasty pancakes and omelets.
My season itself has been phenomenal with a win at Cadwell Park along with 10 podiums, six fastest laps and three pole positions. With this said, results themselves don’t show how beneficial racing has been in the U.K. I also have learned a lot from the team about car setup as well as the mental side of racing and what it takes to be in the correct frame of mind whilst competing. A lot of great experience has been logged but much more is to come in this new chapter of my life as a Team USA Scholarship winner.
I would like to thank AERO Paints, Doug Mockett, SAFEisFAST.com, Team Cooper Tire, Bell Helmets, Tom Gloy, Bob Stellrecht, Jeremy Shaw and everyone involved with the Team USA Scholarship for making this amazing opportunity possible along with Cliff Dempsey, Michelle Dempsey and Andy Low for allowing me to be in this position and helping me along every step of the way. I am extremely excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to partner up with Jackson Lee this coming October.