Performing a career reboot is a rarity for most drivers in their early 20s, but that’s the task facing Oliver Askew. Four years removed from his first race in open-wheel cars, the Floridian is working on a follow-up act after making his NTT IndyCar Series debut last season with the Arrow McLaren SP team.
An absence of paying drives has made returning to IndyCar an unlikely scenario in 2021, so the Floridian has turned his attention to IMSA. A chance to test with the Riley Motorsports LMP3 team this week at Daytona International Speedway holds promise for the 23-year-old, and he hopes to fill the upcoming WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar with plenty of dates.
“Coming out of my rookie IndyCar season, I’ve regrouped and have been working hard every day to make sure that I have a lasting career in motorsports,” Askew told RACER. “It’s been the priority for me ever since I made it to professional racing through the Road To Indy. I’ve been counting my blessings every day, and I learned a lot about myself this year as an athlete, as a person, I look forward to continuing to build on that with the next challenge in whatever series I find myself. I’m feeling fairly confident that we’ll be able to continue this journey.”
Askew would welcome the chance to continue in IndyCar. With help from a new manager, and the ongoing advisement from his father, the 23-year-old’s made contact with most teams in the paddock. And while interest has been shown, a need for sponsorship has led to the pivot towards sports cars. Whether it proves to be a one-year transition or a long-term proposition remains to be seen.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished so much already; I was never supposed to make it to IndyCar,” he said. “In 2016, I was just stepping my feet into the open-wheel world, so through winning Road To Indy championships, graduating to Indy Lights, then to IndyCar, it became possible to even be here. So if I had my ultimate wish, I’d definitely get another full-time opportunity in IndyCar, and I feel like I can make a name for myself in IndyCar given more seat time. That was only my fourth year in cars. So it was definitely difficult for me and that’s not a secret. But I believe everything happens for a reason.
“And when one door closes another door opens, and that’s especially true in motorsports. Most of my family is based in Sweden, and I’d love to do more racing in Europe. And I actually grew up probably watching sports cars more than IndyCar. I used to go to the 12 Hours of Sebring every year as a tradition with my friend and I just love the style of racing. I loved how the cars looked. I loved how they sounded, and it was just action-packed. So I think it’d be awesome to IMSA, and that’s why I’m trying to create something for myself in the sports car world.”