A one-on-one with Jack Hawksworth, fresh off his rookie season in IndyCar.
It was recently announced that 2014 IndyCar rookie Jack Hawksworth would compete for A.J. Foyt Racing in 2015. The 23-year-old Hawksworth had a up-and-down rookie season where he posted strong runs at Houston and the Indianapolis Grand Prix, while also missing the Pocono event due to injuries sustained in a practice crash.
Aside from competing in the IndyCar Series, Hawksworth also took part in select TUDOR United SportsCar Championship events, where he claimed a win on the Indianapolis road course and finishing no worse than fifth in four starts.
It was recently announced that you will be joining A.J. Foyt Racing for the 2015 season. How did that come about, and how do you feel about driving for such a figure as A.J. Foyt?
Jack Hawksworth: I’m really excited about it. It came about at the end of last season. [Foyt] wanted to run a second car and obviously I was very keen to be a part of that program. I went down and I met all of the guys and really seemed to have a good chemistry with them all and just was really excited about the direction that the team’s going in. I really wanted to be a part of it. That was immediately kind of my first choice for next year so it’s absolutely fantastic that I ended up there.
Working for A.J. is very cool, he’s just a very cool guy. He’s achieved a huge amount in motorsports and you can’t help but be impressed with what he’s done, having won in every kind of car and every kind of formula. It’s amazing to be driving for him.
How would you rate your rookie season?
JH: I thought it was competitive. I thought it was a decent job. I had a good group of people around me and a very good engineering staff and a good crew. I thought we made the most of the opportunities we had. We showed we had some speed at the beginning of the year and at the year we ground out some results when, perhaps, we weren’t quick enough.
So I felt that we as a team did a good job and did everything we could given the circumstances. You always look back and you say, “I wish this race had been slightly different,” or perhaps “Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” That happens, but overall, I look back on it with fond memories of working with some very good people. I’ve got a fantastic opportunity driving for A.J. Foyt next year, and hopefully I could go and have some great results and great times there.
What was the biggest learning experience from your rookie year?
JH: I don’t think there was one particular thing, to be honest. I think one of the biggest things going into IndyCar in my first year is that the races are a lot longer than what I was used to in the [Indy Lights]. Also with it being my first year I also raced sports cars as well. Much longer racing in terms of length, so it’s not quite an all-out attack from the green flag as it would be in the [Indy Lights], and it’s a lot of strategy since the races are longer. You kind of feel your way into the race a little bit more, so I guess that was more of a thing to learn more than anything.
There’s more you can do with the cars, especially with next year’s aero regulations you can free them up a little bit, so from a technical side it’s quite a bit different as well. So I’d say those are the two main things.
Do you feel that you’ve grown stronger as an IndyCar driver over the past season?
JH: I certainly feel that I came out of the season with a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on, and yeah, I certainly feel like I came out with a lot more experience and a lot more track time. I feel that you learn more in that first season of racing than you do further down the line. Everything was new to me and I came out the season feeling better and stronger.
Aside from IndyCar, you also made several starts in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, where you picked up a win at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Do you feel that the experience you gained there helped towards your IndyCar career?
JH: Yeah, I think so. I think, in all honesty, the sports cars were good for me because the way the IndyCar season went. We were quite strong pace-wise at the beginning of the year and for a number of reasons the speed fell away at the end of the year, so it was nice to do the sports car stuff. I was in a very, very competitive car and I was able to get pole position (at Road Atlanta) and win a race and turn some fast laps and what not. That was nice. I think it was a good learning experience driving a different car than IndyCar.
More than anything I enjoyed doing it. It was a lot of fun and I had a blast.
Could we expect to see you making more starts in the TUSC Series in 2015?
JH: I mean I’d like to. I’d like to do as much racing as I possibly can, so if I have a chance to do that then I will. Obviously, I have to be sensible. My main focus is obviously on the 2015 IndyCar season and doing the best job I can but if there is an opportunity for some sports car racing and it doesn’t affect my IndyCar program then yeah, I’d love to do it.
What other forms of racing would you like to try?
JH: I mean, I’d love to do some more GT racing, some closed-cockpit stuff. That’ll be fun. V8 Supercars, there’s nothing I wouldn’t like to try at some point or another. When you get a chance to drive a race car you take it.
I haven’t really thought too far ahead on what I’d like to do, but at the minute my focus is in IndyCar, and whatever cars I get to drive, then fantastic. I’ll go out there and enjoy it and see what I can do.
If the Verizon IndyCar Series were to take a track off their schedule and add another one, which tracks would you like for them to pick?
JH: I would like to see Road America. I think that’s a fantastic circuit. I’d like to see that on the calendar. Another good track would be Baltimore, an absolutely fantastic street circuit, so I’d love to see that back on.
As for taking a track off, it’s not really my place and I think we have a good selection of tracks on the schedule, but as for adding to the current schedule I’d love to see Road America and I’d like to see Baltimore make a return.
Lastly, when all is said and done with your racing career, how would you like to be remembered?
JH: (laughs) Hopefully I have a few more years, but I guess as a guy who gave it 100% and did the best I could on any given day, which is the truth. So yeah, that’s how I’d like to be viewed.