INDIANAPOLIS - Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ (SSM) Indy Lights team will embark on the quest for its seventh Firestone Indy Lights Championship in 2013 with the signing of 21-year-old British racer Jack Hawksworth.
Hawksworth dominated the 2012 Star Mazda series where he broke series records for the most wins, poles and fastest laps on his way to capturing the championship.
The 2013 Firestone Indy Lights season will kick off in St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 23 and be highlighted by the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24. The 12-event season that runs in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series will conclude on October 19 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
SSM owner Sam Schmidt believes Hawksworth’s dominating effort in Star Mazda will enable him to excel in Firestone Indy Lights.
“I’m really pleased to have Jack join SSM in 2013,” Schmidt said. “I watched his progress very closely this year in Star Mazda. He did a fantastic job, especially since he had not raced in the US before and everything was unfamiliar.”
SSM tested Hawksworth in a Firestone Indy Lights car at Sebring International Raceway in November.
“We’ve run several drivers straight out of the Star Mazda Series, and Jack seemed to adapt very quickly to the Lights car,” Chris Finch, SSM Firestone Indy Lights engineer, said. “He got up to speed very quickly and provided very analytical feedback. It will be great to see his nuances as he establishes his driving style in a Lights car.”
The signing of Hawksworth shows the continued commitment team owner Sam Schmidt has shown to the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system.
SSM’s 2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion, Tristan Vautier, won the 2011 Star Mazda Championship before joining SSM to compete in Firestone Indy Lights. Hawksworth follows in Vautier’s path from Star Mazda to Firestone Indy Lights, with an eventual goal of reaching the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s an honor to facilitate the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship at this level for the third year in a row,” Schmidt said. “The ladder has been proven to properly prepare drivers for the next level and if the performances of drivers like Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly are any indication, Jack Hawksworth will be a Firestone Indy Lights championship contender in 2013.”
Jack Hawksworth’s Career at a Glance:
2012: Star Mazda Champion, collected 8 wins
2011: Won at Croft and scored multiple podiums in Formula Renault U.K. Championship
2010: Won British Kartmasters Championship
Sam Schmidt Motorsports