Right from a young age, Oliver Askew has been around racing, getting his start behind the wheel at seven-years-old.
“One of my friends got rental karts for his birthday and I really liked it,” Askew recalled. “My dad took me to Palm Beach International Raceway and I drove their karts for a few years until he bought me my own. I raced club events there with Kyle Kirkwood – so we have been racing together since I was around 8 and he was about 6 years old.”
From there, he got a chance to attend the Skip Barber Racing School, competing in some events, prior to joining Team USA. Being successful there allowed him to take part in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, which he won to allow himself to compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship.
“I realized going in that it could make or break my career,” he said. “I put everything I had into it: I tried to keep my cool and I knew that even though I was in a good position going into the final, one mistake could have taken me out of contention.
“This was my big break. It gave me the chance I had been looking for. Not only am I racing on the Mazda Road to Indy, which is a dream come true for me, but I’m a Mazda driver. Mazda is such a great company and brand and I am so proud to represent them. Looking at the drivers who have gone through this program, most of them end up as professional racing drivers. We all look to guys like Spencer Pigot as our biggest role models.”
Right out of the gate, Askew has impressed. After posting a runner-up in his debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, he backed it up with five straight victories.
“Based on testing and Spring Training, we knew we would be competitive,” he said. “The championship is the primary goal. That’s one of the reasons I was so happy with our qualifying at St. Petersburg: it’s so easy to crash there and so many drivers leave there with a deficit, so I didn’t take any chances. Hopefully we can keep our momentum up.”
Now following the month off, he heads into Road America next weekend, leading by 60 points ahead of Rinus Veekay in search of a sixth win.
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