By: Ashley McCubbin
The 2023 USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires season is taking shape, with Exclusive Autosport finalizing their line-up. Texas native Avery Towns will kick off his rookie campaign in the series, driving the blue, black and silver No. 93 Tatuus USF-22.
The 19-year-old recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about his thoughts entering the season.
What are your thoughts going into the 2023 season?
I’m really excited. It’s my first time racing in a Pro level series – everything else has been mixed car classes, mixed skill levels. So I’ve never been at this level of competition before. I haven’t been karting so I’ll be behind the other drivers in the series so I’ll be behind a bit, but I’m going to try everything to get up to speed this season and do well.
So with that in mind, what are your goals for the 2023 season?
Well, obviously I want to do the best that I can – get wins and podiums. Obviously, the biggest goal is winning the series championship, but being my rookie season I’m being realistic and shooting for podiums and the end of the season, I want to be faster than I was at the beginning of the season.
Looking at the schedule of tracks the series will be visiting, what track are you most excited to get to?
St. Pete is looking really good. I haven’t ever driven a street circuit so I’m really excited for St. Pete. It’ll be cool to not only drive the track, but because of what going on through the race weekend with a variety of cars, I’ve always been a car guy. So I’m looking forward to the big events more than anything.
You got the chance to get behind the wheel of the USF car at the test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How did that go, and what was your biggest surprise from that experience?
So I drove with Turn 3 Motorsport at Road America prior to the Indy test to get a feel for the car and hopefully have a feel for the cars. Then I ended up running with Exclusive at Indy, and Exclusive ran a really great program. Even though my lap times were not as quick as I hoped, I made big improvements and learned each session. I think if I just keep working at it, I can be right up there with the fastest guys.
How did you get started in racing originally?
Well, not the normal way. Actually, I had a car wreck and I’ve always been a car guy so it took awhile until I got back in the driver’s seat. Then some friends decided to do AutoCross just in their street cars, and at the time, I didn’t know what that was – parking lot racing with cones. My mom was not real impressed, but it was pretty low risk, not too hard on cars. Did that and had a lot of fun.
Later down the road, I met some people who drive amateur formula cars. At this point in time, I thought Formula Enterprise 2 and F2 were the same thing, I had no idea what any of this stuff was. I got talking with them and they connected me with Formula Mazda which is probably one of the best affordable to get into racing. My first season of that went extremely well – got up to pace, set a couple track records.
I was just progressing through Formula Mazda and got into Formula Renault in from Europe and been driving that car. That’s how I got into it.
Obviously, you’ve been able to have some success with a couple championships along the way. What’s been the biggest memorable moment of your career so far?
Honestly, Jr Sprints. That race was originally won by Carroll Shelby. To be put on a list of great winners like Carroll Shelby is pretty cool. But that was my first time racing in front of fans that come out to see racing. That was cool. I set the track record there in Formula Renault, got the win. That was just a really good experience – and that was on Father’s Day weekend working with my dad as a father-son team.
Five years from now, where do you hope to be in the sport?
Considering I’m on the third step to (NTT) IndyCar (Series), I can progress each step a year I’d be in IndyCar. That’d be pretty cool. I keep my options open. I’d really like to end up in the Lights Series – or Indy NXT as it’s called that. But securing funding and a good ride, definitely trying to figure out how to do that – and keeping my options open. I am ready to talk to other people about other opportunities and rides, but right now, I’m keeping my eyes set on open-wheel.
Who would you consider your racing hero?
Probably Ayrton Senna. I watched the documentaries about him and the way he went about things, I like that because racing to succeed sometimes you have to make a risky move. That’s something he definitely did and I’m trying to get better at.
What would be a piece of advice to that young racer out there that hopes to be at your level?
I would say it’s not too late. When I first started, I heard a lot of people saying getting a formula car at 17-years-old was too late to ever make it into the Pro Series. At the end of the day, it’s not. There’s people older than me still doing the Road to Indy. You just keep your eyes down, focus on what you’re doing, and there’s plenty of opportunities to still make it. It’s obviously a grind. Doing this competition, there’s going to days where its rough. It’s not always going to be the time that you want it to be, but that’s fine as long as you stay focused on your things and not worrying about what other people are doing.