Former F1 World Champion tips Hawksworth to take the States by storm|
Jack Hawksworth has been tipped to 'show what he is truly capable of' in 2013 by a former F1 World Champion - as motorsport legend John Surtees OBE presented the gifted Bradford-born speed demon with the Henry Surtees Award at the glittering British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Awards luncheon.
The star-studded gathering at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London was attended by a veritable 'Who's Who' of British motor racing, including Surtees, Sir Stirling Moss OBE, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Sir Frank Williams CBE, David Coulthard MBE, Christian Horner, Ross Brawn OBE, Murray Walker OBE and the club's President-in-Chief, HRH The Duke of Kent. There was even a cameo appearance by two-time Olympic Gold medallist Ed Clancy MBE.
The ceremony is held annually to celebrate the most illustrious motor racing achievements of the year, and the Henry Surtees Award was introduced in 2009 after John's 18-year-old son Henry was killed in a freak accident during an FIA Formula Two Championship meeting at Brands Hatch. It is bestowed upon the driver deemed to have produced the most stand-out performance of any of the club's BRDC Rising Stars.
Hawksworth was selected as the 2012 recipient of the accolade as a reward for his sublime, title-winning rookie campaign across the Pond in the fiercely-contested Star Mazda Championship - during the course of which he stormed to eight victories with Team Pelfrey, tallied 12 podium finishes, set ten pole positions and claimed 11 fastest laps. In short, the 21-year-old McLaren AUTOSPORT Young Driver of the Year finalist and TORGOEN Swiss brand ambassador broke practically every record going.
"It's been a dream year, to be honest," he acknowledged. "I've been in the form of my life and I've had a great team behind me - I've been very fortunate to work with so many highly-skilled people. It was a risk going to America, but it was a calculated risk. I was racing on the other side of the world, but that only makes it even more special to be noticed on this side of the world and it's fantastic for that to be recognised with such a prestigious award. It really is the feather in the cap.
"Henry was a very promising young talent. I never met him personally, but I know he grew up in gearbox karting like I did and followed a similar career path. He was very successful and was rising through the motorsport ranks when he was tragically killed. It's an absolute honour to receive an award in his name."
Indeed, as he prepares to accelerate his own burgeoning career up through the gears in 2013 with graduation into Indy Lights - the second step on the esteemed 'Mazda Road to Indy' ladder - the highly-rated Cullingworth hotshot can draw tremendous inspiration from the accomplishment of fellow US-domiciled Brit Dario Franchitti, who was similarly feted at the BRDC Awards for etching his name into the history books this season with a third triumph in the iconic Indianapolis 500, just one short of the outright benchmark.
"Jack's performances in the 2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Series, after just limited testing, were excellent," affirmed Surtees, the only man ever to have clinched the coveted world championship crown on both two wheels and four. "His following campaign in Formula Renault UK did not bring the results that might have been expected, but Jack was still noted for driving some superb races, earning him podium positions and a win at Croft.
"He was then faced with the agonising problem of how to pursue his career. Junior motorsport, once you start arriving on the threshold of Formula Three, is very expensive and normally beyond the possibilities of being funded by family and friends. The decision to look to America was a brave one, but also a sensible one. Jack was following in the footsteps of drivers like Dario Franchitti and the late Dan Wheldon, who had demonstrated exceptional potential but hadn't been able to progress their careers here in the UK.
"It was very nice to see Jack's success recognised by the BRDC, and honouring him with the Henry Surtees Award was something I fully supported and I was pleased to be able to present him with it personally. I am sure that we have not heard the last of Jack Hawksworth, and that with his ability, determination and the opportunity he now has in America, he will be able to show what he is truly capable of."
"The BRDC Rising Stars scouts were delighted to be able to consider a number of remarkable achievements by BRDC Rising Stars during 2012, before unanimously deciding that the most outstanding was that of Jack Hawksworth," added BRDC Rising Stars scouts chairman Ian Titchmarsh.
"After just one season of Formula Renault racing in the UK, Jack took the bold and brave step of heading for the USA and the Star Mazda Championship, winning eight of the 16 races he contested in what is a very competitive series. The BRDC wishes Jack the best of fortune as he sets off on the second part of the Mazda Road to Indy in 2013 in Indy Lights."
Report by Russell Atkins
Photos by Jacob Ebray