Team USA Scholarship 2016: Oliver Askew – From Clueless to Champion
Introducing one of latest two Team USA Scholarship winners, Oliver Askew…. His blog is posted at http://teamusascholarship.org/?p=3556
I know the exact moment my journey started; I can take you to the place. My life as a throttle jockey began when I was 8 years old. I’m a first generation racer; my parents were not racing fans by any means, they were just looking for something fun to do for my eighth birthday. My dad took me out to the Palm Beach International Raceway (then known as Moroso Motorsports Park) to drive rental karts.
I fell in love with the sport right away. I had a blast and we started making it a monthly outing for fun until one day my dad said renting a kart was too expensive: “Let’s buy one,” he said, “it’ll be cheaper in the long run.” That is a good example of how clueless we were but also how far we have come. Not only did we not know what was going to happen, we didn’t even know what could happen. My dad was my mechanic for the next four years and he had some experience turning wrenches from when he built his own motorcycles, but this was a whole different world.
I think an important thing to note in my early development was that the vast amount of time I spent in a kart (until about 12 years old) was turning laps by myself. Thousands of laps, spending time at my home track every week. We often used tires that we were given to us second hand or some we found in the garbage, and we always ran them to the cords. Our program was affordable and perhaps it helped me focus on the kart, the track, consistency, and my driving style.
After gaining some confidence at local club races we decided to venture away from the familiar home track and participate in the state series. This turned out to be a good idea because it allowed us to compare ourselves with some national front-runners. I actually won the series my first season as a junior and the best part about that was that a team looking for a driver to develop noticed me and hired me! My story and racing history is pretty well documented from there. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all really happening; everyone has heard how hard it is to succeed in racing without super-rich parents, but we keep finding a way, and I can tell you first hand that hard work really counts.
The Team USA Scholarship is the beginning of a new chapter. I believe a great deal of what I have achieved and learned over the years, both on and off the track, has brought me together with the right people and presented the right opportunities to prove myself. I always say I am only as good as the people who I am working with, and I have been extremely fortunate to consistently find myself in high-performance environments.
Becoming a Team USA Scholarship driver, means that I will be given the opportunity to prove myself at the highest level of junior open-wheel racing. I am very confident moving into the next few weeks because I know that I will be working with the best team in its class, Cliff Dempsey Racing. Success comes at the intersection of opportunity and preparation and I’m going to use everything I’ve ever learned and every lap I’ve ever turned to maximize this opportunity.