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The False Grid: Matthew Cowley

Matthew Cowley is tied for the F1600 Championship as he heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after sweeping all three races in the same day at Mid-Ohio. We caught up with the Englishman yesterday as he hopes the momentum carries over to the next rounds of the championship.

What are your expectations coming into Indianapolis after sweeping 3 races in the same day at Mid-Ohio?

I take each meeting as it comes. Transferring knowledge from one track to another is difficult because each track brings its own challenges. My plan is to go out and do the best I can, finishing the race and gaining maximum points for the team and myself.

What goes on in your mind when you’re racing at speeds of 140+ mph?

I’m focused on the job I have to do, which is to get the car in the best position possible to maximize points for the team and myself.

What is the most daring thing you’ve done outside of racing?

I like to try different sports such as downhill skiing, wakeboarding, and snowboarding. I thought moving to America on my own would be challenging, but has been easy thanks to everyone here.

Is there a current or past driver that you inspire to be like?

There are so many brilliant drivers both past and present that have great skills and attributes. The one who currently comes to mind is Fernando Alonso. Even though he’s a F1 World Champion, he has had to show persistence and a positive attitude in difficult circumstances over the past few years as the team develops the car. His persistence and positive attitude combined with his natural ability in a car has obviously shown in his Indianapolis 500 debut.

When did you first start driving and what made you want to start to drive?

It all started when I attended to a friend’s birthday party at a go-kart track. I participated in one indoor karting season and then I made the transition to outdoor tracks. In four years of karting I won both national and club championships and ran 6th in the UK in my second year. For my 16th birthday I took my ARDS test which you are required to take to get your racing license. After receiving my license, I started competing in the Formula Ford 1600 series. In my first full year of racing I won both the national and northern championship for pre90 class and was 2nd in the Formula Ford Festival Historic and won the Walter Hayes Historic. I made the transition to a post 89 car and came 4th in the Scottish championship, 2nd in northern championship and won the Champion of Oulton and Star of Anglesey. I was also proud to be selected as a Scottish Motor Racing Club (SMRC) Rising Star and a member of the Motor Sport Association (MSA) Academy Squad. I am also part of the Andy Priaulx driver development programme.

How does racing F1600 in the US differ from racing in the BRSCC Formula Ford series in England? Are there any similarities?

The cars are very similar, the main differences are the slick tires, the modern Honda engine, rolling starts and higher top speeds. The tires provide faster cornering speeds and the engines are more reliable than with the Ford Kent engines we use in the UK. Racing in the UK is as competitive as here, with more robust attacking and defensive moves in the BRSCC.

This is the first time racing as a team member rather than “dad and lad” team. I’m really enjoying the experience and depth of support from Team Pelfrey.

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