Newgarden Ready for Walter Hayes Trophy Seventeen year-old Josef Newgarden would like nothing more than to bask in the afterglow of becoming the first American driver to win the prestigious Formula Ford Festival. A week and half on from his historic achievement, it’s only somewhat sunk in because there’s still another race to be won, and that’s been the primary focus. The Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and the British Grand Prix, will host the upcoming Walter Hayes Trophy this weekend. As the second jewel on the international Formula Ford scene, a victory in the Walter Hayes Trophy would complete what has been up to now a magnificent tenure for Newgarden as a Team USA Scholarship member.
“This whole experience has just been unbelievably awesome,” said Newgarden. “Winning the Formula Ford Festival and being the first American to do so, is definitely starting to sink in, but I think it will be a while before I really get the full magnitude of that. There’s still another weekend of racing to finish, so right now, that’s where I’m trying to direct my focus.”
With some bad weather, including a dusting of snow, descending upon the English Midlands, early testing had to be canceled, but it doesn’t mean Newgarden has been left with nothing to do. Both he and Team USA Scholarship teammate Conor Daly were given the wonderful opportunity to spend time with two of the three most storied teams in Formula One, multiple driver and constructors champions AT&T Williams F1 and Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes.
It was a chance to see how two of the best in the business go about achieving their incredible success.
“We went to Williams first and it was just what you would expect an F1 team facility to be like, spotless, efficient with loads of amazing technology. What strikes you most at Williams is the history and the pure racer’s mentality. Then you go to the McLaren Technology Centre and it’s like walking into tomorrow. I don’t mean any disrespect to Williams, but it’s hard to not to be overwhelmed by McLaren’s facility.” Newgarden continued, “At both teams we got to see more than I would have ever imagined they’d let us see, especially at McLaren. I can’t thank either of them enough for an unforgettable experience. I hope my next visit to an F1 facility will be as more than just a guest. I wouldn’t say that I am more motivated to make it to F1 than before, because that has always been my aim, but to some extent this visit has made me realize that with a lot of commitment and hard work on my part, it can be a reality.”
Returning to the upcoming weekend, Newgarden believes that the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch will only serve him well for Silverstone, despite only having seen the circuit on TV and via video games.
“The European style of racing isn’t necessarily more aggressive than in America, but it is definitely different. What I’ve learned most is that you are allowed more moves to defend a position, so any move to pass is definitely a riskier proposition. The key is to not let even the slightest opportunity to make a pass get away. Where in the U.S. you might be a bit more patient, here you can’t be,” opined Newgarden. “I think a podium this weekend is a real possibility, and a win definitely is within reach.”
Testing for the Walter Hayes Trophy begins Thursday, October 30, followed by practice on Friday, qualifying heats on Saturday and then race heats Sunday leading up to finale in the afternoon.
Visit teamusascholarship.org to follow all the action.