Catching up with Jak Crawford

Catching up with Jak Crawford

Edited by Dariana Almeyda


Let’s set the scene: we’re in Baku, Azerbaijan for the fourth round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship and the sun is beating down over the paddock as it comes to life with the energy of another weekend of racing. Down the narrow walkway running between the temporary garages and the tiny team offices, perched upon a transport container, we spot a cool, calm and collected rookie from Texas…

We’d been hoping to catch up with Jak Crawford for some time now. After taking his first F2 podium as a rookie with Hitech Pulse-Eight in the sprint race Down Under, we thought there was no time like the present to learn a bit more about one of the youngest drivers racing in F2 this season. From growing up in the US karting scene in Texas to his big move across the pond at just 13, Jak’s story is a pretty cool one.


PF: Hey Jak, how are you?

JK: I’m fantastic, thank you!


PF: You had your first Formula 2 podium out in Aus, congrats! How did that feel?

JK: Yeah, it felt really good. I think it’s been a big confidence boost for me as I hadn’t had any points up until Aus, so it was great to finally get some points on the board. If you had told me last year that in my first five F2 races, I would have a podium, I would be pretty happy with that.


PF: Other than the podium, how did you like Australia? Did you get up to much else while you were there?

JK: Yeah I loved Australia a lot, it was my first time visiting, and it’s such a cool place. The atmosphere at the race was super cool and the fans were great. It was just an awesome event. And then I spent four extra days in Melbourne and exploring Aus a bit and had the best time.


PF: Any stand-out favourite things you did? Did you see kangaroos?

JK: I did not see a kangaroo either, even though I really wanted to! But I would say the coolest thing I did was after the race me and my mom went to see the penguins on Phillip Island. That was a really cool thing to do. But in general, Melbourne was just a really cool city and as I said the race itself was a really good one.


PF: Does a result like that help you to feel confident heading into this weekend? 

JK: Yeah, massively! And besides the good results, we were good in free practice, fastest in the wet and good in quali in Melbourne. The feature race was also looking promising. So it does give a lot of confidence heading into this weekend in Baku.


PF: Taking it back a bit, how did you get into racing and what’s the story so far?

JK: So my parents weren't ever involved in racing, but I always loved cars growing up, so my dad bought me a go-kart when I was four and I started racing in the US when I was six years old. So really what started as a hobby turned into a career. My dad had no racing experience but he became my mechanic and taught me to drive in those early years!

I spent most of my karting career in the US up until I was about 13. Then I headed over to Europe for the first time in 2018 and did a karting season there. But it got to a point where I was a bit too tall for go-karts so I really struggled to be quick by the end of my karting career. My height is what moved me into cars at quite an early age. I did my first F4 race when I was 13. When I moved to Europe and joined the Red Bull Junior team in 2020, I was 15. Since then everything has progressed pretty fast. I had my first year in Europe in F4 and then straight into FiA F3 the year after, which was quite a big step for me, and now I'm here in F2.


PF: Did your family move to Europe with you?

JK: No, when I left for karting in 2018 I went on my own and when I moved again in 2020 I went alone. Now I live on my own in the UK in Milton Keynes. They're still very much involved, though and I always have at least one of my parents at each race.


PF: Sweet, do you have siblings?

JK: No, I’m an only child. I think that’s the only reason I’m able to race! haha...


PF: Was it a culture shock moving to MK?

JK: Yeah definitely, but also just the UK as a whole. Where I’m from in Texas it's very… I guess you could say I live on a farm, ranch style with lots of horses, cows and people with strong Texas accents, cowboy hats and cowboy boots! So moving to the UK in general, it felt very proper. Whenever I go back to the US one thing I notice is how bad the drivers are on the roads there. I find the UK and European road systems are a lot better. In the States the roads are crazy, people just do what they want.


PF: Anything else you miss about the US when you're in the UK?

JK: I miss the food in the States, especially where I live there's great Mexican food, but I struggle to find that in the UK!


PF: What has been your career highlight so far? 

JK: My most recent highlight would probably be my win last year at the Red Bull Ring in F3, in the sprint race. And also my F2 podium in Aus. Considering how strong the field is in F2, I think it was a big achievement.


PF: How was it racing in the States and climbing the racing ladder back at home?

JK: I think the American karting doesn’t really get the credit it deserves. It's very competitive and there are people who really know what they're talking about, as well as a lot of great drivers. I think when I was younger my initial goal wasn’t to be a Formula 1 driver. I wanted to race in Nascar growing up, but everything kind of changed when I got a taste of Europe in 2018, that's when I started to go down the Formula route. 


PF: How does the American racing scene compare to the European? Any big differences? 

JK: Yeah, it’s a hard one to describe. I think America for me was home and I spent my early karting career growing up, learning and racing there, so when I moved over to Europe it definitely felt different. It almost feels more professional in a way. For me personally, when I moved it was difficult in the beginning in relation to racing, because you don't know the tracks so well or what to expect. It takes a little while to just figure out how it all works and who’s who.


PF: Would you still be keen to race in Nascar or another American series in the future?

JK: Yeah I would love one day to race Nascar or Indy car, but at the moment that's not my goal. For sure when I'm older I would go back to it.


PF: You’re part of the Red Bull Junior Team, what’s it like to have such a renowned brand and team backing you?

JK: It's super cool and I'm honoured to be part of the Red Bull Junior team. It's my fourth year now and I've spent my whole junior career with the team, so I don't know much outside of it to be honest. It’s been great, and I'm super happy with all the support and help I get. 


PF: Do they help you out on the technical side?

JK: Yeah especially in the last year or so they’ve really ramped up the programme. We have access to the best engineers, access to the sim and we can ask for anything we need really.


PF: Which tracks are you most excited to race this season?

JK: I was really excited to drive Jeddah, that was the one I was most looking forward to. Now we’ve done Jeddah I would say it's probably my new favourite track. But for the rest of the season, I'm excited to race here in Baku, Imola and Monaco. Imola is probably one of my favourite tracks, and then Monaco because it's Monaco. I've never raced there before so I'm excited for that one. 


PF: Do you have any pre-race rituals, are you listening to music or doing anything to get in the zone?

JK: I put on some music and do my warm-up. I like to mix up my physical warm-up each race so I don't get bored. I try to follow the same race day routine, so I try to have the same thing for breakfast, and wake up at the same time…. I think I’m a very superstitious person. I get in the car on the same side every time, always tighten the left belt first, stuff like that I like to keep the same. My coach doesn't believe in superstition but I'm a firm believer haha.


PF: Who are the drivers or athletes that inspire you? 

JK: Kobe Bryant. He’s inspired me the most. 


PF: Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of racing?

JK: It’s a bit hard at the moment to focus on other hobbies outside of racing with how busy we are. But I enjoy sim racing at home, and I love just hanging out with friends when I can.


PF: Racing allows us to travel a lot; what’s your favourite place you’ve been to so far?

JK: Good question... I think Melbourne. I really loved it there. Also Budapest – Budapest has a cool vibe.


PF: What’s something on your bucket list? Do you have any big goals in life that don’t relate to racing? 

JK: I really want to go to Japan and spend time there exploring the cities and eating the food!


Jak, thank you so much and good luck for the weekend!

Jak went on to claim his second F2 podium in Baku during the sprint race on Saturday. We’re not saying it was because of the lovely chat we had, but we’re also not saying it wasn’t…

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