Jak Crawford, a driver from Houston, Texas and an up-and-coming motorsports star, moseyed down south of the border over the October 25-27 to take part in the in the NACAM F4 series. Competing alongside the Formula One World Championship at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the Mexican Grand Prix, it would be Jak’s first wheel-to-wheel experience in a formula car as he walked away from the weekend with a podium result.
After only two days of testing in the F4 car at Mexican tracks in Monterrey and Puebla during the ten days leading up the event, the thirteen-year old pilot found himself on another new track in Mexico City. Competing alongside racers much older and with many years of experience, not to mention at a remarkable venue with hundreds of thousands of spectators, Crawford held his own and turned heads along the way.
Jak’s chosen team, Scuderia Martiga, from Monterrey, Mexico was up for the challenge with the young driver and excited to get started. Jak was also accompanied by his driver coach, former motorsports star, Darren Manning of iAdvanced Motorsports of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Friday was a non-race day and included only 25-minutes of practice time, and six hours later, a 25-minute qualifying session. Fastest out of the field for most of the Friday practice session, Jak ended up a scant two tenths of a second off the pacesetter who bested Crawford’s time late in the session.
The qualifying session would not go as well for the young Texan. Unbeknownst to Jak and his team, the right front tire had a slow leak and the problem was compounded in the on track qualifying laps. After a rush to change to a new set of tires and with only a few minutes remaining in the session, Jak needed to get up to speed quickly as he had time for one flying circuit. On his last flying lap, and with the checkered flag coming, a fellow competitor spun directly in front of him with only a few corners to go and Jak would have to get out of the throttle, qualifying in the fifth position.
The first race of two on the weekend was on Saturday and the threat of rain was lurking in the skies. From his fifth place starting position, Crawford would take part in his first career standing start. It was a great launch and by turn three, the Texan advanced forward to the second position. Holding off the advances of the third place driver for a few laps, Jak finally broke free and was able to set his sights on the leader. Chasing him down quickly when the skies open and rain began to fall, Crawford and his competitors continued to push towards the end of the race on slick tires. It was a tough race on a partially wet track for a new driver and his confidence would waver slightly after a few near misses. In the end, Jak would finish in the fifth position.
Race two took place on Sunday and Jak started on the grid in the second position. Another great launch from a standing start saw Jak hold that position for several laps until the safety car was released for an on track incident. As the safety car pulled in, Jak was caught off guard and his start was not the greatest as he was passed at the end of the front straight. Regaining momentum and chasing down the second place car, twice getting to his rear wing, the multi-time karting champion as unable to make a bid for the position.
“On my first attempt to move back into second position my gearbox hesitated to shift from fourth to fifth and I fell back,” explained Crawford. “I battled forward again and just narrowly missed being able to pass for second position at the checkered flag. In the end, I am a little disappointed with both days’ results. I feel I could have won on Saturday if the weather had not turned and could have done a better job on Sunday on the restart. That is racing and I will continue to improve and gain confidence.”
Darren Manning adds, “Jak is a very naturally-gifted driver but with very little experience in a car. For his first time in competition on a huge stage, he was far more composed than you could ask for a young racer. I look forward to seeing how his future unfolds as he continues to improve in the car.”
Jak would like to thank OMP and Bell Helmets for their safety equipment. He would also like to thank Scuderia Martiga, especially David Martinez and Carlos Pena, but many others as well. Darren Manning of iAdvancedMotorports provided extraordinary help to Jak from a high-level racer who has also had his own first-ever formula car race before.
For more information on Jak Crawford please follow him on Facebook: @jetpakjakcrawford and on Instagram: jakcrawford52. Jak’s marketing website is jetpakjak.com.
Photo: Jak Crawford Racing