Shortly after announcing its first driver to kick off the New Year, Brian Graham Racing confirmed a second from its headquarters in Innisfil, Ontario: Jonathan Woolridge. The 20-year-old got his racing start at Mosport Kartways, further developed his skills at the Driver Development Track and has toured the Grand Prix Track on open track days. Now he’ll be strapping in with open wheels in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, and we’re happy to introduce our latest rookie ahead of the 2019 season.
How long, and what, have you been racing?
I have been racing since I was 11 and instantly got hooked! I started out in the Arrive-and-Drive karting program at Mosport. After two years of that, I made the jump to Rotax Senior, competing in the Ron Fellows Karting Challenge and some Eastern Canadian Karting Championship events. My next move was to a road car at age 18, practising in open-time attack days and learning at the Bridgestone Academy as I moved toward my goal of formula cars.
Why racing? How did you get into it?
Well, I remember being in my aunt’s apartment when I was about 8. My dad was flicking through the tv channels and flicked past Formula 1. I instantly fell in love with formula cars and racing. Then I got a copy of Gran Turismo 4, and the rest is history.
Have you been behind the wheel of an F1600 racecar yet?
I tested with Brian Graham Racing at Shannonville last season. It was a perfect day – pouring rain in the morning and a hot dry track by the afternoon – so I really got a good feel for the car in the different conditions. Right away the car was super-responsive and agile. Overall it was very impressive. The L15A7 Honda HPD unit provides a great power-to-weight ratio to support the handling of the car.
What is your number and why did you choose it?
My number for the season is going to be #2. I needed a number to help support my goal of being right up at the front of the field this season!
What track raced has been your favourite?
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, being my home track, I’m definitely going to have to say that. I grew up from the karting track there dreaming of driving on the GP track. When I got the chance, it was something special to me.
What track would you love to race around?
I’m going to have to say the Nurburgring Nordschleife. It’s one of the most challenging tracks in motorsports, with so much history. It’d be amazing to race in an endurance event there.
What is your greatest racing memory, either as a driver or spectator?
One of my fondest memories is when I went to the IMSA race at Mosport, back when it was the American Le Mans series, at the age of nine. It was really my first time seeing race cars in person.
Who is your favourite driver from any generation, and why?
Bruce McLaren. Bruce is one of the reasons why racing is the way it is today. He wasn’t just a driver, he was a pioneer. After winning in Formula 1 he set out to win at the highest levels of motorsports: Le Mans, the Indy 500. He also built his own cars and loved engineering them. He was the complete package in motorsports.
What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?
Being a rookie in the Toyo Tires F1600 series, obviously a championship would be the dream. For myself and the team, we’re going to give it all we’ve got for this season. I’m fairly confident in Brian and the team, and with that being said, I can definitely see us on the podium a few times this year. My goal beyond F1600 is to continue the steps toward a professional motorsport career, whether that’s open-wheel or closed-wheel.