As the start of the 2021 season comes ever closer, the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship welcomes its sixth new driver and fourth rookie to the paddock. Jake Cowden, of Aurora, Ontario, was recently announced to be joining the Britain West Motorsport stable to pilot the #66 Mygale/Honda. The sixteen-year-old has followed a traditional path to formula cars, beginning with arrive-and-drive karting before getting his own package and moving up through Junior and into Senior. The seven-year experience culminated with a KartStars Championship a year ago, and also afforded him the opportunity to test both an F1600 car and a NASCAR Pinty’s car at Shannonville Motorsport Park last fall. A racer in every sense, Cowden enjoys the challenge of competition and will race on skis, snowmobiles, karts, cars and likely even more. Formula1600.com recently met with the new recruit to get more details.
How long, and what, have you been racing?
I raced karts at the club level for five years. For four of those five years I also raced at the national level. I am a four-cycle racer and I have raced two-cycle as well. I enjoy four-cycle racing more because it is very close racing. If you make a single mistake, you can lose many positions. In the winter I also race ice oval snowmobiles and downhill ski race with my high school.
Why racing? How did you get into it?
When I was around four years old my dad did Arrive-and-Drive at Goodwood Kartways. He used to bring home medals and I really wanted to race to earn a medal. I then did Goodwood’s great Arrive-and-Drive program for two years before I got my own kart and began to race at the club level in 2016.
Have you driven an F1600 car before this season starts?
I did a test last fall with Britain West Motorsport at Shannonville, and I instantly knew that car racing is for me.
What is your # and why did you choose it?
My number in the Toyo Tires F1600 Series will be 66. This number was chosen by the team. In karting I always had the digit 9 in my number. The overall number switched depending on the category I was competing in but it always had a 9. It’s my favourite number.
What track raced/driven has been your favourite?
I have been super fortunate to race karts at six different tracks in Ontario: Canadian Mini Indy in Hamilton is challenging, Sutton, Innisfil and Brechin, but my two favourite tracks are Goodwood and Mosport Kartways. They have very competitive programs and each of these tracks gave me the opportunity to develop my skills.
What track are you looking forward to racing/driving this year?
I am looking forward to racing at Mosport on the Grand Prix track. When racing karts at Mosport Kartways, I could always see and hear the cars going around the track, and I dreamed of racing a car around there one day.
What is your greatest racing memory, either as a driver or spectator?
My favourite racing memory is from last fall at Shannonville, when I got to drive Anthony Simone’s NASCAR Pinty’s series car. Winning KartStars Canadian Nationals got me the test, and Anthony Simone created a day I will never forget. It was very generous of him. I loved how all the power I could ever want was under my right foot. I learned a lot about car control that day and realized how loud it is in a race car.
Who is your favourite driver from any generation and why?
My favourite driver is Jeff Kingsley, who is racing in the IMSA Weathertech series this year. I look up to him because he raced F1600 as well, and is now racing GT3 cars. In 2016 we were on the same kart team, and I got to know him. He is a really kind person, and gave me lots of helpful advice.
What are your plans after high school?
My plan for after high school is to go into a trade. I am currently in my school’s co-operative education program full time. My placement is at an automotive and machine shop. I get to work on cars and I love it.
What are your goals for racing in 2021 and beyond?
My goal for the 2021 season is to learn as much as I can, and to earn the Rookie-of-the-Year Award. My overall racing goal is to be a professional race car driver.