“You like the obstacles I placed on the straight?” Oliver Askew asked with a laugh.
The karting phenom, winner of the 2019 Indy Lights championship, had an unhealthy amount of unspent energy to discharge last weekend when his NTT IndyCar Series debut was delayed after the COVID-19 virus forced the cancellation of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
Arrow McLaren SP’s young charger, a Florida native, relied on his next-best option by heading north in the sunshine state to the city of Ocala and the Ocala Grand Prix karting circuit. With a rocket-fast kart at his disposal and a desire to document the savagery with a GoPro mounted to his helmet, Askew went on a tear (see video below). We’ll let the 23-year-old take the story from here.
“Ocala Gran Prix is the team that I raced for from 2010 to 2015, and they kick-started my career,” he told RACER. “They took me under their wing before my dad had to call it, because it got too expensive, basically. So I was very lucky to have been a part of that program, and I’m very lucky to have kept that relationship strong. And they’ve kept the doors open for me whenever I needed to get some seat time.
“So I called right after the race was canceled in St. Pete and asked if I could come up, because of this cancellation, and I just wanted to drive something. They said, ‘Yeah, the doors are open, the keys are yours.’ So I’m very lucky to have that option and definitely took advantage of it
“I’ve done a million laps there, so I had the idea of making my own configuration — I went out and let my imagination take over. I want it to be refreshing, and be a new challenge to me. So I went out and designed my own corner, basically, which was kind of cool. And then I had the idea of putting a chicane down the fastest portion of the track…”
Watching Askew work up to speed on the improvised layout, and creep towards going flat through the top-speed chicane, makes for anxiety-filled viewing.
“We had the engine, made by Vortex out of Italy — one of the fastest engines you can get — set on ‘kill’…plus I was running without ballast weight, so I was worried, because the engine was completely topped out going into that chicane…I was worried that the motor was going to stick, and then I’d be backwards into the barrier,” he said with another laugh.
“But, luckily, that didn’t happen.”