Meet 23-Year-Old American Racer Oliver Askew
A few years into Oliver Askew’s racing career, he skidded toward retirement. The sport had become too expensive for Askew’s family; after selling their boat and taking out a second mortgage on their home, they couldn’t afford to support their son much longer. That’s when he got picked up by the world-recognized Ocala Gran Prix (OGP) team, which would drive his racing career to places he could only dream of.
“Racing is one of the most expensive sports,” Askew says. “Once I joined OGP, I started racing nationally, qualifying for championships and meeting world-class professional drivers. It completely transformed my career.”
A little over a decade later, Askew, 23, signed to Arrow McLaren SP’s 2020 driver line-up after winning the championship title in the 2019 Indy Lights series, which earned him a $1.1 million scholarship for this year and guaranteed him entry in the Indy 500 and two other IndyCar races. In March, Askew will take to the road for his first race of the season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“My goal for the last decade has been to become an IndyCar driver,” Askew says. “Now I’ll be a rookie next season, which means I have to come up with a few more goals. Of course, I want to win a race, which would be a huge accomplishment. This racing series is probably the most competitive in the world.”
Born in Melbourne, Florida, and raised in Jupiter, Askew started racing when he was 7 years old after his father gifted him an afternoon of go-karting at the Palm Beach International Raceway.
“Racing doesn’t run in the family,” Askew says. “My dad thought it could be a fun father-son bonding activity. None of us knew it would lead to this, but my parents have been completely supportive ever since. They know how rare it is to find your passion at such a young age.”
About a year later, Askew started racing regionally and slowly progressed through local ranks. After he was picked up by OGP, Askew won numerous races and accolades, including a $200,000 Road to Indy scholarship, which earned him a ride in the 2017 USF2000 Championship.
“You know, I’ve been asked for advice before,” Askew says. “I got a late start into racing. I didn’t throw myself out there and get people to notice me until I was a bit older. It’s important for drivers to be well-rounded and approachable. It’s as much about how you present yourself on the track and off.”