As the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout (December 9-10 at the Bondurant Racing School, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona) draws nearer, we continue with the third installment in our MRTI driver spotlight series.
Today Open-Wheels details a driver from the United Kingdom by the name of Matt Cowley.
Cowley, born in Greater Manchester and currently splitting time between England and Tampa, Florida, spent the 2017 season in the USAC F1600 Formula F Championship Series.
Making 20 starts throughout the campaign, Matthew recorded 17 podium finishes, 3 poles and 6 victories on the way to a 2017 series championship in F1600. He beat out Team USA Scholarship driver Jonathan Kotyk in the points and never finished lower than fifth place in a competition this past year.
In racing for the respected Team Pelfrey, Cowley notes 2017 as an important step in his driving career with noticeable consistency and improvement from years prior.
“My biggest breakthrough for 2017 was having the opportunity to transition from a ‘dad and lad’ team racing Formula Ford in the UK (in 2016) to racing in America in a different car, with a different engine on untested, iconic, world-famous circuits that required me to learn completely different racing strategies.”
Adding to his F1600 championship duties, Cowley had the opportunity to compete at the 2017 SCCA Runoffs, hosted at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Racing six times in the Formula Ford division, the British hot shoe recorded four podium finishes and won the Formula Ford class.
In winning both the USAC F1600 Formula F Championship and the SCCA Runoffs, Cowley punched his ticket to this weekend’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout with the opportunity to win a $200,000 scholarship and entry to the 2018 USF2000 championship.
Looking to create more opportunities to race in the United States, the MRTI Shootout provides a unique and clear cut path to greater competition that Cowley certainly covets.
“The MRTI Shootout provides a unique, global opportunity for aspiring professional drivers to win a scholarship, putting them on the first step of a recognized ladder series with the ultimate opportunity of racing in IndyCar,” says the 20-year-old. “As with all the other candidates competing for the scholarship, I will love to win.”
Not only a fine driver, Cowley is studying to earn a mechanical engineering degree through distance learning and is also an ambassador of The Shaw Mind Foundation. While not in the car, Cowley spends time with current Chip Ganassi World Endurance Championship driver Andy Priaulx working at iZone, a driver development center at the Silverstone circuit.
With additional simulator time as well as fitness work, Cowley recognizes the benefits of spending time at iZone. “This work has enhanced both my driving capability and mental agility,” he says. “I continued with cardiovascular work and cognitive skills development when in the U.S. as well as simulator training in the U.K.”
While he shows a humble and conservative approach, look for Cowley to be one of the prime candidates to win the $200,000 scholarship and a spot in USF2000 next season.
“I am hoping that my proven experience of coming from overseas for a successful racing season and gaining an understanding of living in the USA during 2017 helps me,” remarks Cowley. “All I can do is be the best that I can be and demonstrate that I will be a successful driver and ambassador for the Mazda Road to Indy program.”
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com as we document the events during 2017’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, held December 9-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
Photos courtesy of Matt Cowley Racing.