Continuing our feature of drivers competing in this weekend’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout (December 9-10, Bondurant Racing School at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler Arizona), the next competitor we highlight is an exciting talent hailing from Scotland.
Jamie Thorburn, 19, is a regular in the Formula Ford 1600 SuperSeries looking to take the next step in open-wheel racing.
Driving for Cliff Dempsey Racing in the series’ British Championship, Thorburn had a fine season competing at a national level for the first time. “The season as a whole was fantastic,” said the driver from Duns. “This was my first year competing at a national level after winning the Scottish Formula Ford Newcomers Championship in 2016.
“This meant the majority of tracks we raced on were places I’d never driven before, but with the help of my driver coach and engineer I was never off the pace at any event.”
In line with Thorburn’s remarks, he had a great season by normal standards. When considering the unfamiliarity factor in regards to learning circuits not previously visited, Jamie had an even more impressive year.
Finishing fourth in the Formula Ford 1600 British Championship, Thorburn recorded five podium finishes, a fastest lap at Knockhill on June 4th, and a breakthrough victory at Kirkistown in Northern Ireland during the middle of the summer.
“To claim my first race win at Cliff’s (head of Cliff Dempsey Racing) home circuit was something I will never forget,” remarks Thorburn. “Another highlight would be my double podium at my home circuit in Knockhill, Scotland. It was made even sweeter as my family and friends had made the journey up to support me that weekend.”
While Thorburn finished 4th in the British Championship, it was an opportunity to compete in the James Becketts Super Series Shootout which earned him the honor of competing in this year’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout.
Thorburn entered himself in a Champion of Brands Hatch round and eventually won the race while claiming the fastest lap, punching his ticket to the Super Series Shootout. Jamie was nominated alongside five other Formula Ford drivers from various parts of the United Kingdom. The event was held at the famous Silverstone circuit.
“The Shootout tested everything from our speed in a race car to our fitness and media skills. I was then selected as the winner of this shootout and presented with my Mazda Road to Indy Shootout ticket.”
In visiting the states for his first single-seater competition, Thorburn is open to absorbing the experience and using the inevitable lessons learned to advance his career.
“I have no real expectations going into the Shootout,” said the 19-year-old. “Obviously it would be unbelievable to win but there is no doubt that the level of competition will be like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my short time in the sport.
“My main aim going into the week is to go and enjoy every moment of this incredible opportunity, meet as many people as possible and ensure I leave knowing I gave it everything I had.”
Interestingly, Jamie is supported by the Border Reiver’s Racing Team, the same outfit that the legendary Jim Clark began his career with. Growing up in Duns, Scotland, Thorburn spent his childhood living approximately a mile away from Clark’s former residence. When asked about Clark, the young Scot remarks, “he’s been a hero of mine since the first day I jumped in a car.”
While racing in Europe and growing up idolizing Jim Clark can certainly produce aspirations of competing in Formula One, Thorburn is excited for a chance to experience American open-wheel racing for what it has to offer.
“With the MRTI opportunity I have to look at IndyCars as the aim at the moment. Also, to race in Europe is very expensive in comparison to the USA, so it is the most financially viable place to race at the moment.”
Look for Jamie and the 16 additional participants to put on a show for Saturday and Sunday’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for the latest news, results and statistics from the event as we follow the stars of tomorrow through the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.