Jake Eidson may not be a well-known racer yet, but he will be.
The 17-year-old Colorado native is coming off an astounding year in Skip Barber competition in which he won both the Skip Barber Summer and Winter championships. Now, looking to make the move into USF2000, Eidson recently discussed his past season and his future racing goals with JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com.
Make the jump to read the full interview with Jake Eidson.
Jake: I first started racing in karts and just did a few local races but as time went on, I started doing better and won a few races and even won the regional championship in Rotax Jr. After my second season of karting, my parents and I got to a point where we didn’t really know where to go, if we should go to Rotax Sr., or even shifters, and my mom said, “why don’t you try cars,” so immediately we found the Skip Barber Racing School.
I was able to do the 3-Day School at Sebring and at that point, it was the best three days of my life. After finishing the 3-Day School, I participated in the 2010 Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After participating in that, I learned a lot of valuable information in racing that I never knew before. Shortly after, I competed in the Skip Barber Winter Western Series. My goal was to finish the championship in the top five and I actually finished fourth, and was awarded Rookie of the Year, so we were very pleased with my performance. I went on to do a few races in the Skip Barber Summer Series, and competed in my second full season of Skip Barber in the Winter Series. I was fortunate enough to win the championship. Right after, I went on to compete in the Skip Barber Summer Series and used everything I learned from the Winter Series to be able to win the Summer Series Championship as well.
JOWT: After graduating from karts to cars via the Skip Barber Racing School, you entered the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship in 2010. What was your biggest challenge in the move from karts to cars?
Jake: My biggest challenge in moving from karts to cars, was adapting to the suspension. When I first drove the Skip Barber car, I didn’t realize how important the weight transfer was in a race car, until I actually drove one and experienced it myself.
JOWT: After an extremely successful start to your open-wheel career in the Skip Barber Western Series, you earned a $10,000 scholarship in the 2011 Skip Barber Champions Shootout. The scholarship, in a sense, was the catalyst for your breakout season in 2012. It was a hard-fought year against some extremely talented drivers. What “racing” moment stands out the most from 2012?
Jake: I would have to say that the most memorable moment of 2012 occurred at Lime Rock after finishing the Summer Series and clinching the Championship. Then I remembered at the very beginning of the winter season… I was talking to my dad and asked if he had to wish what series I could win (winter or summer), which one it would be? He told me both. To be able to achieve that was extremely memorable.
JOWT: You had some good battles with Danilo Estrela in the fight for the Winter Series championship — eventually coined ‘The Battle of the Es.” How did you stay focused and close the 21-point gap in the final two weekends?
Jake: Throughout the Winter Series, I seemed to have been able to finish 2nd or 3rd consistently but never win a race. After some time, I was getting very frustrated and after every race I became more and more determined to win the next race. Finally at the second to last round at Mazda Raceway, I was able to win both races and close a 21-point gap to put me into the lead of the Skip Barber Winter Series.
JOWT: After winning the Winter Series you transitioned into the Summer Series championship. What championship, in your mind, stands out more and why?
Jake: I would have to say that neither championship stands out more, because both were very special in its own way. The Winter Series was very memorable because it was the first Skip Barber Championship that I have ever won. The Summer Series was also very special because my dream of winning both championships back-to-back had come true.
JOWT: Who was your toughest competitor in 2012? And why?
Jake: I honestly can’t say who was the toughest competitor in either season because there were so many talented drivers. It was so much fun being able to race against them because every weekend you really couldn’t tell who was going to win. The competition was just so close.
JOWT: Based on your performance in 2012, you became one of eight finalists for the prestigious Team USA Scholarship. Tell us about your experience in the race simulator and the FR 1600 cars at Fontana Speedway.
Jake: To be selected as a candidate for the Team USA Scholarship was a huge honor as well as to be selected as a finalist. We were able to race on the CXC simulators which were extremely fun and realistic. The next day, we went to Fontana and drove the Alan Berg Racing School cars. The schedule for the day was practice, qualify, and race. Throughout that day I learned a lot, whether it was the track, the cars, or how to improve my driving. I took a lot of valuable information from those two days.
JOWT: As part of the Mazda Road to Indy, the USF2000 National Championship offered you a test in the 2012 Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for winning the Skip Barber Series. You were classified as the fourth quickest driver (out of 21) in Day 2. Tell us about the test. Describe the transition from a Skip Barber car to the Belardi Auto Racing USF2000 machine. (Ride onboard with Jake during the test, here.)
Jake: One of the great opportunities that the Mazda Road to Indy provides, was a chance for the winner of the Skip Barber Winter and Summer Series a day at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After winning both series, I was fortunate enough to test both days with the Belardi Auto Racing team. The team did an amazing job setting up the car to make it as fast as possible and I think that was main reason why we were only a tenth of a second off of the fastest lap time.
JOWT: What are your racing goals for the upcoming season? And what are your long-term racing goals?
Jake: My current goal is to focus on the Skip Barber Champion Shootout and just do the best I can possibly do. If the shootout doesn’t work out then we have several other plans for the 2013 season but can’t make any commitments until after the shootout. My ultimate long-term goal is to climb the Mazda Road to Indy and become an IndyCar driver.
JOWT: What hobbies, outside of racing, do you enjoy?
Jake: Outside of racing I enjoy exercising, snowboarding, fishing, iRacing, and tennis.
JOWT: Do you have a fitness routine that you follow to stay sharp? If so, describe it.
Jake: My typical work-out routine is every other day I go to the gym and exercise, and every day I don’t go to the gym, I go for a run.
JOWT: Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview. We’re looking forward to watching your upcoming progress in the open-wheel ranks. Best of luck in 2013 and beyond.