How did one thrill-seeker become the youngest ever British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC) member to win the IndyLights championship? Dubai-born racing driver Ed Jones shares his secrets for success with Vision
In December 2016, racing stars gathered in London’s Covent Garden for the British Racing Drivers Club Awards, to honour the very best in motor racing achievement.
Sir Stirling Moss OBE, Nigel Mansell CBE and Damon Hill OBE, watched as a new generation of elite drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Riccardo and Lance Stroll, received their plaudits and awards.
Among the crowd sat 21-year-old Dubai-born Briton Ed Jones, who waited patiently until his name was announced as winner of the Earl Howe Trophy, presented to the most successful BRDC Member racing in North America.
Jones was being honoured for becoming the youngest BRDC member ever to have lifted IndyLights laurels - the feeder circuit to America’s historic IndyCar Series. He won in the entire championship in 2016, in an enthralling head-to-head battle against Santiago Urrutia and on only his second attempt.
Winning the championship secured him a US$1m prize fund, which will be used to support him as he makes the step up to Indycar, where this year he will be racing for the Dale Coyne team starting in March.
“It’s a great honour to be awarded the Earl Howe Trophy,” Jones told Vision. “Just looking at the incredible roll call of drivers to have won it in the past like Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti is truly inspirational, and it’s amazing to have now added my name alongside theirs.
“It will be good to get properly down to business and begin preparing in earnest for 2017.”
This passion will come as no surprise to those who know Ed in the UAE, having watched him race go-karts as a four-year-old around Dubai’s Jebel Ali racetrack and rise rapidly through the ranks to become the best racing driver in the UAE.
He won the National UAE karting championship in 2006, aged 11, opening the floodgates to six further UAE titles and further victories internationally where he found himself racing against current Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon.
He has tasted success at every step of his young journey so far, winning the 2013 F3 European Open Championship and becoming the youngest person ever to do so when he finally made the transition from karting to cars.
This year will be one of his biggest challenges yet. Indycars race at speeds averaging 230mph on road and street circuits, as well as their iconic high-speed ovals, but Ed is determinedly looking forward to what lies ahead.
"Dale Coyne, the [team] owner, used to race IndyCar and it’s nice to have a team owner who loves the sport and has been through it himself. His team have brought a lot of other young riders through the rank and my teammate is Sebastien Bourdais, who has won IndyCar three times. If ever I was going in to my first season as an Indycar rookie, he’s the guy I would want as a teammate. I can learn so much from him and really improve quickly. I’m in the perfect position. I can’t wait to climb back behind the wheel."