Ayrton Houk: The Trip of a Lifetime

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Published on September 23, 2023 with No Comments

Readying to leave home and travel to London.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For those who may not know me, my name is Ayrton Houk (pronounced “Howk”). I have always had a knack for speed; however, it has not always been on four wheels. I grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis, and being from a city synonymous with racing has definitely played a part in my upbringing, especially my name!

Before I go into my racing background here are a couple of things “non-speedy” about me. I have always loved being outdoors. Yellow is my favorite color and it was the first word I ever said. Beyond racing I enjoy weightlifting, video making (though I am very new to it), cycling, being with friends and family, and food. I am currently a finance student at Purdue University. My thrill for speed stemmed from my father, a competitive off road motorcycle racer who inspired me at a young age to compete. He was an avid Formula 1 fan and named me after Ayrton Senna. From the beginning my father had plans of getting me into a car.

I started off racing off road motor cycles.

Growing up I would beg for a dirt bike; however, my parents, concerned for my safety looked for proof that I was capable. They told me that once I could ride my pedal bike without training wheels, they would purchase a dirt bike for me. That very day I went out and practiced until I could ride my pedal bike around my neighborhood. I was only 3 years old. The following year I began competing on the motorcycle and was fully involved in motorcycle racing until I turned 12 when my career took a change. I had found photos of my father racing shifter karts, and had never wanted to try something more in my life. I truly believed that it was the coolest thing ever. My father told me that if we go down this path, I would have to be 100 percent invested and I told him that I was ready to make that jump.

Karting was always a family affair.

At the start, we competed out of the back of our pickup truck using saw horses for our kart stand and racing almost every weekend at our local tracks, Whiteland Raceway Park and New Castle Motorsports Park. We never competed nationally, though the talent at most of these races was very competitive at the WKA and SKUSA races.

In 2019 I took my first laps in a racecar at Road America and was invited to compete at the Lucas Oil School of Racing Scholarship Shootout for a full season in their championship series. I did not win the scholarship but did learn a ton about how to navigate the ladder of open wheel racing. In 2020, we decided to try out a season in oval racing in the Mel Kenyon Midget series while also taking our first steps into an F1600 with Brad Hayes Racing. Both seasons were cut short due to COVID, but in 2021 we focused on a full Kenyon Midget season and attending the required races to compete in the SCCA Runoffs in Formula Ford (F1600). I ended up with a top 10 in the SCCA Runoffs and winning the Kenyon Midget series, both with Brad Hayes racing. I also competed in and won the Lucas Oil Scholarship Shootout that year.

Midget legend Mel Kenyon has been a great mentor.

In 2022, I competed in the Lucas Oil School of Racing championship and completed my first full season in F1600 with Team Pelfrey, accomplishing multiple wins and podiums in each and finishing second in the F1600 Championship Series and third in the Lucas Oil School of Racing championship. In 2023 I competed once again in a F1600 season with Rice Race Prep securing three wins and multiple podiums while also competing part-time in the USSA Kenyon Midget Series (after my father purchased our own car) and winning four of the six races we entered.

Another successful F1600 season with Greg Rice (Yazer Design Studio).

When I was invited to compete in the Team USA Scholarship shootout this year, I was excited to be given the chance to represent my country and be added to such a successful list of winners of the scholarship. This year’s shootout was a fun and complex variety of wet, damp and dry sessions that added a challenging aspect to it. I had a ton of fun at Polecat Training Center learning how those cars like to be driven in the varying conditions and feel well prepared for how to adapt to the new feel of the Ammonite FF1600 cars.

I am very excited to travel overseas, as this will be my first time out of the country! I cannot wait to learn about the lifestyle over there and driving techniques used in the British Formula Fords. Over the past few weeks, I have been gathering up all my gear and clothes as well as receiving some fantastic new gear from Billy Deakins at Sparco USA and sleek Team USA merch from Steve Welk at Styled Aesthetic.

Sim time at Brands Hatch with RaceCraft1.

While preparing for the new tracks and cars, my teammate Jack Sullivan and I were given the opportunity to receive professional sim training from Kelly Jones at RaceCraft1 in downtown Indianapolis. We spent three days training with him and even got a quick run in with former INDYCAR and current IMSA driver, Ed Jones. I believe that the practice and advice Jack and I have received will be extremely beneficial in our transition into the new cars.

I cannot thank everybody behind the Team USA Scholarship, including Jeremy Shaw, Sparco USA, Styled Aesthetic and Kelly Jones at RaceCraft1 enough for getting us here and all of the work they have put in so far in this process of getting over to the UK! I am currently en route to London and looking forward to meeting Andy Low and the Ammonite Motorsport team. We have a busy first week and I will be sure to update everybody along this exciting journey!

Until next time,
Ayrton Houk

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