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Hawksworth Homecoming: Returning to Site of His First IMSA Race and Win

A Prototype Challenge Class Victory at Indy in 2014 Initiated the Path to His Success in Sports Car Racing


By Mark Robinson


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If there were a contest this week for the popular social media “How it started/How it’s going” theme, Jack Hawksworth would be the hands-down winner as he returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


What began as a “why not” one-off IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opportunity in 2014 at the famed track has evolved into Hawksworth becoming a mainstay in one of the strongest programs in the paddock on the verge of capturing the driver, team and manufacturer titles in the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class.


Hawksworth shares the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 with co-driver Ben Barnicoat. They boast a 144-point class lead heading to the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks this weekend at IMS, the spoils of finishing on the podium in all but one of the first nine races this season, including a pair of wins. Should they follow through on the championships, they would be the first for drivers, team and manufacturer.


Hawksworth, the 32-year-old Englishman, has been a pillar of the Lexus program since its 2017 inception. That might not have been the case, however, had he not taken a chance agreeing to run in his first IMSA race three years earlier at Indy.


In the midst of his rookie IndyCar Series season in 2014, Hawksworth was asked to race a Prototype Challenge (PC) car for RSR Racing in the WeatherTech Championship race that July. RSR owner Paul Gentilozzi had been impressed with Hawksworth’s performance in the IndyCar race on the IMS road course in May, when he qualified second and led 31 laps before finishing seventh.


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Despite no previous prototype racing experience, Hawksworth was offered and accepted the ride alongside co-driver Chris Cumming for the WeatherTech Championship event. And despite no track time until race weekend, Hawksworth thrived. He recalls running in fourth or fifth place on the last stint and charging to the front – passing Bruno Junqueira in RSR’s other PC entry with a few minutes left in the race – to win in his IMSA debut.


“I remember it being a bit mad, to be honest,” Hawksworth remembered this week. “This thing had come up so last minute and then I’ve not done a sports car race before … then winning and I’m like, ‘Wow, that was quite the weekend!’ It was an amazing weekend and really good memories from it, and the way it worked out long run has kind of been amazing as well.”


Amazing, indeed. As he focused on his IndyCar career, Hawksworth continued dabbling in the sports car scene, running six more PC races from 2014-16 with RSR and Starworks. With his driving career at a crossroads at the end of 2016, Hawksworth opted to launch into the ground floor of the new Lexus program that debuted in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in 2017. The team? 3GT Racing, operated by Gentilozzi.


Hawksworth spent two seasons with 3GT before the Lexus program shifted to Vasser Sullivan. With 10 GTD and GTD PRO wins since 2019, it’s safe to say he’s the face of the program now. But he remains grateful for that initial break that came out of the blue nine years ago – also the last time IMSA raced in Indianapolis prior to this weekend’s return.


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“I always look back and think it’s amazing where one race and one moment can lead you,” he said. “It’s like the butterfly effect, like one thing happens and then that can lead you to a completely different destination to maybe the one you thought you were on at the time, but an equally good one. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the start of my kind of journey with Lexus as well.


“I had no idea at that point that I’d be racing for Lexus off the back of that the best part of 10 years later and be in the position I am now going back to racing in Indy for the first time in IMSA since 2014,” Hawksworth added. “We’re now in a position to fight for the championship in the GTD PRO category and that all originally stems from that one race I did back in 2014. It’s kind of cool and it’s kind of come full circle in a way.”


The return of Hawksworth and the WeatherTech Championship to Indianapolis begins with a practice at 4:40 p.m. ET Friday. A second practice starts at 8:55 a.m. Saturday, ahead of qualifying at 1 p.m. that afternoon (livestream on Peacock and IMSA.com). The two-hour, 40-minute race airs live at 1 p.m. Sunday on NBC.