Keep an eye out for the name Jake Donaldson over the next few years because you might just see him making it all the way to Formula 1.
The Australian is the country’s youngest ever Junior National Australian Speedway Kart Champion. He is a two-time winner of the national title, winning the Junior National Light in 2014 and Junior National Heavy crowns in 2015. He is also the winner of the inaugural Cool Driver Junior Super Series in 2015.
Now 17, Jake is already taking on and beating Australia’s best in the national Formula Ford scene. In 2016 Jake became one of the youngest drivers to ever win in Formula Ford in his rookie season, aged just 14.
Jake’s vision is to make a career out of a sport that he clearly loves and hopes one day he can take on the world’s best. He spoke exclusively to the MotorsportM8 team.
What was the support of your family during the formative years of your racing career?
My family has continually supported me so far through my career, through Go-Karts and now into Formula Ford helping me obtain sponsors and always supporting me on and off the track.
Who were your first motorsport heroes? What was significant about their achievements or character that you admired?
My first motorsport hero was Ayrton Senna. Senna had such a masterful skill which no other driver has had up to this current day. What really intrigued me in looking up to Ayrton Senna as my hero was his determination to win. Having the mindset of wanting to win at all cost really moved me, thus making me want to achieve the same.
What did your many achievements in competitive karting mean to you?
I started off in speedway go-karts which was the path I took at the time. Whilst being fun, my skillset was set up for the wrong type of motorsport.
In my time of karting on speedway I won two Australian titles, NSW State Champion and Queensland State Champion. While at the time it was really good and a massive confidence boost, my achievements have made me competitive as a Formula Ford driver.
Switching from karting to open-wheel racing cars would be a significant transition. What significant changes have you made to your driving style to adapt to this transition?
The big changes were learning how to change gears with a gear stick and adapting to not being able to see the whole car at all times. The competition level, especially in national Formula Ford, has been the most significant transition compared to go-karts.
What key lessons have helped you as you move up the motorsport ladder?
Determination was the main lesson which I learned. To always do my best regardless of the situation has helped me move up the competitive scale in motorsport. Currently sitting in seventh in the National field I am determined to make my way into the top-five in the National field by the end of the season.
What targets are you setting for yourself in 2018?
Winning a race or round in National Formula Ford would be my main target; I want to be consistently finishing in the top 3 or 5 in the National field.
Social media is an important way to build a fan base. How do you approach your interaction with fans?
I appreciate my fans on all platforms of social media. I keep in contact with all of them and will especially reply to all messages. Simple things such as thanking them for their support and replying to questions are the main ways to give back, but I also do giveaways of photos or signed merchandise as an extra appreciation for their support.
What is your most favourite circuit at which you have raced so far, and why? What circuits are on your ‘bucket list’ to race on?
Winton Motor Raceway. This is currently my favourite circuit as I was quite competitive at the National round, finishing fifth in the final race of the weekend to end on a very happy note.
Racing on all circuits around the world would really be my ‘bucket list’ as they would be amazing to experience.
What are your future career goals?
Like every kid my goals are to make it to Formula 1. My realistic goal is to become a professional race car driver, racing cars for a living around the world.
How can fans and corporate sponsors get behind you and provide further support for your career?
Fans can become one of my ‘team mates’ – for more information please visit my Facebook page. Also feel free to contact me on Facebook by either sending me messages or leaving comments.
Corporate sponsors can visit my website in order to get in contact with me for sponsorship and further support my career.
Images via Matthew Paul Photography (supplied by Jake Donaldson)