Catching Up With 2020 Scholarship Driver Prescott Campbell
 February 26, 2020| 
  • Series News
Prescott Feature Feb 2020

The multi-faceted Californian won a scholarship into the series with his victory in the 2019 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series

He has won two racing scholarships, written a children’s book, presented 3D automotive designs at SEMA, begun motorsports engineering studies and joined the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, all before the age of 19 – making Exclusive Autosport’s Prescott Campbell one of the more intriguing storylines of the 2020 racing season.

Campbell was born in Orange County, Calif., but lived in Singapore until he was 7 because of his father’s work. He can trace much of his current passions – racing and engineering – to his parents. Both engineers, they were the source of Campbell’s technical interest while watching Formula One races together in Singapore that lit a spark in the youngster.

“My dad used to race Formula Fords in Northern California and he’s always been interested in racing,” said Campbell. “From the moment I started watching racing, I wanted to do it myself. When we came back to the U.S., I started racing cadet karts, then graduated to the junior categories in shifter karts.”

Photo Dec 14, 2 45 44 PMMoving up through the karting ranks, Campbell began to look at avenues to move into car racing when the perfect opportunity entered the picture: the inaugural Cooper Tires Karting Scholarship Shootout, held in late 2018 in collaboration with the Lucas Oil School of Racing. Campbell applied to be a part of the 30-driver field competing on and off-track for the scholarship and emerged as the winner, earning a fully funded season in the 2019 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series and putting the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires on his radar.

“This was really the chance we were looking for. I managed to win the scholarship and because of that scholarship, so many other things have come my way. It was the first time that I really believed there was an opportunity for me to pursue a career as a race car driver.”

9-4 Team USA Shootout 2019 739aIn addition to competing in the Lucas School series, Campbell was one of six drivers chosen to compete for the prestigious Team USA Scholarship and the chance to race formula cars in England. While he was not named as one of the two recipients, the competitive environment and that chance to receive feedback and advice from the panel of judges helped propel his season.

“I was honored to be chosen as one of the finalists, and I appreciate the experience. It came as such a surprise, especially given the situation I was dealing with at the time. To have a goal and something to focus on really helped!”

9-4 Team USA Shootout 2019 219aThe “situation” Campbell was dealing with during the summer was the aftereffects of his first major racing setback. A broken femur sustained while training for a national karting event put him out of action, threatening his entire racing season. For those around Campbell, and indeed, observers of the Lucas School series, his reaction to the accident and determination to get back into a race car proved his maturity and resolve. Campbell relays those moments in a matter-of-fact style: in his mind, there was clearly no other option.

“Because we had three dropped races, and I was going to miss exactly three races, I knew I still had a chance if I could get right back into the car. I pushed as hard as I could in physical therapy, and I got the go-ahead to start putting my foot on the ground just in time. I was still on crutches when I got back into the car, but I could use the throttle, so it was fine. And I had one of my best weekends of the year: set a new track record, took both poles and won my first race back. I’d had no expectations for the weekend, but my leg didn’t bother me at all, so I knew then that the championship was still possible.”

IMG_2801Campbell entered the final race weekend in fifth position in the title chase, but three podiums at Sebring, including a victory, secured him the championship win – and the $75,000 scholarship toward a ride in USF2000.

“In that comeback, from breaking my leg and the difficulties that presented, I really learned a lot about myself and the people around me, and how much they’re willing to support me. From my family – my mom, dad and my sister – to my Lucas school family, they kept my hopes up.”

During that summer to remember, Campbell was introduced to Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe, and when the time came to decide on a USF2000 team, he chose the Canadian squad. Campbell will join Braden Eves (Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires, his Exclusive Autosport teammate) and Kyle Kirkwood (driving for Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) as the 2020 Road to Indy scholarship drivers. Now that he is on the Road to Indy, Campbell hopes to continue his trajectory up the ladder – straight to the NTT IndyCar Series.

“I am extremely excited to be a part of Exclusive Autosport’s growth into all three rungs on the Road to Indy ladder. I cannot thank Michael Duncalfe enough for this opportunity and am looking forward to a season of learning and success with the team. IndyCar is where I want to be, especially right now, with the opportunities that young drivers have, and the Road to Indy has a clear path to that goal. One of the things that makes the Road to Indy so unique and so attractive to drivers from around the world is the scholarship opportunities, to have the chance to advance into the top tier of motorsport. You don’t see that anywhere else.

“My goal is to win the championship, and the scholarship opportunity. I’m coming from a very different series but I’m happy with how I’ve performed in testing. I’ll be happy to run near the front early in the season, but the goal is to win!”

But Campbell’s sole focus is not just on his racing future – the young Californian has plenty of goals off track as well. Campbell published a book in 2018 (Austin’s Automotive Adventure) designed to inspire children to follow their passions through education, and he lives that example now, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering. But not just any engineering degree: Campbell will be commuting to Road to Indy events this spring from England, as he attends Oxford Brookes University for its motorsports engineering program.

IMG-20200226-WA0000“This is unlike any school in the world, and this curriculum is unique especially given its industry connections. I’m getting specific experience as well as part of the formula student team, where we’re building our own autocross formula car to compete against other schools. I’m able to work with students of all different nationalities and years, including master’s students, and I can hone my CAD skills.

Campbell has employed those computer skills to give back to his community as well. Working with YEP (Youth, Entrepreneurship and Programming) for Kids, he helped elementary school students learn coding, which helps them learn critical thinking, logic and problem solving.

image (1)“Teaching myself certain software and learning CAD at a young age really opened doors for me. Because of my CAD knowledge, I got an internship at a 3D printing company (Airwolf 3D) designing a center console panel among other interior parts for the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which I presented at SEMA and were displayed at CES. To do that at such a young age continues to open doors. I really believe that once you expose yourself to what your passion is, doors continue to open, one after another.”

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