My Mazda Road to Indy: Meet Jordan Cane

A weekly series providing an inside look at new faces on the Mazda Road to Indy, the only driver development program of its type in the world.
PALMETTO, Fla. – At a mere 14 years of age, Brit Jordan Cane turned some heads last year in his first season in a car (and only his fourth year racing) as he earned seven F1600 victories for Team Pelfrey despite missing the first two events due to age restrictions. This year Cane, who was brought up just a few miles from the Goodwood circuit in England, will step up to the Mazda Road to Indy, competing for Team Pelfrey in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
You were 11 when the racing bug hit with a trip to Goodwood?
I’d always loved cars, but I never thought of racing. I was 8 years old when I first encountered the Festival of Speed at Goodwood. I went again when I was 11, and that sealed the deal for me. I wanted to take this up as just a hobby at first. I wanted to do pit biking (motocross) because my best mate was going to buy a pit bike, but my dad said no because he’d really hurt himself on a dirt bike when he was young. He asked if I’d ever thought of karting, and that’s where the seed was planted. We went to a cadet course at Thruxton every Sunday for a month. In the first session, I was the slowest on track. But at the second session, I broke the track record. I took the test for a license and my hobby turned into a career.
Take us through your racing career to date.  
After the cadet course, I won a club cadet championship. That helped us make the decision to go into the top level of British karting. We switched mid-season to a Mini Max because I got too big for the cadet kart. I won a couple of races and finished 10th out of 33 karts despite a good amount of bad luck. We decided to make the move to cars at that point going to Skip Barber courses.
It was quite a big shock. You have much bigger surroundings and the car is much faster than a kart. Everything is maximized in a car, but Skip Barber taught in a way that got the best out of me. After three days at Road Atlanta and two days at Lime Rock, I felt very confident in myself and I felt that I could compete in cars. It made the feeling that I wanted to be a race car driver even stronger.
How did you connect with Team Pelfrey?
It’s a funny story, and it shows that it’s a very small world. My very first karting mechanic had tested with Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda and he recommended that I contact them. That’s how the relationship started. From the first test, we bonded really well. I was 10 times more confident at the test because of the Skip Barber program. I signed with them to do F1600 and everything just went from there. The team felt I had potential to win races, so we signed with them.
You had a very good year in F1600 even though you missed the first two race weekends.
You have to be 14 to run in F1600, so I missed the first two events. It was quite hard to get used to running with 20 other cars, but we got there in the end. We had two fifth-place finishes the first weekend at Virginia and the season went upwards from there. I finished fifth in the first race of the Mid-Ohio weekend and won the second one, which was the first race win of the season for the team. We ended up with seven wins and 10 podiums at the end of the season, which was a huge confidence booster for me and for the team.
Obviously it’s a natural progression from F1600, especially with Team Pelfrey, but what attracted you to the Mazda Road to Indy and the USF2000 series?
I think the Mazda Road to Indy offers something no other racing series does which is the scholarship program. You can’t get that anywhere else and that’s what persuaded me and my dad to race here for another two years, to fight for the championship. If you look at where I was two years ago, it’s been a game changer for me. On the American path, IndyCar is definitely the goal.
How difficult has it been to be away from home? It’s a big transition, coming to the States.
My parents bought a vacation house in Florida before I was born and we spent our summers here so we’re not your typical tourists. This is more like our second home. It was hard at first, almost like a different culture, but we did it at such a young age that we bonded with American culture. We go back and forth from America to England for every race, so it’s a bit of a jump. We have a lot of air miles! I go to a regular public school at home and they’ve really supported me, even though I will miss 75 days of school this year. The work piles up, and I have to catch up no matter where I am. It’s hard being away from home, because my family is everything to me. And I’m in the gym five times a week and on the simulator twice a week so the commitments are huge.
What are your expectations for 2016?
I want to win races, but I’d be happy with a top five in the championship. I went into last year as a learning year and I’ll take that same approach this season. What will be will be, but of course, I’ll try to win every race.
What kind of activities do you do away from the race car?
I’ve always had a dog, so I love dogs. I wanted to do something to help so we approached the Dog’s Trust. (Note: founded in 1891, Dog’s Trust is the largest dog charity in the United Kingdom.) I’m working with them, doing media bits and talks. They work on getting dogs re-homed and fighting animal cruelty.
Do you have a “hidden” talent?
I used to play drums, so that was my forte three or four years ago. But I was also Junior Fishing Champion in Key West in 2009. My dad and I entered this competition and we won it. We won a pretty big trophy, which is currently the biggest trophy I have!
Who is your greatest inspiration – personal and/or professional?
Racing-wise, I’ve always been a Lewis Hamilton fan. For motivational purposes and someone who links to my life, it would be Jenson Button. He came from a more difficult background than I did and he still had the determination to make it work. Personally, it would be my dad. He came from a rough background, leaving school at age 18. He started his own business in a small work shed with a welder and a saw. Before long, he was working on buildings like the Canterbury Cathedral and the Tower of London.
Source: Andersen Promotions PR