I came across this post on Facebook earlier today and while it’s not an uncommon tale, it’s a tale that the TSO Ladder needs to do a better job of highlighting and sharing when we hear about it, so please hear us out.
If you are a Toronto based business looking for some extra exposure in your home market, a small business itching to dip a toe in the motorsports sponsorship waters, or just a good samaritan that would like to help a wonderful young man continue his dreams, please get in touch with Jay Green of JAY Motorsports at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-610-5663, or don’t hesitate to get in contact with email@example.com and I’ll be happy to pass along your info.
More about Luke Gabin the racer:
Gabin, originally from Perth, Australia, but now living in Indianapolis, Indiana came to the U.S. in 2013 with very little money and the singular goal of one day winning a Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Gabin won the Australian CIK Stars of Karting KF Pro Light State Championship in Queensland in 2013, that win turned into an opportunity for Gabin to compete in the Skip Barber Karting Shootout. Gabin, a second year university student joined current IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and Spencer Pigot as Karting Shootout Champions and for his efforts won a scholarship that allowed him to compete in the full Skip Barber Summer Series.
The 21 year-old destroyed the competition in the 2014 Skip Barber Summer Series, winning 10 of 16 races, parlaying his Summer Series dominance into an invite to the Skip Barber Championship Series Shootout, and a chance to win a $200,000 Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship to use to move up to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda series.
The Shootout was held over three days and included five races, media interviews and instructor evaluations. After three days of intense competition it came down to the last lap of the last race, where Gabin made a pass for the lead of the race that allowed him to beat his fellow competitors to the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship.
Gabin used his $200,000 scholarship to join the all-rookie, first year Team Pelfrey USF2000 squad. Immediately showing he would have the pace to compete during Cooper Tires Winterfest, Gabin also made it clear his race craft needed some work. Gabin’s struggles carried over to the beginning of the 2015 season where he had a slow start to the season with four of his first six results ending up near the back-end up the USF2000 grid.
Clearly learning from his early season struggles, Gabin improved tremendously to finish off the season with eight top 10 finishes in the final 10 races. Included in that were four top-fives, his first podium (at Toronto), and the second quickest lap of the race in Mid-Ohio race #2. Gabin ended the season in sixth place in the championship and was the third highest placed rookie.
A lack of funding meant no off-season testing, and worse, a bleak outlook for finding a ride for 2016. Just before the season opening event at St. Petersburg, Gabin and JAY Motorsports announced that they had scraped enough funding together to go racing on an event-by-event basis. A strong fourth, and fifth place finish in the season opener allowed Gabin and the team to continue to Barber where they scored another fourth place and also their first podium of the year, a second place finish in the second race of the weekend.
Gabin left Alabama second in points, and has had a few good and a few so-so outings since. The so-so included a 20th place in the first race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course and an 11th place on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway. The good included two more podiums, a nice comeback for a third place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and as part of an all Australian podium during the first race at Road America.
A third place and seventh place finishes were fantastic results at Road America for the squad. The No. 91 suffered a failure of a fairly new engine in the first practice session and it looked like Gabin might have to miss the race weekend, but Team Pelfrey stepped up to lease the JAY Motorsports squad an engine for the weekend. What little budget Gabin had left, went towards making sure they could race at Road America.
More about Luke Gabin the person
One of my favorite things about covering the Mazda Road To Indy is having the opportunity to watch how drivers develop as people, and Gabin has been no different.
It was pretty obvious that after winning just the majority of the races he entered in 2013 and 2014, Gabin’s 2015 start to USF2000 season came as quite a shock to the system, and it showed early on.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself” was one of many eye-opeing piece’s of advice written by H.L. Mencken and it certainly fits this situation.
Once he realized he wasn’t going to win every race, Gabin started to drive with less urgency, and therefore made fewer mistakes.
Gabin’s growth didn’t end last season, as he has continued his obvious maturation during the 2016 season. Not one time has he complained about his dire funding situation, and even though each event might be his last he has continued to drive intelligently.
One thing that I watch very closely when looking at the character of a veteran driver is how they interact with a younger rookie teammate, and it’s here where Gabin has impressed me the most this season. Gabin has taken Cameron Das, a USF2000 rookie, under his wing and the 15 year-old has definitely benefited from the tutelage of the more experienced Gabin.
It won’t just be Gabin that you will be helping out, you will also be helping out JAY Motorsports and team owner Jay Green. Based in Palmetto, Florida, Green has been part of the USF2000 series since 2012, and after a tough year in 2015 with a driver walking away mid-season, the long-time SCCA competitor doubled-down in 2016 and made a commitment to competing at the pointy end of the grid. Bringing Gabin on board along with hiring experienced and successful engineer Daryl Bear was a big commitment for the family oriented team, but they’ve proven they belong at the top end of the grid, with three podiums, and six top fives. JAY Motorsports currently sits an impressive fourth in the USF2000 team points.