William Ferguson blog: A great atmosphere

For those who haven’t heard of me, my name is William Ferguson. I have been on the motorsports path for the last eight years. When I first got into a go-kart at the age of 10, I couldn’t have even dreamed about this amazing opportunity that I’ve been given.

My dad and I came from very humble beginnings. My first season of racing we built a flat bed trailer in our garage and towed it around with a Toyota Prius! I then worked my way up the karting ladder until I won the 2019 Challenge of the Americas Championship and received a ticket to the Super Final in Italy. In 2020, I received the VMB Driver Development Scholarship where I raced with World Speed Motorsports in the Formula Pro USA Western F4 Championship for a few races in 2020 and was able to claim the championship title in 2021.

This season I’ve been running in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship in Canada. We chose to run with Brian Graham Racing and follow in the footsteps of former Team USA Scholarship winner Jake Craig and many others. I had about a year and a half of seat time in other cars before competing in this year’s F1600 championship, but with only two days in the car I was able to grab two wins and a third-place finish at my first race weekend in the car at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park against veteran drivers. After leading the championship nearly all year we unfortunately were not quite able to clinch the 2022 title, but I won the Rookie of the Year award and managed second place in the championship.

This year’s Team USA Scholarship Shootout was an awesome experience, working with the best of the best and learning a lot about the racing world. Being selected for this year’s Scholarship is such an honor. I really appreciate all of the work Jeremy Shaw, AERO Sustainable Paint, Doug Mockett, Cooper Tires, SAFEisFast.com and everyone involved has put in.

We arrived in England last week and went immediately to the Ammonite Motorsport shop to do our seat fittings. After a quick shakedown at a local airport on Wednesday, we headed to Castle Combe circuit where, early morning on Thursday, before the day started, one of the local track directors took us out in his beater car, in which Thomas had to hold the door shut on his side! We did a couple of laps that gave us an idea of the track’s little quirks and the lack of runoff before we got on track ourselves for the first time. Once we did, one of the biggest differences I found was how fast the steering rack is. It’s a lot lighter and more agile than the F1600 car I’m used to driving in Canada. Getting used to following the car instead of telling it where to go is definitely going to be a learning curve. Another big difference is the fact that the Ford engines are fueled by a laggy carburetor similar to a go-kart, instead of the Honda which is fuel injected and has instant throttle response.

It was a smaller test day on Thursday and we had lots of track time, which was great for learning the car. However, having short, 15-minute sessions every hour left little time for digesting and reviewing our laps. We were still able to go over a bit of data and onboard video collected from our cars just before the second session. We went out again, and with more confidence in the car, everything went very well. We were still battling a decently damp track though. Thankfully I was able to keep it on the track along with Elliott and Thomas while still pushing the car to the limit.

We made steady improvements as we got more familiar with the characteristics of the Ray Formula Ford and Avon tires. As the day went on we were all getting faster and faster, with Thomas managing to get within a second of the track record. We also got a few opportunities to practice working together with the amount of track time we had, nearly 90 laps over eight practice sessions.

Oliver Reed photo

So far it has been a great time with Ammonite Motorsports. Andy Low runs a great program with a really good group of guys helping out, Toby, Adam and Ben. I believe this team is developing great chemistry even since the first day we arrived, consistently a great atmosphere. We’ve been able to spend time together in a couple local towns and it’s been great to really immerse ourselves in the culture over the first few days in the United Kingdom. It’s very interesting: the way people operate is very much the same, but everything is so rich in history and you can feel thousands of years of development all around you.

For us, the goal of competing in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship was more to get noticed for the Team USA Scholarship, and with Brian Graham’s connection to Jeremy, it just made the most sense. Even being considered for this scholarship was such an honor. The list of successful drivers that have come from the program is outstanding. I’m so excited to be a part of what I believe is an incredibly strong team. All three of us are extremely proud, thankful and hungry to bring home the win for our country.

– William