Alexander Rossi and Matt Jaskol to race SKUSA SuperNationals
When he won the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29, Verizon IndyCar Series rookie driver Alexander Rossi thanked, among others, Matt Jaskol for getting him to this point.
As Rossi turned 10 years old, his father Pieter enrolled him in a karting class to help advance his son’s newly realized love of motorsport. One of the teachers at his school was Jaskol, who realized this student had real talent. Jaskol took the young Rossi under his wing, coached him for a year in karts before Rossi began his move up the racing ladder, going into single-seaters in the United States (Skip Barber, Formula BMW) and then taking off for Europe in 2009 and further training – that eventually landed the American in Formula 1 as a reserve driver for Marussia Manor.
Sixteen years – and a tumultuously successful INDYCAR season – later, Rossi is returning to his roots with his former teacher, as the duo intend to race together in the most prestigious American kart competition: the SKUSA SuperNationals near Jaskol’s Las Vegas home. Rossi won’t be the first ex-Formula 1 or INDYCAR driver to come to this race as Michael Schumacher, Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Will Power and Marco Andretti have also competed in these races.
Jaskol admitted the duo have been planning this get-together competition since Rossi won at Indy, where they met up again at the 500. Jaskol was visiting with his former roommate and best friend, Grant Haughawout, tire engineer and truck driver for Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti. Haughawout insisted Jaskol come to the 100th race after giving Jaskol a home during his time representing Red Bull’s Junior Team in Formula BMW and through Jaskol’s 2008 Indy Lights driving career.
“I hadn’t seen Alexander or [Rossi’s father] Pieter for years and the fact that I just showed up renewed the relationship,” Jaskol recalled of that May day. “I hadn’t seen or spoken to Alex in almost 10 years, although Pieter and I had kept in touch, but it had been a good five years since we spoke. I was standing outside the garage with Grant and I see Pieter. We started catching up, found Alex and had a little reunion.
They started talking about the SKUSA SuperNationals before the 500 took place. “I remarked how cool it would be if Alex and I were to race as teammates. The rest went from there and we’ve planning ever since,” he said.
For the SKUSA race Matt and Alexander will team up with Factory CRG Racing Team in two categories: KZ Pro Class (which used to be known as ICC) and the 125 Moto Honda Pro Class, S1. Each of them will run the two classes as teammates – and most likely get to see who’s got the upper hand these days?
Rossi, who claimed both Rookie of the Year honors at Indianapolis and for the 2016 IndyCar season stated he’s “thrilled to be taking part in this year’s SKUSA SuperNationals racing alongside Matt and the best karters in the world. This is where it all began and for me to give back to the foundation and roots of my profession is something I really look forward to.
“Matt was and is an inspiration to me and a really big part of the reason I took the next step in racing. He’s an incredible go-kart driver and champion, and it’s a huge honor to finally be racing with him. I believe Matt and I have a good program and we will work very hard to be as competitive as possible.”
This writer first met Jaskol in 2000 – two years before he became Rossi’s tutor – at a CART-promoted kart race on a track formerly owned by Bryan Herta, that was a bit south of Las Vegas. Jaskol was racing with Paul Tracy’s kart team at the event and I was writing a story for CART.com. We became friends and still keep in touch. Currently, Jaskol manages Woodcutters, the family business, continues to instruct at Dream Racing, works with Hammer Nutrition and, just last weekend helped Travis Pastrana (and friends) celebrate Pastrana’s birthday with a sky-dive into a RAD (Real Action Daily) park in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Just normal stuff.
By Anne Proffit