Oliver Askew’s journey in motorsport these previous few years hasn’t been simple. After a nasty crash within the 2020 Indianapolis 500, Askew withdrew from an occasion to pursue therapy for lingering concussion-like signs; later, he was dropped from the staff. In 2022, he signed with Avalanche Andretti in System E, earned Rookie of the Yr, and was subsequently changed. With none clear prospects for a aggressive experience in 2023, Askew turned to a brand new expertise he’s realized to like: presenting.
(Full disclosure: System E invited me to the 2023 London ePrix and organized a number of interviews, together with this one with Askew.)
“This was the primary time since I used to be eight years previous that I didn’t have a plan to race,” Askew informed me. “It’s actually powerful to simply accept, and that [feeling] isn’t over. I’m nonetheless attempting to get again within the seat someplace.”
However as he seemed for a possibility behind the wheel, Askew was introduced with a brand new problem, this one in entrance of the digicam.
System E introduced Askew on as a presenter for the primary two races of Season 9; in that position, the Florida driver would provide commentary on the actual skillset required by a System E automobile, along with perception on what every driver on monitor is prefer to race in opposition to. Or, as Askew places it, he was employed to “paint an image of what these guys are going via.
“Coming from being within the automobile final 12 months, it was simpler for me to talk on who these drivers are: who’s extra aggressive than others, what are their traits. I additionally obtained to drive the Gen3 automobile for a few demo laps, so I had an opportunity to really feel the variations.”
Regardless of the profession pivot, although, Askew says he discovered some elements of presenting to be far simpler than anticipated.
“I’ve been training for this for many of my skilled profession. We have to communicate properly in entrance of the digicam and characterize our groups and corporations properly,” he stated. “Racing within the U.S., it may be somewhat extra strict about how drivers current themselves, and that’s one thing I’m attempting to interrupt away from. I’m attempting to be myself somewhat bit extra as a result of that’s what individuals need to see.”
He was very clear about what he thought-about to be his weaknesses: Askew has been studying learn how to interview drivers forward of a race, although he’s not an enormous fan of doing so. He additionally prefers to have a co-presenter ask him a query; that enables him to really feel extra freedom to talk, since his background as a racer has primed him extra for that than talking on the fly.
That doesn’t imply Askew is kind of able to pivot completely away from racing in favor of presenting, even when he’s grown more and more pleased with the brand new ability set he’s developed.
“Simply being within the paddock helps the aggressive blood proceed to movement,” Askew stated. “Once I’m on my own at residence, it’s very simple to get in my very own head and neglect about my love of racing. However that love comes again after I’m across the individuals, the competitors.”
There are nonetheless 4 months left in 2023, which implies Askew has loads of time to safe a racing seat for the approaching racing season. Within the meantime, Askew will be proud to have developed a brand new motorsport-adjacent ability set, one that may undoubtedly pave new alternatives sooner or later.