MATTHEW Cowley is only too happy to be living life in the fast lane.
The 20-year-old motor-racing driver from Carrbrook is waiting for the flag to be raised for a debut season in Formula 4.
Matthew, who will be racing in America for Century Auto Racing, will be looking to establish himself in the F4 series that features many of the sport’s rising drivers whose dream one day is to become an F1 superstar.
And having competed in the States last year for Team Pelfrey in the F1600 series, in which he won the championship and Sports Car Club of America run off at Indianapolis, Matthew is hoping to make a seemless transition.
It has been a remarkable journey so far for Matthew who last year became the first British driver to be awarded the coveted SCCA President’s Cup.
Matthew recalls how he took his first tentative steps at the age of eight, explaining: “It began when I was aged eight or nine and went to a friend’s karting party that took place at Daytona in Manchester.
“I did well, as well as having fun, and was soon began karting, both indoors and outdoors, mainly at the Three Sisters circuit in Wigan.”
Matthew made the transition to single seat Formula 1600 in 2013 aged 16 – before he had a licence to drive on British roads.
He was given a race licence, however, as he had to show an instructor he was competent on a race track.
Yet when it came to taking his road licence here aged 17, Matthew failed first time and only passed at the second time, a source of wry amusement seeing he was becoming a star at F1600.
Matthew explained how the move to America happened, saying: “It came about by chance after I visited the Autosport International in Birmingham and during a conversation with Team Pelfrey was asked to go testing with them in America.
“It went well and I had great fun and that led to me becoming one of the three drivers in their team in 2017.”
Matthew added it was not simply the driving and racing but also being part of the team and also learning about the mechanics.
He is currently studying for a diploma in mechanical engineering as a fall back as if he fails to reach the top of his sport, he has sights set on becoming a race engineer.
Matthew, who was a former pupil at Oldham Hulme Grammar, says it his ambition to get paid for racing.
As it stands, he is financed the moment by “the bank of mum and dad” as Ian and Terri have spent an eye-watering amount in the last four years to enable Matthew to reach F4.
Ian, a consultant engineer, said: “It is very difficult for talented drivers to reach the top without backing.
“Matthew relies on the bank of mum and dad, but the barrel is almost empty and will need funding next year. We are hoping as Matthew gets better he will be in a position in which he can start negotiating with teams and get free drives.
“A lot of people in the States have recognised Matthew’s talent, and what he achieved in 2017 was exceptional.
“And to be awarded the President’s Cup, the first Brit to win it and be one of a handful of teenagers to receive it in its 63 years was special.”
The President’s Cup was first presented by US president Dwight D Eisenhower in 1954.
The F4 series runs between April and October and there will be 20 races in the mid and east states.
And Matthew will be looking forward to one race in particular, the one at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas that will form part of the warm-up to the US Grand Prix.
Matthew is also one of 12 drivers selected as part of the UK’s Motorsport Association’s academy team and part of the Andy Priaulx Sports Management young driver development programme.
Priaulx is a three times world touring car champion and current Chip Ganassi WEC Ford GT driver so Matthew is getting advice from somebody of that stature.
Matthew is also using his position in motorsport to help raise the profile and awareness of the mental health charity Shaw Mind Foundation for whom he is an ambassador.
It ought to be little surprise that Matthew developed a love of cars as his two grandfathers Bryan and Harry were involved in the motor industry and his father Ian has always had an interest in cars and engineering, so it seemed a natural progression for Matthew.