CHARLOTTE (September 11, 2023) – Hot off his first-career win in Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas), it’s hard to believe that not even two years have passed since Oliver Westling first climbed behind the wheel of a race car. The Swedish-born driver joined JENSEN for the 2022 race season and has quickly progressed through the ranks. Starting last year in Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.), he graduated to FR Americas for the final two races of that season. Now, partially through 2023, Westling can officially say he’s an FR Americas race winner.
“I've loved racing and cars my whole life,” said Westling. “In high school, I actually reached out to every Formula 4 team. I wrote them an email asking about prices and how their team works, trying to get some information about this whole racing bubble.”
Westling joined the JENSEN team in 2021 and immediately engaged in an aggressive test schedule to learn not only the Ligier JS F4 car, but also how to race. Approved to join the F4 U.S. field for the 2022 season opener at NOLA Motorsports Park, Westling spent the first four race weekends competing in that championship, while taking on another extensive test schedule to learn the Ligier JS F3 car. With just two race weekends left on the 2022 schedule, Westling was approved to step up to FR Americas and get a jump on his 2023 race season.
The 20-year-old living in Emerald Hills, Calif., caught everyone’s attention in the season finale at Circuit of The Americas, where he earned his first-career podium. With only a handful of FR Americas starts under his belt, Westling and his JENSEN team took the bold approach of starting the race on Hankook rain tires with varying track conditions. However, as the race turned to wet, Westling had an advantage over the whole field and picked away at the leader at a rate of two to three seconds per lap. With the clock running out, he settled for second, but it set a whole new expectation leading into the 2023 season.
“Finishing on the podium at COTA to close out last season was a huge motivator for me,” reminisced Westling. “After getting that first podium finish, I just wanted to keep getting more podiums and to win. It really kept me motivated over the off-season.”
Westling spent the off-season training as much as he could. He was working out two to three hours a day, running and spending time on the simulator in between his college courses at Chico State University. Continuing his testing program with JENSEN, he entered the 2023 season as hungry as ever and in the best physical condition he’s been.
Then came Round 10 at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP). Westling lined up third on the grid, but a perfect launch off the starting block propelled him forward. Racing down the front stretch, the Swede dove to the inside with both front row starters to his left, he stayed on the throttle and claimed the point position as they raced into Turn 1. Westling led the field all the way to the checkered flag in the caution-free race.
Finishing the weekend at NJMP with one win, a second-place finish and fourth-place result in the three races, Westling now finds himself just 136 points outside the championship lead.
“Winning the championship would mean so much to me,” said Westling. “I have so much drive in me, and know I can do it. I know that I can be faster than everyone else, even though I’ve been racing for the least amount of time. I know that I can win a championship. It may not be this year, but it definitely should be next year. It’s coming.”
With six rounds remaining and 150 points up for grabs, could this be the year that Westling wins it all? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
Photos by Gavin Baker Photography.