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Neil Verhagen Neil Verhagen. All photos courtesy British Formula 3 (MSV)

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Americans in British F3 2019:
Neil Verhagen

Neil tells us about living the life as an American Racing Driver in Britain
Find Neil online via Twitter @NeilVerhagen, Instagram and Facebook
Published on April 18, 2019

Neil Verhagen

Thanks for your time Neil! Where in the States (or the world) are you from?

I am from Mooresville, NC just north of Charlotte. It's also called Race City USA because many of the NASCAR teams as well as Penske's Indycar team is based here. The town is also on Lake Norman which is great for watersports, fishing, and lakeside restaurants.

How did you first become interested in motor racing?

My parents brought me to an indoor karting place when I was 9. It was a lot of fun especially being able to go faster than the adults. I was also born on Feb 18, 2001 which was the day that Dale Earnhardt died at Daytona. Through that connection I learned more about him and also more about racing. Dale was a legend, and especially so around Mooresville NC.

How did you become part of the British Formula 3 Championship, and how is it feeling to be part of the series for 2019?

I spent the last two years racing the Formula Renault Eurocup all over Europe. It was an amazing experience and great series and I learned a lot. As I considered my options for this season, I decided on the British F3 for a number of reasons. First I wanted to select a series where I could focus on developing some of the areas of my driving which I want to strengthen. Second, it's a very established series with a proven car, compared to the other series I considered which were all undergoing significant changes. Third, it is one of the best values in motorsports, with all the other options being significantly more expensive. And finally, I am very much looking forward to being part of the Double R team and know that they have the right platform for me to get the most out of the season and myself.

Will you be living in the UK during the season, and if so, are you looking forward to life in Britain?

I am currently staying in London as a guest of the family of another American racer. London is fantastic so I am very thankful to have the opportunity to live there. The last two years I lived in the Netherlands and traveled a lot in Europe which was sometimes difficult with the languages. So one thing I very much look forward to is living in a place where I know the language.

The UK has some legendary courses, and the British Formula 3 season also features the iconic Spa in Belgium. Are you looking forward to any track in particular?

The new to me circuits are one of the reasons I really look forward to racing in the British Formula 3. While I have experience in Spa and Silverstone, I am really looking forward to Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, and Snetterton.  They are all driver's circuits, are more raw, and fit the F3 car better than the current F1 tracks which work better for cars capable of much higher speeds.

What are your hopes and goals for the 2019 season?

I really feel like this season all the pieces are in place for me to have a breakout season. Definitely the goal is to win the championship, and to develop the few areas in my driving where I feel I need more experience.

How do you think experiences of driving in Europe will compare with driving in the States?

I think some of the British circuits Oulton park, Brands Hatch and Snetterton are somewhat similar in design to some of the classic American circuits I'm used to such as Road Atlanta, Mid Ohio, VIR, and Watkins Glen. So I think adapting to the character of the circuits will go pretty well. The weather is typically more wet in England so I look forward to seeing a lot of different and challenging conditions this season.

Whilst you've here in the UK, is there anything you miss / don't miss about the States?

A lot!! Obviously my friends and family, but also a lot of little things such as sweet tea, warmer weather, going out on the lake.

What is your ultimate career goal?

Formula 1 is definitely the dream. It is long overdue to have an American on the grid. I will keep fighting to realize that dream but I also recognize there are other competitive professional series out there which interest me. Ultimately any and all opportunities to get behind the wheel of a race car is what drives me.

Finally, what's the best thing about being an American racing driver?

I'm proud to be an American and want to show what we are capable of. There is a bit of a stigma that American drivers don't do well in Europe, so I work hard to change that perception. Similarly, there have been very good European drivers who have failed to impress in the US series. Although it doesn't feel different, somehow the racing is different and it takes time to adapt. I want to prove I can be successful on both sides of the pond.

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