Photo: Nick Ammann, Cfx, Inc.

Photo: Nick Ammann, Cfx, Inc.

16-year-old balances international competition and high-school education in pursuit of his dream.

At 16 years old, St. Louis, Missouri-native Spike Kohlbecker has driven farther – and faster – than most people ever will. A competitive kart racer since the age of 5, Kohlbecker recently transitioned to competitive open-wheel (Formula Ford/F1600) car racing and has been named a semi-finalist for the prestigious Team USA Scholarship.

Photo: Mark Schwigen

Photo: Mark Schwigen

Celebrating its 30th year, the Team USA Scholarship provides opportunities for talented young American race-car drivers at an early stage in their careers. The program covers the cost to represent the United States in two of the world’s largest and most competitive races held in the United Kingdom: the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. The program also provides introductions to influential figures within motorsports who can offer valuable insight and contacts to assist these young drivers’ progress up the racing ladder.

Kohlbecker has already made the first cut from 10 candidates to 6 semi-finalists, with 2 finalists from the group of 6 to be selected later this summer.

“Being considered for the Team USA Scholarship is a dream come true,” said Kohlbecker. “The names of past candidates and winners is an impressive list that includes five drivers who competed in this year’s Indy 500. I am honored to be considered for this opportunity and am fortunate to have the support of my family and my sponsors to help me continue to pursue my dream of winning the Indy 500.”

Kohlbecker got his start in local kart racing at tracks such as the Gateway Kartplex at World Wide Technologies Raceway. Since 2010, he has racked up countless local, regional and national wins and has been a factory-sponsored kart driver for St. Louis-based Margay Racing, as well as a driving instructor for other ambitious young karters. Eager to expand his capabilities to include auto racing, Kohlbecker began racing Formula 1600 open-wheel, open-cockpit cars in 2018. Pursuing this new passion has taken him around the globe. Kohlbecker spent most of 2018 in Canada, where he scored multiple wins and numerous podium finishes. He then progressed to New Zealand where he scored many podium finishes. He now competes in the UK National Championship Series, where again he has scored multiple wins and is challenging for the UK National Championship. Kohlbecker is the first US driver to score wins in both the Canadian and UK Formula Ford National Series championship events, an especially impressive feat considering he is only 16 years old. His early success in open-wheel racing has not gone unnoticed in racing circles. Racing legends, officials, team owners and industry writers alike are singing his praises as a promising young talent.

Photo: Mark Schwigen

Photo: Mark Schwigen

Balancing academics and auto-racing aspirations
Participating in international racing competitions has made it impossible for Kohlbecker to have a traditional high-school experience, as he is often on the road for weeks – sometimes months – at a time. Seeking a way to continue his high-school education while competing abroad, Kohlbecker and his family found a viable option at Kirkwood High School through the Launch program – Missouri’s solution for course-access issues for school districts and families in need of flexible and personalized learning options. With the approval of – and in cooperation with – administrators and faculty, Kohlbecker became the first student in the state of Missouri to take the Launch online program internationally.

Kohlbecker is currently conducting his studies in the United Kingdom while racing in the Avon Tyres Formula Ford UK National Championship Series – all while successfully taking an accelerated course load.


“Racing at the world famous Brands Hatch Indy circuit was a dream come true. It was Round 5, Race 1 of the UK National Championship that I finished with a win and took the top step of the podium. I sure hope it was an interesting race for the diehard UK racing fans who came out in force to watch because for me in was an intense race. I will remember this hard fought win for a long time.”



2019 has been an incredible year for me and I’m only half way into it. Coming back from New Zealand with a massive amount of experience really helped set the tone for the year. Great things are happening on and off the track and I’m pleased to share a few of them with you in this mid-season report. I can’t thank my friends, family and supporters enough for making this dream become a reality.

I’m now in 2nd place in UK National Championship and with 4 more races in England and Northern Ireland, there is still plenty of time to come visit me. You won’t want to miss the action at legendary tracks like Brands Hatch and Silverstone.

Hope to see you at the track soon.

Living and racing in New Zealand helped me develop on and off the track.

Racing in “En Zed” (as the Kiwi’s would say) was an experience I will never forget. The learnings on and off the track made me a better driver and a better person thanks in part to the support of John and Trish Crawford. Jumping into a new car, a new country, and unfamiliar tracks was the challenge I was looking for. Double podiums in my first 2 weekends of racing helped earn some incredible press coverage.

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The tremendous trio of Cliff Dempsey Racing, Ray Racing chassis, and Bold Engines will put a smile on your face for sure.

Racing for the legendary Cliff Dempsey Racing Team is a incredible opportunity for me to learn from yet another world-class program. Experiencing my third chassis in as many series, I’ve grown accustomed to the Ray Racing chassis and love the nimble feel I get with the car at some of the trickiest tracks I’ve raced on. Right away I was in the hunt with this team scoring a double podium and a win in my first race weekend in the UK.


In the UK everybody is a race fan.

I always heard the UK fans were mad about their racing — and they are! It’s been real fun racing in front of big crowds at tracks in England and Wales (and soon to be in Northern Ireland).

I’m currently in 2nd place in the UK National Championship at the mid-point of the season. This series has been the challenge I was looking for. As I told the UK Motorsports media here, I’m not chasing trophies - I want to race against the best.

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Celebrating another podium appearance with Michelle.

Who is Michelle? Racing is a team sport and none of my success would be possible without the support of Michelle Dempsey both at the track and at home. Just when she thought she was done with teenagers she gets to deal with me. Michelle has looked after young drivers from all over the world at her home in Brigstock, England. I’m thankful I have an opportunity to live and race with Cliff and Michelle ... it’s an experience I will never forget.

I’m looking forward to the 2nd half of the season. Check my social channels for further updates.



Talented American driver joins championship team after strong performances in Canada and New Zealand

London, England and St. Louis, Missouri USA (Friday, March 15, 2019) – Cliff Dempsey Racing is poised to continue its long-standing heritage in preparing tomorrow’s racing superstars with a full lineup of impressive drivers for the BRSCC Avon Tyres National FF1600 Championship and the team is pleased to announce its final driver, young American racing standout Spike Kohlbecker of St. Louis, Missouri USA.


On track at Teretonga Race Track in Invercargill, New Zealand.


Cliff Dempsey commented, “We are delighted to have Spike join our team for the 2019 season. He comes with a lot of FF1600 experience and no doubt his recent racing in New Zealand will serve him well. We are excited to have completed this partnership and now we can’t wait to get going. This is going to be a very completive field this year and we’re anxious to see Spike in the mix.”


Celebrating a double podium weekend. Post race interviews in "Kiwi"! 

Kohlbecker continues his 2019 campaign after joining the Motorsport Solutions New Zealand team in a partial season for the New Zealand National FF1600 Championship. Kohlbecker quickly adapted to completely new surroundings with limited track time as is evidenced by his double podium efforts in his first two race weekends. Kohlbecker, age 16, comes off a wildly successful campaign in the 2018 Canadian F1600 Toyo Tires Championship where he finished on the podium in both the Ontario series and the Ontario/Quebec Super Series. “Coming out of my successful rookie Canadian F1600 season as the youngest driver in the field I wanted to really challenge myself in the next step of my racing career and that’s why I went to New Zealand,” Kohlbecker added. “The New Zealand experience will no doubt serve me well as I now focus my attention on what will be a very competitive series in the UK,” Kohlbecker went on to say.


Spike saying one final thanks to his team owner, John Crawford, after the final race at Pukekohe Park Raceway in Pukekohe, New Zealand. After an exciting and successful trip Down Under Spike closed out the season with one more podium finish.


Spike with one of his Motorsport Solutions New Zealand teammates, Zac Stichbury, son of the legendary Kiwi driver Ashley Stichbury.


Kohlbecker will relocate to the UK later this month. “Deciding what to do after New Zealand was not easy for me, not until the partnership with Cliff Dempsey came together. I was fortunate enough to have several offers in various series, but I like the idea of finishing my racing foundation with a full season of FF1600 in a very competitive series. If you look at the drivers and teams that are set for this series it’s going to be tough but I’m not looking for anything easy, I want to be challenged,” added Kohlbecker.

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Cliff Dempsey Racing is a multiple Championship winning team which was set up 29  years ago by ex driver Cliff Dempsey, who raced Minis, GT’s and Formula Ford 1600.  In 2010 Cliff Dempsey relocated his race team from Ireland to the United Kingdom – the home of motorsport and has been very successful in Formula Ford 1600.

For the past ten years, Cliff Dempsey Racing has been very privileged to be the team selected for Jeremy Shaw’s Team USA Scholarship Programme where drivers such as Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Connor De Phillippe and Tristan Nunez have had successful wins at the Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy. We are also very proud to have been chosen by Brian Graham to run his  Team Canada Scholarship programme for the past eight years.


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Talented American driver joins championship team after strong performance in Canada

Christchurch, NZ and St. Louis, MO (December 18, 2018) – Motorsport Solutions is excited to continue its tradition of preparing tomorrow’s racing champions with a full lineup of impressive drivers in this year’s New Zealand Formula Ford National Championship Series and the team is pleased to confirm that young American racing standout Spike Kohlbecker will be relocating to New Zealand to join the team and continue his impressive debut in open-wheel formula car competition. Kohlbecker will be joining the team for round two of the National Championship at the famed Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Spike Kolhbecker celebrates another podium finish with a post-race handshake.


“Having the opportunity to further develop a young rising star like Spike Kohlbecker is indeed exciting for us, we have some experience with a number of other drivers from the states that have gone on to careers in racing,” commented John Crawford, team principal of Motorsport Solutions. “Spike has an impressive resume which includes 11 years of kart racing, and an obvious dedication and commitment to his motorsports career anchored by a remarkable run as a factory karting pilot for the US chassis manufacturer, Margay, and a breakout season in Formula 1600 in Canada. I am also thrilled that Spike is fully committed to not only racing with us but working in the shop to advance his understanding of the true mechanics of the car. Spike will surely benefit from the strong competitive tradition of Formula Ford racing in New Zealand,” added Crawford.


Kohlbecker begins his 2019 campaign after a wildly successful run in the 2018 Canadian F1600 Toyo Tires Championship where he finished on the podium in both the Ontario series and the Ontario/Quebec Super Series. “Coming out of my successful rookie Canadian F1600 season as the youngest driver in the field with only 1 day of testing I’m stoked to get back in a car,” Kohlbecker added. “In my first race in Canada I finished on the podium, in race weekend two I put it on the pole, and from there I was in the front battling for wins every race – that’s what I plan to do in New Zealand! I am excited to be launching the next chapter of my racing career with the Motorsport Solutions team and excited to get 2019 under way.”


Spike climbs the top step of the podium to celebrate another win at the legendary Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport).


Kohlbecker will relocate to New Zealand in early January. “I have so many people to thank – none of this would have happened without the amazing support of my racing advisory team, my sponsors and the team of teachers and administrators at Kirkwood High School. I’ll be the first student in my home state of Missouri to take the LAUNCH online school program from another country. I owe a special thanks to Dr. Mike Havener, my school principal, for allowing me to be the first student to test this program from another country.”

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About Autosport New Zealand:

Lead by team principal, John Crawford who started in Formula Ford in the late 70’s, Motorsport Solutions is dedicated to their customer’s success. After a successful career as a driver and then as an engineer running four international race teams both in the UK and USA, John and his wife Trish started the racing school at the famed Ruapana International Raceway in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1990. John would later turn his attention to engineering and car building in what would lead to the development of Motorsport Solutions NZ Ltd.

Spike Focused on Continued Success at Calaboogie


TROIS RIVIERES, QC (August 22, 2018) – American Spike Kohlbecker is enjoying a tremendous rookie season with Exclusive Autosport, and he finished on the podium in the opening race of the tripleheader, taking a strong third. After a valuable data review from the first race, the 15-year-old was ready to fine-tune his approach based on his experience. Once again, he delivered a solid start to slide into a position to run with the lead pack. In the end, he finished sixth, but he felt much better about his command of the track, applying key improvements that were identified in the team debrief.  The Quebec fans were out in force on Sunday for the final race of the weekend, and Spike was ready to move forward again as he was becoming more comfortable with the circuit’s walls, but a mechanical issue sent him to the sidelines early.

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