Sage Karam and Jack Hawksworth have been teammates, competitors, and bitter rivals throughout their racing careers. Now you can add roommates to that list.
After brief forays into sports car racing in previous years, the pair of IndyCar expats have jumped headlong into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Lexus and 3GT Racing this season, with Karam joining veteran Scott Pruett in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 and Hawksworth in the sister No. 15 car with Robert Alon.
Both drivers acknowledged the transition to full-time sports car racing is a big one, and a step out of their comfort zones.
While the duo have competed at the highest levels of motorsport for years, they are both young for all of their experience: Hawksworth is 26 and Karam is 22.
Furthermore, each has spent precious little time in endurance sports car racing after carving careers through the open-wheel ladder system.
Now, both are fully focussed on this new stage in their respective careers, and have relocated near 3GT’s East Lansing, Mich. workshop to help get integrated with the team, and Karam said it made sense to see if his new English teammate would be interested in joining him.
“Me and Jack knew we were going to be on the team together, and Jack obviously wasn’t going to live overseas,” Karam told Sportscar365. “He was going to move where the shop was.
“I had the option to come move, and I didn’t know if I wanted to or not because it’s kind of boring when you move to a place on your own. I was talking to Jack and I thought, why not?”
Hawksworth told a slightly different version of the genesis of his new living arrangements.
“[Karam’s] mom needed someone to look after him,” he quipped. “She called me and said, ‘Jack, take care of my boy!'”
Whichever version of the story you choose to believe, the two have become fast friends in every sense.
After struggling through misfortune at Daytona, team and drivers alike showed promise throughout the week at Sebring before both cars dropped out of contention in the race itself.
Nonetheless, the former open-wheelers have impressed in their transition to GT racing, thanks in no small part to the camaraderie they have developed off the track.
“We’re having a good time,” said Karam. “We work out together pretty much every day; we’ve got a simulator set up in the place.
“It gets real competitive, I feel like everything we do is competitive.
“We play squash at the gym and we’ve already gone through a racquet that was snapped in half. It’s definitely a lot of fun.”
While both Karam and Hawksworth are all smiles and laughs now, it wasn’t that long ago that the two had something of a budding rivalry on track.
The bad blood stemmed from a 2015 IndyCar race that saw Karam spin his roommate-to-be not once but twice in the same race.
“That was in Detroit, and it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do!” recalled Hawksworth.
“He had a run-in with my teammate at the previous race, Takuma Sato, and our cars looked pretty similar. On one of the restarts, I was going into Turn 3 and I was spun around.”
Karam quickly interjected.
“I was blocked, it wasn’t my fault!” said native of Nazareth, Penn. “I was on slicks, it was damp, and [Conor] Daly put me in the wall.
“I got put in the back of Jack, then I had to come in and get a new front wing, and on the the next restart Jack started right in front of me again.
“We go into the same corner, and this is bad, I drove into the back of him again and turned him around. It was ugly.”
Hawksworth jumped back in to finish the story.
“I didn’t know who it was the second time, and I came on the radio and was like, ‘What happened there?’ and they told me he’d done it again!”
Both drivers are quick to laugh about the situation and Hawksworth assured his teammate that it was water under the bridge, but Karam confessed he was somewhat nervous to broach the subject of sharing living arrangements with his former rival initially.
“It was kind of awkward when I asked him because we didn’t really get off on real good terms the last time that we spoke,” he said.
“Once we started talking while we were testing, I think we put everything behind us and now we’re, I guess, I think we’re all good?”
“All is forgiven,” assured Hawksworth.
Joking aside, Hawksworth and Karam are focussed on the task at hand and are hopeful that this marks the beginning of a lengthy journey in sports car racing.
“The cool thing about it is, you can make such a long career in sports car racing,” said Karam. “You look at a guy like Scott Pruett, the dude just keeps ticking. He keeps turning hot laps and everything.
“When you’re with an organization like Lexus, it’s a no brainer to want to be a part of it. I don’t think it’s just going to stop here. I see it growing and getting to bigger and better things.
“For me, I’m very content and very happy with where I am, and I can see doing it for a long time.”
Hawksworth echoed Karam’s sentiment.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said. “Not just sports car racing period, more the opportunity to race for such a great organization in sports cars.
“I just want to be part a good team whichever series that is. This program has a ton of potential. I get on great with everyone at 3GT and really well with everyone at Lexus, even though it’s been a short relationship so far.
“The car showed well at Sebring and we have some good pace, so I’m just looking forward to the next race at Long Beach and hopefully we can get these guys a result early.
“If all goes well, I could stay around for a long time to come. I’m enjoying it and I’m focussing race by race.
“We want to get our first result first but I think we’re all in it for the long run.”