With four wins in the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) 2022 season, Lochie Hughes currently leads the driver’s points championship standings for Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD). The 20-year-old from Australia’s Gold Coast joined F4 U.S. after earning top rookie honors in 2018 and Vice Champion honors in 2019 while competing in Australian Formula 4. In 2019, Hughes was also named the “Young Driver of the Year” by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport. This season, he’s competing full-time in F4 U.S. as the rookie pilot of the No. 6 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4.
What topping absolutely never belongs on a pizza?
Lochie Hughes (LH): “Hmm, maybe chocolate? Especially if it’s a tomato-based pizza. That wouldn’t be good.”
Do you believe in luck?
LH: “No, I believe you make your own luck.”
What emotions do you go through during a race?
LH: “Probably all of them, to be honest. Excited. Nervous. Angry, depending on what happens. Happy, if it works out well. That’s the beauty of racing—it’s a roller coaster.”
If you were developing the next big social media platform, what would it be used for?
LH: “Helping people in some way. Maybe something that could help people in third-world countries or something like that.”
How did you come up with your autograph?
LH: “I actually don’t really have an autograph. I’ve never practiced and if you see me sign an autograph, it’s pretty horrible, really. I don’t know what to do, so it’s basically just my initials.”
How do you decompress after a tough race?
LH: “After a tough race, you just focus straight on to the next race and try to forget about that one. If it’s a good race, sometimes there’s a bit of celebration. You’re happy. The next day, you might not train because you’re giving yourself a break. But when you’ve had a tough one, it’s the opposite. You’re straight back into the gym, and straight back into trying to improve.”
If you didn’t drive racecars for a living, what would you do?
LH: “Well, I’m not actually driving racecars for a living yet. I’m here because I want to drive cars for a living, so that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m still a long way off that; there’s every possibility that I could end up being a builder if I don’t make it in racing. I don’t consider myself a racing driver as of yet, but hopefully I do become a racing driver.
“Now, if I didn’t want to pursue racing, I really don’t know what I’d do. I’d probably look at doing something in business—wherever you can make the most money.”
Who in the paddock have you known the longest and how did you meet?
LH: “In the F4 paddock, probably Jay [Howard, team owner]. I first raced for him in Las Vegas in 2015. I was really young back then; it was one of my first races in juniors. We were at the Super Nats and doing really well, coming top three in the final. I had a chain fall off, which was no one’s fault. So, I’ve known Jay for seven years now.
“I don’t really know many of the drivers; I never raced any of them growing up. When I arrived in the U.S., I actually knew no one except Jay in this paddock.”
Before you joined the F4 U.S. Championship, you raced in the F4 Australian Championship. What similarities and differences have you noticed between the two championships?
LH: “It’s been a while since I last raced in Australia in F4 because of COVID and everything. The main difference is the chassis; in Australia it was the Mygale, here it’s the Ligier JS F4. They’re a bit different handling-wise, but it’s a car with four wheels, so you treat it the same.”
What about in the culture of the paddock, was that any different?
LH: “Yeah, the paddock in Australia was a bit different. On the teams, everyone was Australian. A lot of people knew each other, and I knew most of the paddock because I grew up there.”
Last week I talked to Scott Goodyear and I asked him for a question to ask you. He said to ask, what’s the most difficult thing about being away from home and your friends and family?
LH: “Most difficult is probably missing my dog. I have a Groodle—Golden Retriever/Poodle—I think you guys call them a Goldendoodle? I love him and he’s getting old now, so obviously you want to spend as much time with him as you can, but I can’t. With family and friends, you can still FaceTime and text. While I miss them, I wouldn’t change it for the world because this is what I want to do. I haven’t seen my family for a long time, but that’s part of the job.
“When I first moved here, I just knew Jay. I met the guys on the team and became good friends with them—especially some of the mechanics that were my age—and then they introduced me to their friends. So, I have created my own life over here in a way, which has been cool. It stops me from getting homesick, but there’s nothing better than going back home and seeing family and friends. I do miss Australia; I love it here in the U.S., but there’s nothing like home.”
How often do you get back?
LH: “I go back home about every three months. It’s plenty of time that I’m not homesick; but it’s been long enough that when I get back, we all get together and I get to see everyone. I’m just happy to be in the U.S. and racing. I spent the last two years during COVID at home, not really doing anything. To have my bum in a seat racing is a dream.”
Do you have a question that I can ask the next driver I interview? It will be Bryson Morris.
LH: “What’s it like to be an American racing with a team full of Kiwis?”