MORE THAN 50 RISING OPEN-WHEEL STARS FROM AROUND THE WORLD HEAD TO THE INDY F1 CIRCUIT FOR THE 2013 MAZDA ROAD TO INDY PRE-SEASON TEST
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – A Who’s Who of rising open-wheel stars from around the world – more than 50 in all – are headed to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test, Oct. 10-11. This unique pre-season ‘audition’ that brings together the stars of tomorrow together with teams from the USF2000, Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights ladder series is fast becoming the premier event for young drivers serious about advancing their motorsports careers.
Several of the drivers will be taking part in the test with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy, the official driver development program of IndyCar. Included are Antti Buri, the Finnish driver who won the 2012 British Formula Ford Championship; he will receive a full test day in a USF2000 Championship car and one full day in a Star Mazda Championship car fielded by 2011 Star Mazda championship winners JDC Motorsports.
Also testing with backing from the Mazda Road to Indy are top drivers from the Latam Challenge Series, a VW-based formula car series in Mexico, including series leader Francisco Cerullo (also the 2008 Venezuelan F2000 champion), Costa Rican racer André Solano (the 2009 Latam champion), and Juan Camilo Acosta of Cali, Colombia. The trio will test with Team GDT.
In addition to the scholarship drivers, teams will be testing a variety of drivers hoping to become part of the Mazda Road to Indy. Testing with this year’s championship-winners, Team Pelfrey, will be Spencer Pigot (the team’s USF2000 driver who won 8 races in 2012), Palmer Audi and F3 racer Luca Orlandi and Chris Yano, owner of Brickyard Marketing and a 33 year-old father of three.
Testing a total of seven drivers, Andretti Autosport will have all three of their ladder teams in action. 2012 USF2000 champion Matthew Brabham testing with the Star Mazda team. Brabham, the son of 4-time IMSA GTP champion Geoff Brabham and grandson of F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham, will race in the 2013 Star Mazda Championship with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy. Also testing a star Mazda car will be country music star Reba McEntire’s son, Shelby Blackstock, who drove for Andretti Autosport USF2000 team in 2012. Current Star Mazda standouts Sage Karam (the 2010 USF2000 champion and 3-time race Star Mazda race winner in 2012) and Zach Veach will be testing the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights cars.
Juncos Racing, the team that won the 2010 championship with Conor Daly will test a pair of South American hotshoes, including female racer Julia Ballario, a top driver in both Formula Renault and touring cars, and Renan Guerra, who competes in the Brazilian GT championship. The team’s 2012 Star Mazda race winner, Martin Scuncio, will also test with the Juncos Racing Indy Lights team.
Also joining the test, in preparation for a full season in 2013 will be Kyle Kaiser, a graduate of the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear (the West Coast series for Formula Mazda racers). He made an impressive Star Mazda debut at Mazda Raceway, qualifying 8th for Race 1, and finishing 13th in both Race 1 and 2. He will driver at the test, and in 2013, for 4-time Star Mazda Championship-winning World Speed Motorsports. Also at the test, driving for his PRL Motorsports team, will be Patrick Lynn, an SCCA Pro Series racer looking to move up the ladder.
Teams participating include Andretti Autosport, which competes at all four levels of the Mazda Road to Indy (USF2000, Star Mazda, Indy Lights and IndyCar) and JDC Motorsports, winners of the Star Mazda Championship in 2007 with American Dane Cameron, 2009 with English racer Adam Christodoulou and 2011 with Frenchman Tristan Vautier. JDC fields cars in Star Mazda, USF2000, American Le Mans Prototype Lites and plans a 2-car Indy Lights team for 2013. Team GDT also fields a multi-car Star Mazda team and provides engineering support for other, smaller teams.
Other Mazda Road to Indy teams with multi-level programs include this year’s champions, Team Pelfrey, who compete in both USF2000 and Star Mazda. Juncos Racing, the team that won the championship with Conor Daly in 2010, fields efforts in both Star Mazda and Indy Lights. World Speed Motorsports operates the Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear, a regional Formula Mazda series with several levels. All Star Mazda teams, and contact information, can be found on the series web site at www.StarMazda.com under Series>Teams, or by clicking here.
Live timing of the two-day test will be available at http://www.starmazda.com/timing. Star Mazda Championship cars all carry two Replay XD1080 cameras to provide exciting driver POV footage for races that are part of the Mazda Motorsports Hour. A crew from the show, broadcast in the U.S. on Velocity TV (50 million households) and around the world on ESPN International (100 million + households) will be on hand taping features on the new drivers for future broadcasts. For the Velocity schedule, click here. For information on international air times, click here.
Star Mazda Championship and the Mazda Road to Indy
Utilizing the ladder formed by the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Indy Lights, the Mazda Road to Indy provides a clearly-defined path for career-minded young drivers to progress up through the ranks to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500… with scholarship funding for the champion at each level to move up and compete in the next higher series.
Ø The 2012 champion in the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda wins a scholarship to move up to 2013 The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Petri Suvanto won the 2011 championship with Cape Motorsports and has moved up to race in Star Mazda with Team Pelfrey.
Ø The 2012 champion in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear winsa scholarship to move up to the 2013 Indy Lights series. Tristan Vautier won the 2011 championship with JDC Motorsports and moved up to race in the 2012 Indy Lights championship with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Ø The 2012 Indy Lights champion wins a scholarship to move up to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar series – including the Indy 500. Josef Newgarden won the 2011 championship with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and has moved up to race in IndyCar with Sara Fisher Hartman Racing; Tristan Vautier won the 2012 championship and will be racing in IndyCar in 2013.
In addition to the scholarship prizes, drivers competing in the Star Mazda Championship and the Mazda Road to Indy series will benefit from the program in both immediate and longer-term ways. In addition to racing on many of the same weekends, teams and drivers from all three series also participate in joint advertising, marketing and promotional programs with INDYCAR and the Indy 500, including the Indy Summit, a comprehensive off-track program that trains drivers in the business side of sponsorships, how to use social media to advance their careers and offers the opportunity to meet and interact with top IndyCar officials, drivers and team owners.