By Road to Indy
PALMETTO, Fla. – The Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout will return to the Valley of the Sun as the Bondurant Racing School near Phoenix, Ariz., will again host the third annual event on December 8/9. At stake for the 20 champions of junior open-wheel series from around the globe is a $200,000 scholarship from Mazda to enter the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2019 – the first step on the world-renowned driver development ladder system.
This year’s field is likely to comprise drivers representing at least 11 countries from Official Feeder Series in North and South America as well as Europe, Asia, Australasia and, for the first time, the continent of Africa. Over 400 drivers have vied for an “entry ticket” to the Shootout, which awards each series’ champion a coveted invitation to the two-day outing. Champions must be between the ages of 14 and 25 by September 30 of 2018 to be considered and entry tickets are non-transferable.
The Bondurant Racing School main track – a 1.6-mile, 15-turn road course located at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park – will provide the playing field for drivers to showcase their skills during an intense two days of competition aboard Formula Mazda cars powered by Mazda rotary engines on Cooper tires.
Just as important as talent behind the wheel will be off-track presence as well as application of coaching feedback, and an illustrious panel of judges will once again be faced with a formidable task in determining the winner. Long-time factory Mazda Motorsports representatives Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long will return to the panel alongside former Pro Mazda champion and Indy Lights driver Victor Franzoni, and inaugural Shootout winner and 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew. They will be joined this year by USF2000 Race Director Jan Heylen, a former IndyCar and current sports car driver.
Motorsports veteran Scot Elkins will return as Shootout Director. Elkins’ past history with the Mazda Road to Indy includes roles as Race Director for both USF2000 and Pro Mazda, as well as Project Manager for the Tatuus USF-17 and PM-18 chassis, which debuted to rave reviews in 2017 and 2018 respectively. He is currently Deputy Race Director for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Race Director of the FIA Formula-E Championship and COO of the Motorsport Safety Foundation.
“The Bondurant Racing School provides an excellent platform for the Shootout and was a great host last year,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “We look forward to welcoming our international line-up of champions there in December. We have an outstanding panel of judges on board who, based on the standings in all of the feeder series I have been following, are set for some extremely tough decisions again this year. It will be an exciting two days and we look forward to crowning a new scholarship winner.”
Champions in several Official Feeder Series have already been crowned including Niall Murray (BRSCC British Formula Ford 1600), 23, of Dublin, Ireland and Ross Martin (SMRC Scottish FF1600), 17, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, both of whom will be returning as “veterans” to the Shootout.
New Zealand F1600 champion Callum Hedge of Auckland is the youngest in the field to date at 14. Others to have already earned Shootout invitations include Allan Croce (Brazil Kart Open), 18, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kellen Ritter (Toyo Tires F1600), 17, of North Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Raghul Rangasamy (MRF F1600), 25, of Mahabalipuram, India; Matt Round-Garrido (FF1600 Northern Ireland), 18, of Stourbridge, England; and Guillaume Archambault (Formula Tour 1600), 24, of Granby, Quebec, Canada.
“I am excited to attend the Shootout and witness first-hand the talent of 20 champions on track,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Obviously, all of these drivers bring championship-winning credentials to the table and it will be rewarding to honor the best of the best with a scholarship to USF2000 next year.”
A welcome reception and dinner will take place on Friday for all participants and their guests. All drivers will participate in three on-track sessions on Saturday with performance feedback from the judges at the conclusion of each outing. Following a final session on Sunday morning, the field will be cut and the finalists will move into two qualifying rounds followed by a mock race.
The full list of 2018 Official Feeder Series includes:
Australian Formula Ford Championship (Australia)
BRSCC Britcover/Avon Tires FF1600 Championship (England)
Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship (Ireland)
eKartingNews.com (North America)*
Formula Ford Festival (England)
Formula Ford Super Series (England)
Formula Tour 1600 (Canada)
MMSC MRF F1600 Championship (India)
NACAM Formula 4 Championship (Mexico)
New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship (New Zealand)
SCCA National Championship Runoffs (USA)
SMRC Scottish Formula Ford 1600 Championship (Scotland)
Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)
South African Investchem Formula 1600 Championship (South Africa)
Team USA Scholarship (USA)
Toyo Tires F1600 Championship (Canada)
Walter Hayes Trophy (England)
*to nominate a driver from the karting ranks
Official Feeder Series for At-Large Entries:
F1600 Formula F Championship Series (USA)
F2000 Championship Series (USA)
Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear (USA)
Formula Panam (Mexico)
Pacific F2000 Championship (USA)
A full list of participating drivers will be announced prior to the Shootout.
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