One of the most intriguing stories of this year’s Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires off-season has been the impressive arrival of Swan-RJB Motorsports. The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda team is a new collaboration between RJB Motorsports and Swan Motorsports, and the united program has brought in a third component that only serves to show the team’s dedication to success and driver development. Former CART and IRL driver Alex Barron has joined the operation as its driver coach, and the positive effects of Barron’s efforts have been seen immediately during the team’s recent test outings.
“I always enjoy working with Alex at the track,” offered Mirl Swan, Team Principal and Lead Engineer. “He has a vast amount of experience not only racing, but also in testing and development. Often times, he can relay things to me about the car during a session before the driver even pits to be debriefed. It’s not only an eye he has for what the driver is experiencing – oversteer, understeer, for example – but, it’s what he sees dynamically about the cars. He can identify characteristics about the car itself, down to the smallest detail. He relays that information back to me instantly. It has a profound impact on our rate of car and driver development.”
“Alex is easy going, but fiercely competitive,” Swan continued. “He always has an absolute professional approach to the program, and in working with the drivers. We’re looking forward to the 2018 race season.”
Barron will work closely with both the drivers and the engineering team to push for constant improvement and continued success. His vast experience at high levels of the sport will provide the team’s drivers with an invaluable education. After a stellar and much-heralded karting career, Alex started his open wheel career in USF2000 and quickly advanced to win the KOOL Toyota Atlantic Championship in 1997. He would go on to drive for teams like Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers, Dale Coyne Racing and Team Penske, winning Indy Racing League events at Nashville Speedway with Blair Racing and at Michigan with Mo Nunn Racing.
“For me, working with the team, being involved with driver coaching and engineering has been very positive, as I have been learning about the car and working with the young drivers who have great talent,” Barron added. “Mirl and I have worked together in years’ past with great success. We have come from the same learning foundation, including karting and open wheel racing with success over the years in Formula Atlantic. The team is working very hard in the off-season to get ready for the start of the year in St Petersburg. I think the USF2000 car is going to be a great stepping stone to move forward up the ladder into the higher levels of the Mazda Road to Indy. The cars are reliable and fast.”
The team plans to run three cars in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2018 and they will be back on-track later this month to continue their testing program.