Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (July 30, 2012) – What do INDYCAR race winners-turned-team owners Jimmy Vasser and Bryan Herta, Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, American Le Mans Series Champion Joey Hand and Grand-Am Rolex Series Champion Andy Lally have in common with rising stars such as Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden, Bryan Sellers, Conor Daly, Connor De Phillippi and Spencer Pigot? They are all former winners of prestigious Team USA Scholarships which since 1990 have provided opportunities for young American race car drivers to display their talents on an international stage early in their careers.
The quest to see who will follow in their footsteps continues next weekend during the combined IZOD IndyCar Series/American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patron event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where more than a dozen candidates will be interviewed by an illustrious panel of judges.
The candidates will vie for three fully funded rides in England later this year. Two youngsters will be entered under the Team USA Scholarship/Cliff Dempsey Racing banner in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 27-28 and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 3-4, while one slightly more experienced driver will be invited to contest the final two rounds of the Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone on October 6-7.
This year’s contenders are: Neil Alberico, 19, from Redlands, Calif. – Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Luigi Biangardi, 16, from Chicago, Ill. – Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda (one pole) Matthew Brabham, 18, from Manalapan, Fla. – Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda (one win, three poles) Tristan DeGrand, 16, from Eureka, Mo. – Skip Barber Racing Summer Series race winner Jake Eidson, 17, from Littleton, Colo. – Skip Barber Winter Series champion and Summer Series points leader) Conner Ford, 16, from Carson City, Nev. – Pacific Formula F Super Series (six wins) Sean Johnston, 21, from Mt. Shasta, Calif. – IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge points leader (two wins, two poles) Bobby Kelley, 20, from Riverside, Calif. – Pacific F2000 points leader (three wins, two poles) Jack Mitchell Jr., 16, from Clarendon Hills, Ill. – Skip Barber Summer Series (three wins)/Canadian F1600 (one win) Brandon Newey, 19, from Carmel, Ind. – F1600 Championship Series points leader (two wins) Tristan Nunez, 16, from Boca Raton, Fla. – Cooper Tires Prototype Lites points leader (six wins, seven poles) Adrian Starrantino, 17, from Simi Valley, Calif. – Skip Barber Summer Series (three wins) Colin Thompson, 18, from Perkasie, Pa. – Cooper Tires USF2000/F1600 Championship Series (one win) Falco Wauer, 16, lives Drobak, Norway – UK Formula 4 (five wins)/European Formula Ford
The adjudicating panel will include INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard, American Le Mans Series President Scott Atherton, Director of Motorsports at Mazda North American Operations John Doonan, Cooper Tires Director of Motorsports Chris Pantani, USF2000 series promoter Dan Andersen, ALMS team Level 5 Motorsports Race Engineer Jeff Braun and, representing the Road Racing Drivers Club’s widely acclaimed SAFEisFAST.com initiative, Performance Prime founder Dr. Jacques Dallaire and PitFit Training President Jim Leo. Former Team USA Scholarship winners Herta, Kimball, Hildebrand, Newgarden, Hand and Sellers also will be on hand to assist and offer advice.
“The Team USA Scholarship continues to be an important part of shaping our home-grown stars of INDYCAR,” said Bernard. “Drivers such as J.R. Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden have come through this program and I look forward to working with the panel to identifying future talent for our sport.”
“I’m excited to meet some of the up-and-coming racers with the Team USA Scholarship program,” added Kimball, who recently stepped onto an IZOD IndyCar Series podium for the first time after guiding his No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing entry to a fine second place on the streets of Toronto. “Having the opportunity to compete as part of Team USA in 2004 is still one of my best memories as a young driver and a real help to my career. I look forward to seeing this year’s candidates and hopefully I can pass along some advice to them too.”
Source: Team USA Scholarships