AVON, Ind., Feb. 16 - McCormack Motorsports will field an entry for Rookie of the Year hopeful Brandon Erwin of Denton, Texas in the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series, team owner Dennis McCormack announced today. Erwin, 25,...
AVON, Ind., Feb. 16 - McCormack Motorsports will field an entry for Rookie of the Year hopeful Brandon Erwin of Denton, Texas in the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series, team owner Dennis McCormack announced today.
Erwin, 25, will drive the team's G-Force Olds Aurora No. 30, which uses Firestone Firehawk tires, beginning with the season opener, the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., March 18.
To prepare for that event the team plans to test at Phoenix on March 7-8.
Erwin's previous racing experience has been primarily in sprint cars, late models and karts. He is going to take a break from his classes at the University of North Texas to devote all of his time to this opportunity with McCormack Motorsports, and he can't wait to focus totally on the sport.
"My goal is to become a top Indy car driver," Erwin said. "All of my life I've been hoping to get an opportunity to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Making it in the Indy Racing League won't be easy, but I've accepted the challenge and I'm ready to go right now!"
Erwin passed his Indy Racing League rookie test with flying colors on Oct. 18 at Texas Motor Speedway. Being a Texas native, he's sure to have many supporters in the grandstands when the Indy Racing Northern Light series visits that track for the Casino Magic 500 on June 9 and the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 16.
"It only took him 56 laps to complete his rookie test, and he ran five of his last 10 laps that day at speeds faster than 210 mph," said McCormack. "He ran faster than the team's regular driver had run in qualifying at the same track a few days earlier. Johnny Rutherford [a three-time Indy 500 winner who is now an Indy Racing driver coach] was very pleased with him."
"I think Brandon is going to be a credit to the League," Rutherford said following the test. "I can't state enough how impressive he was in his rookie test."
Erwin comes from the sprint car ranks at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas. "From the start he has shown a strong awareness of his position on the track, the cars around him and a maturity in racing seldom seen in a rookie," said Lanny Edwards, the track's owner and promoter. "The USA sprint cars at Devil's Bowl are a very competitive and experienced class. Brandon has demonstrated on several occasions that he drives ahead of the car and avoids potential accidents. He is very impressive in heavy traffic situations."
In 1999 Erwin competed in more than 25 dirt-track late model races across the country, participating in Hav-A-Tampa, Southern United Professional Racing (SUPR) and Southern All Star Racing events. He has also raced International Motor Contest Assn. (IMCA) sprint cars at North Texas Motor Speedway in Royse City, Texas and Boyd Raceway in Boyd, Texas. He began racing at the age of 12 in karts, and he finished second and third in International Kart Federation national championships in 1992. He won his first go-kart national championship in 1991.
Erwin will have an excellent coach in Dennis McCormack in his pursuit of the Indy Racing League's Rookie of the Year award. McCormack helped Fabrizio Barbazza and Randy Lanier win Indy 500 Rookie of the Year awards, and he also had two CART Indy Car World Series Rookie of the Year drivers: Barbazza and John Jones. He was an integral part of Barbazza's third-place finish in the 1987 Indy 500, and he was the team owner of the car which Robbie Groff drove to ninth place as a rookie 10 years later.
McCormack has assembled a strong team of experienced racers to help Erwin achieve his goals.
McCormack Motorsports has been a mainstay of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series since its conception, fielding cars for a variety of drivers since the IRL's inaugural race in 1996. Raul Boesel drove one of its cars to a fifth-place finish at Walt Disney World Speedway in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in 1999. Last year it worked in conjunction with Jonathan Byrd Motorsports to field cars for J.J. Yeley, Ronnie Johncox, Robby Unser and Jon Herb.
Dennis McCormack has 33 years of experience in motorsports. In addition to the IRL and CART, he has worked in the Can Am, Trans Am, Indy Lights and Formula 5000 series. He began his motorsports career in 1968, working his way up through the ranks as a mechanic, crew chief and team manager before becoming a team owner when he formed McCormack Motorsports in 1990.
He is a native of Scituate, Mass. He and his wife, Felicia, reside in Brownsburg, Ind.