Local Angles Abound For RLR/Andersen Racing and Mid-Ohio
PALMETTO, Fla., Aug. 5 - Reporters looking for local angles for their coverage of the races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend will find many with RLR/Andersen Racing, which will field cars for Mario Romancini and Ali Jackson in Firestone Indy Lights action at the Lexington, Ohio facility.
Andersen Racing is headquartered at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla., which is home to its multi-car Star Mazda and karting teams and features the team's 1-mile road course test track. Andersen Racing is also the development team of Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR), however, and its Firestone Indy Lights operation is based at RLR's shops in Hilliard, Ohio.
At least nine team members are residents of the Buckeye State, beginning with Walter Preston, the team's director of engineering, who hails from Granville, and including Roland Kirby, the team's transporter manager, who is from Marysville.
Two men who work on the No. 5 that Romancini drives, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America, hail from Ohio. They are that entry's lead mechanic, Jim Volini, who is from Columbus, and its second mechanic, Bobby Garcia, who lives in Circleville.
Both the lead mechanic, Ed Daood, and the second mechanic, Ryder Drumm, who work on Jackson's car, the Moyvalley Golf and Hotel Resort/Allied Interior Products No. 9, live near the shop in Hilliard.
Three other Ohio residents who work for RLR/Andersen Racing are engineer Mike Reggio of Columbus; Claudio Novoa, a lead mechanic from Dublin; and Brandon Dickson, a second mechanic and a team transporter driver from Hilliard.
Romancini is from Sao Paulo, Brazil but he lives in Miami, Fla. when he's in the states. Jackson, however, a native of Moyvalley, Country Kildare, Ireland, has been staying in Hilliard since he joined RLR/Andersen Racing in May in order to be near the team.
Jackson, 20, is doing his best to contribute to his adopted home state while he's in America. He accepted an invitation to be one of the drivers who will visit the Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio at 10 a.m. Thursday as part of the Racing for Kids program. Robbie Buhl, the national spokesperson for Racing for Kids and a former IndyCar driver, will also be on hand. The Racing for Kids show car is slated to be available for patients' photos, and the drivers will sign autographs and distribute Racing for Kids baseball caps and coloring books.
Jackson and Romancini will be competing in their first race at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Both series rookies, they are two of 19 drivers entered in the Firestone Indy Lights race Sunday morning.
Andersen Racing's team owners have been active at Mid-Ohio many times in the past, including in roles other than team owners. Dan Andersen promoted many races here during the 10 years that he owned the U.S. F2000 series, while his brother, team co-owner and Firestone Indy Lights team manager John Andersen, served as director of race operations for the Cooper Tires F2000 Championship for many years.
SCCA Runoffs fans have heard the name "Mike Andersen" many times over the track public address system. Mike Andersen won the SCCA Formula Continental national championship in 1999, 2001 and 2003, all at Mid-Ohio. Not to be confused with Mike Anderson of Anza, Calif., who is another driver, Mike Andersen of Green Pond, N.J. is Dan and Ruth Andersen's son and he's also the chief financial officer and Webmaster for Andersen Racing.
His sister, Michelle Kish, was the series administrator for the Cooper Tires F2000 Championship for 10 years, so she's also worked at Mid-Ohio many times in the past. She's currently the team manager for Andersen Racing's Star Mazda effort as well as the overall manager of the Florida operations.
Andersen Racing competed in both Firestone Indy Lights and F2000 races on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course last year. Jonny Baker, the team's director of driver development, sat on the pole and won a F2000 race at Mid-Ohio last July 13 to help Andersen Racing win that series' 2008 team championship and finish first and second in driver points with Anders Krohn and Baker, respectively.
Last year RLR/Andersen Racing was never out of the top 10 in Firestone Indy Lights racing at Mid-Ohio, as J.R. Hildebrand posted a fifth- and a sixth-place finish for the team and Andrew Prendeville placed ninth and eighth in the doubleheader held here last July.