Young Aussie to set out on the 'Road to Indy'
Nathan Morcom's motor racing career is set to move up a gear on March 17-18, when he contests the opening rounds of the USF2000 National Championship at Sebring.
The 18 year-old Australian has signed to drive a Van Diemen for leading F2000 team Primus Racing at the high-profile meeting, which features the 12-hour American Le Mans Series sports car classic.
Morcom's move up to F2000 comes after he competed in four different categories during 2010.
He began the year by contesting the first half of New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series during January.
He left early to return to Australia in time for his second national Formula Ford Championship campaign, with detours to the Eastern Creek round of Australian F3 Championship, and an eight-hour production touring car race at the same Sydney circuit.
"Last year was a 'try it and see' exercise in many ways," Morcom said. "Although I did the full Australian Formula Ford Championship, I was already focusing on moving up to the next level in 2011.
"Driving a 'wings and slicks' car for the first time in New Zealand was a steep learning curve, but I managed a seventh placing in only my fifth TRS race.
"More important was the discovery that this type of car suited my driving style better than a Formula Ford.
"That was confirmed when I drove the F3 car. My lack of experience was a disadvantage in qualifying, but eighth, sixth and fourth placings in the three races were very encouraging.
"I kept my hand in at the end of the year by co-driving a BMW 335i to second place in the Eastern Creek Eight-Hour. We beat four of the five all-wheel-drive turbos in the race -- that was satisfying!"
While Morcom was looking forward to getting back into a 'wings and slicks' car, he acknowledged that Sebring would be no cake-walk.
"USF2000 is part of the Indy Car 'Road to Indy' driver development program, so there's bound to be a top class field at Sebring," he said.
"Everyone will be trying that much harder with the ALMS teams there, but as a rookie I'll be concentrating on being competitive and staying out of trouble rather than going for glory."
Morcom added that choosing Primus Racing, managed by Jon Baytos, was a no-brainer.
"Jon is an American racing icon," he said. "He's done it all as a team manager, from 'development' categories like F2000 all the way up to Indy Cars.
"He had a hand in the careers of Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jnr., who all won the Indianapolis 500, and last year he helped Daniel Erickson win Rookie of the Year in the F2000 Championship Series.
"I'm looking forward to learning a lot from Jon this year."
After Sebring, Morcom will barely have time to catch his breath before the next USF2000 round at St Petersburg the following weekend.
That race meeting, on a street circuit through the Florida city, will be headlined by the opening round of the 2011 Indy Car Series.
-source: nathan morcom PR