Team owner Jeremy Dale eager to see the two Honda-backed series blossom in 2016… but says confusion needs to be cleared up
JDX Racing team owner Jeremy Dale is hoping to run two cars in the new Formula 4 United States championship and two cars in Formula Lites, which had its inaugural season in 2015. However, he told Motorsport.com it’s important that each series is clearly defined, since F4 and FLites will run a common tub, both cars will be built by Crawford Composites, both will be powered by Honda, and both will be governed by SCCA Pro Racing.
“There’s been confusion because I think the perception was that Formula Lites had been left for dead by the arrival of Formula 4,” said Dale, whose driver Vinicius Papareli won the FLites championship this year. “In fact, it’s a very natural progression from F4 to Lites, and so it’s important for that confusion to be corrected and for both series to gain momentum together by showing one to be a stepping stone to the next.”
Motorsport.com sources have suggested that the FLites car, the Crawford FL15, will receive a new turbocharged Honda engine for 2016, hiking power from its current 220hp level to nearer 270. This will better define it from Formula 4 cars, whose Honda units will produce an FIA-mandated 158hp. The change in power for the FL15s could even be announced as soon as the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis next month.
Dale would not be drawn on such a change, but said: “If that power increase is true, then yes, that will help Honda clarify it’s got a clearly defined next step after F4.”
JDX Racing expansion
Dale saw JDX take third in the IMSA GT3 Cup this year, running a Porsche for Angel Benitez. He intends his sports car team to continue, but has big ambitions for the open-wheel side of his operation.
“I’ve already been in contact with drivers who have done F4 in other countries," he said. "I think JDX is appealing to them to have a team that can take them from Formula 4 into Formula Lites. The affordability and the global nature of F4 has given it some real momentum.
“In the last month I’ve tested three new kids in my Lites car who I think would all make F4 candidates first, before moving into Lites.
“But I think in my perfect world, JDX will run two cars in each series. We think they’re a great fit together, we think there’s a lot of support from SCCA, from Honda, from Pirelli and a common desire to make this really work.”
Commenting on grid numbers, Dale admitted that his desire to see FLites get more attention was because there will “easily be
between 20 and 25 cars on the F4 grid here next year.” By contrast, Formula Lites made a very quiet start in 2015 – there were never more than seven starters for any race, and on a couple occasions grid numbers dropped as low as four.
“Thankfully, I’m hearing that the Lites grid will be up into the teens in 2016,” Dale added. “Formula 4 is a great chance to take a kid out of karting or out of a Skip Barber car and give them their first taste of a proper racecar. But Formula Lites is the next step – hopefully a decent step up in power, and certainly more aero.”
Budgets and schedules
Dale admitted he was disappointed that the F4 and FLites schedules won’t overlap as much as he’d expected. Of the eight two-race weekends for Formula Lites and five three-race Formula 4 events, only three times – New Jersey Motorsports Park in June, Road Atlanta in September and Homestead in October – will they be racing at the same venue at the same time.
This may change however, since two of FLites’ eight venues are yet to be confirmed. Nonetheless, Dale insists budgets are reasonable.
“I don’t know because we haven’t been told the exact costs so we haven’t been able to do any accurate math,” he remarked, “but I believe a season of US F4 won’t be too far north of $120,000. Where it would get expensive is if we start testing as much as I’d like to be testing. If I want to go to a road course, it will cost probably $12-$14,000 for a day’s testing. So once you build in travel costs accommodation costs, going testing is almost as expensive as going racing.
“So it’s a tough sponsorship market. I mean, it’s hard enough to get sponsors for an IndyCar team despite the Indy 500 being part of the series! But based on what we know, we think basic budgets are very reasonable.”
Boost for karting graduates
Earlier last week, the US Formula 4 partners announced an award package for the SuperKarts! USA S1 series champion, to encourage graduation from karts to cars. And it confirmed the process would start with the 2015 champion.
SCCA Pro Racing, Crawford Composites, and Honda Performance Development combined to contribute to the cost of the F4 series and the cost of the car. The SuperKarts! USA [SKUSA] S1 class (Pro Stock Moto) is the pinnacle shifter-karting class in the SKUSA series, running a spec Honda CR125 engine, with drivers aged between 15 and 30.
The awards package, which provides a total of $16,100 contribution, will include:
- F4 chassis discount (provided by Crawford Composites, Inc.) - $3500
- F4 series entry fee waiver (provided by SCCA Pro Racing) - $6000 value
- F4 engine lease (provided by HPD)- $6600 value
These awards will take immediate effect with the order of a Crawford F4 chassis, the signing of a Honda F4 engine lease agreement and a commitment to the full 2016 SCCA Pro F4 championship program,
“SKUSA is pleased to have a cooperative alliance with SCCA Pro Racing and the F4 United States championship,” said Tom Kutscher, owner and CEO of SuperKarts! USA. “Both entities represent the premier organizations in their respective circles, and Superkarts! USA is pleased to provide the platform for young talent to flourish. For those interested in pursuing a career in motorsport, or those looking to continue in karting, we couldn’t be more pleased.”