STAR MAZDA PARTNERS WITH PERFORMANCE FRICTION TO EXPAND ROAD TO INDY' PROGRAM WITH INDY LIGHTS TEST FOR SERIES CHAMPION Pacoima, CA /June 7, 2010 -- Adam Christodoulou, 2009 champion of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- and...
STAR MAZDA PARTNERS WITH PERFORMANCE FRICTION TO EXPAND ROAD TO INDY' PROGRAM WITH INDY LIGHTS TEST FOR SERIES CHAMPION
Pacoima, CA /June 7, 2010 -- Adam Christodoulou, 2009 champion of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- and co-driver (with 2008 Star Mazda champion John Edwards) of the GT class-winning #68 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 in last weekend's Grand-Am race at Lime Rock Park -- will test an Andersen Racing Indy Lights car on Thursday, June 10 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The test, made possible by Performance Friction, is part of a previously-announced announced an expansion of the Indy Racing League's 'Road to Indy' program in which the 2009 and 2010 Star Mazda series champion is guaranteed a test with a top Firestone Indy Lights team.
"I've been an open-wheel racer all my life, so I've very excited to get back behind the wheel of a single-seater for my test with the Andersen Racing Indy Lights team," says Christodoulou. "And the fact that my time in the car will take place during a private test with several top teams participating will give me a good comparison of my pace against other the top drivers in the series. Right now I'm focused 100% on helping Mazda win the 2010 Grand-Am GT class, but I'm definitely keeping my options open for the future. The opportunities that arise from being part of the Star Mazda Championship, the Road to Indy and the MAZDASPEED Ladder are much greater than anything that exists in Europe. These programs have provided a huge boost to my career and I would recommend them to any driver who is serious about advancing their ambitions to have a professional career in motorsports."
Christodoulou scored three wins, two pole positions and nine podiums to win the 2009 Star Mazda Championship, a title he clinched in the last race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In previous seasons, the quick young Englishman would have graduated to the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, but with that series on hiatus for 2010, Mazda arranged for Christodoulou to co-drive a Mazda RX-8 in the Grand-Am GT class with 2008 American Star Mazda champion (and 2009 Atlantic champion) John Edwards. This past Sunday, that pairing proved successful in not only scoring their first win of the season, but also leading a train of three more RX-8's across the finish line, making it a 1-2-3-4 finish for Mazda.
"Our goal has always been to provide our drivers with the most competitive, cost-effective and comprehensive opportunity to advance their career," says Star Mazda Championship founder and CEO Gary Rodrigues. "This is another step forward in creating a clearly-defined path for Road to Indy drivers whose goal is the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indy 500. We'd like to thank Performance Friction Company and Andersen Racing for their support in making this possible."
The test is being conducted in cooperation with Performance Friction, the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier to both the Star Mazda Championship and the newly-announced Cooper Tires Presents USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda; Performance Friction is also the overwhelming brake component choice for teams competing in the Firestone Indy Lights. All three series are part of the Indy Racing League's 'Road to Indy' program. PFC also supplies a variety of open-wheel series in Europe, Japan, Australia as well as NASCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, ALMS, FIA, ACO, JGTC, V8 Supercar and Grand-Am just to name a few.
"The Star Mazda Championship is a terrific series that produces some of the top racing talent in the sport today," says Don Burgoon, President of Performance Friction. "Open-wheel racing is in our company DNA and we're doing all we can to support these rising stars as they climb the motorsports ladder. It is our goal to support the Road to Indy program at every level and provide these drivers with the very best equipment on the way up."
Christodoulou's test is the final element of a comprehensive prize package that drivers in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship are also competing for. That yet-to-be-name champion will also receive a test with Andersen Racing's Indy Lights team, in addition to $100,000 in cash and a scholarship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder to drive a full season in a Mazda-powered race car in a series that represents the next step up the ladder. Drivers will also be competing for the VISIT FLORIDA Cup, a 7-race championship-within-a-championship; the grand prize for the top-finishing driver in those events is a custom-designed dream vacation in Florida courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing corporation and sponsor of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship television package. In total, drivers in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship will be competing for prizes valued in excess of $1.5 million.
The Star Mazda Championship is also part of the Indy Racing League 'Road to Indy,' an innovative and high-profile new driver development program designed to bridge the gap between the premier open-wheel racing divisions and the entry level open-wheel series by creating a clear career path for aspiring racing drivers; it includes Firestone Indy Lights, The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.J "With Andersen Racing's involvement in all steps on the Road to Indy ladder, we are delighted to work with Performance Friction and Star Mazda in making this exciting test program a reality," says Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen. "My long term relationship with the folks at PFC, coupled with our involvement in and support of the Star Mazda Championship for the past six years, makes this an easy decision. So many Star Mazda drivers in recent years have successfully transitioned into Indy Lights, and now with the support of PFC, more drivers can sample the next step properly. We look forward to seeing what Adam can do at the wheel of one of our cars at Mid-Ohio."
Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone Indy Lights' 13-race schedule features eight races on road courses/street circuits and five races on ovals, including the famed 2.5-mile circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for nearly $4 million in prize money in cars that are second only in speed to the IZOD IndyCar Series at most tracks they visits.
"The Star Mazda race car is just the right vehicle, with the right horsepower and driving characteristics, to produce drivers ready to hit the ground running in Firestone Indy Lights," says Roger Bailey, Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights. "And this test for the Star Mazda Champion is just the sort of opportunity that the Road to Indy was designed to create, both for the driver in the car and the company sponsoring the test. This is the first of many more such things to come for the Road to Indy program."