Pecorari Impresses Everyone With Strong Season of Star Mazda Action ASTON, Pa., Nov. 15 - Robbie Pecorari may be quiet and unassuming, but he's also one of the brightest young talents in American open-wheel racing today. Who says? Well, how...
Pecorari Impresses Everyone With Strong Season of Star Mazda Action
ASTON, Pa., Nov. 15 - Robbie Pecorari may be quiet and unassuming, but he's also one of the brightest young talents in American open-wheel racing today.
Well, how about the people who run the Cart Stars of Tomorrow, the panels that award the Skip Barber Formula Dodge scholarships and the Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic tests, the folks who run the Red Bull Driver Search and now the organizers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear?
The 18-year-old from Aston, Pa. finished second in the 12-race Star Mazda championship this year, and earned its prestigious Rookie of the Year award. Driving for Andersen Walko Racing, he took first-place points three times: in the series' only oval race at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) in Fountain, Colo.; at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.; and at Mosport International Raceway in Mosport, Ontario.
The race at PPIR was Pecorari's first oval-track race ever. His victory in September at Road Atlanta was also very impressive, as he won the pole and led every lap of the race.
Pecorari had one pole and a total of seven podium finishes and 10 top-five finishes in all. And, in a series that is known for 40-car fields and some spectacular accidents, Pecorari never finished out of the top 10 in the series' 12 events.
As a series rookie, Pecorari was making his first start ever at almost half of the tracks that held Star Mazda races this year. The only driver who finished ahead of him in the point standings, Raphael Matos, who ended up with 453 points to Pecorari's 441, did not have that challenge. The Brazilian finished seventh in the series last year, and therefore already had experience at most of the tracks the series visited this year.
In 2004 Pecorari was a semi-finalist in the Red Bull Driver Search. In 2003 he was a Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic test award recipient and a Skip Barber Formula Dodge national championship scholarship winner. In 2003 he was the Cart Stars of Tomorrow ICA national champion.
Dan Andersen, a co-owner of the team that fielded Pecorari in Star Mazda competition this year, says that Pecorari is one of the best young drivers he's ever seen. He's seen a lot of them, since he was a co-administrator of the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 series in the nineties.
"I believe Robbie to be one of the most naturally talented drivers I have seen in the 15 years I have been involved in open-wheel racing," Andersen said. "He has a quiet confidence that enables him to get in anything and drive it well almost immediately, and he's an absolute delight to work with, as his feedback is excellent and his temperament is totally professional."
Pecorari has made believers out of a lot of people like Andersen, but now he faces a battle that in his case is even harder to surmount than coming up with a good set-up, saving one's tires, staying out of trouble, passing other drivers, not letting other drivers pass him, and recording podium finishes and victories.
He needs to find sponsorship or backing of some type to continue to advance up racing's ladder. He's looking at various series for 2006, including Formula Atlantic, but so far he doesn't have a ride.
Pecorari tested an Atlantic car Nov. 7-8 at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz. with Brooks Associates Racing. "Robbie...wasted no time in setting top speeds and was notably faster than the track record," said team owner John Brooks, the Toyota Atlantic series' team owner of the year for 2005.
"I really want to be a professional race car driver and I think I've proven that I have talent, but I need help to make it to the big leagues," Pecorari said.
"Without my parents' help there would have been no money behind me this year, and they've done all they can do," added Pecorari, a freshman at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pa. His primary sponsor this year was SAI Hydraulics of Trainer, Pa., a family business.
For more information and/or to help, Pecorari's Web site is located at robbiepecorari.com.