Two Canadian Karters Are Indoctrinated Into the World of USF2000 During Two-Day Tests at Andersen RacePark PALMETTO, Fla., Feb. 5 - Karters Bryson Schutte of Uxbridge, Ontario and Taylor Gates of Ajax, Ontario have a much better understanding of...
Two Canadian Karters Are Indoctrinated Into the World of USF2000 During Two-Day Tests at Andersen RacePark
PALMETTO, Fla., Feb. 5 - Karters Bryson Schutte of Uxbridge, Ontario and Taylor Gates of Ajax, Ontario have a much better understanding of what it would take to move from karting to the USF2000 National Championship after participating in intensive two-days tests at Andersen RacePark here recently.
The tests were prizes awarded by Andersen Racing as part of its role as the presenting sponsor of the not-for-profit Toronto Racing Association of Karters (TRAK) Series in 2009. TRAK stages many events at Goodwood Kartways in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada.
Andersen Racing is one of the most progressive development teams in North America. In addition to having its own 1-mile road course test track at its headquarters in Palmetto, Fla., it has a regional and a national karting team, a multi-car effort in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, and a multi-car effort in Firestone Indy Lights, the official development series of the IZOD IndyCar Series. A sister company, Andersen Promotions, is the administrator of the USF2000 National Championship, which is presented by Cooper Racing Tires and powered by Mazda. It is one of two series that are part of both the MAZDASPEED Motorsports driver development program and the Indy Racing League's Road to Indy program.
Schutte, 14, a ninth grader at Uxbridge Secondary School, and Gates, 15, a 10th grader at Ajax High School, won their two-day tests for their karting accomplishments last year. Schutte was the Junior Rotax TRAK champion, while Gates was the Senior Rotax TRAK champion.
A third, wild-card prize awarded by the team was split between two other karters: Dalton Kellet and Andrew Waring. Their tests will be conducted next month.
Andersen Racing and Andersen RacePark personnel have worked hard to develop a test program that is a true bridge between karting and formula car racing. Unlike other programs, drivers are not just put into a car with little supervision or feedback, nor do they simply follow a leader while making laps. Instead, each driver received one-and-one instruction from a professional race car engineer and driver coaches. All sorts of off-track instruction was included to cover things like seat fittings, track walks and data acquisition.
"It's a true, one-on-one course that Andersen Racing is making available to drivers from karting and other divisions of motorsports," said Remi Lanteigne, the director of engineering for Andersen Racing's Star Mazda team and the person who spearheaded the team's sponsorship of TRAK. "Driving techniques are important of course, but we try to provide an in-depth knowledge of what is expected of professional race car drivers. We cover what team owners, engineers and mechanics want as far as a driver's behavior and professionalism. We talk about seat fittings and pedal placements, what to ask during a test, what to look for when walking a track, how to look at data, and how to debrief.
"When they get into the car they learn braking techniques, how to improve their downshifting, how to get into and out of a corner, and how to interact with their engineer and their driver coach to lower their lap times," Lanteigne continued. "Andersen Racing has developed a whole program that gives a thorough introduction from A to Z to help drivers who are serious about motorsports to get off on the right foot.
"It's OK to go from karting straight to a USF2000 car; people should not be afraid to do it," Lanteigne added. "Andersen RacePark is a perfect place to learn. I was happy with how the tests went and the information we covered over the course of the two days. I was impressed with how focused both Bryson and Taylor were. They took in every word, and it really showed that we were getting through to them, as both ended up with similar lap times and they developed a good degree of skills that will help them build towards the future."
While Lanteigne was the primary engineer during the tests, both teens were coached by Andersen Racing's Anders Krohn and Jonny Baker, who finished first and second, respectively, in the F2000 Championship Series in 2008. Krohn will compete on the team's Star Mazda squad this year, while Baker is the team's director of driver development. Another Andersen Racing Star Mazda driver, Mikael Grenier of Stoneham, Quebec, was also on hand to provide tips during Schutte's test, which occurred Jan. 18-19 shortly before Grenier, Krohn and Baker participated in a test themselves at Sebring, Fla. Gates' test at Andersen RacePark was a week earlier, on Jan. 11-12.
"It was a great experience; I learned so much!" Schutte said. "It was my first time driving a formula car of any type. I leaned a completely different style of driving. I learned how to shift differently, and I learned how important it is that the car is balanced when it goes through the corners.
"I think I did around 70 to 100 laps," Schutte added. "Andersen RacePark is quite challenging. You have to be a lot easier and smoother with your steering and getting on the power in a formula car than you do in a kart. I learned how to look over data and how to apply what the data says to how you drive the track so you can lower your times. Sometimes I look over data in karting, but not always. Once I got it, it made a lot of sense."
Schutte, who won 11 races and had 11 second-place finishes out of the 28 races he competed in last year, plans to move into Formula Fords later this year. "This test will definitely help," he said. 'I had three race car drivers coaching me when I was on the track: Jonny Baker, Anders Krohn and Mikael Grenier. I didn't know Mikael but I'd read about him. They were all great, and I want to thank Remi and Andersen Racing for organizing the whole prize and the test. It was great!"
Gates was equally enthusiastic. "It was incredible!" he said. "Everything was so well planned out. The coaching was insane; it was unlike anything you can get anywhere else, because it was all one-on-one feedback. Driving the car itself was incredible too.
"I learned a lot of different techniques that will help me in my kart," added Gates, who will be racing in the TRAK series as well as at Mosport International Raceway and in the Eastern Canadian Rotax Challenge Series this year. "I learned different braking techniques and how you go into a corner and things like that. The Pi data acquisition helped me see where I had to improve and it helped me understand what the engineer and the coaches were saying. I never drove a formula car before, but I would love to have the opportunity to drive one in the future.
"I thought the track was cool too," Gates continued. "I liked the little hairpins and the long sweepers. You have to be very smooth. But mainly the coaching with Anders and Jonny and Remi was incredible. It was beneficial, for sure."