Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 Teams Set for Four Days of Running at Homestead
PALMETTO, Fla. – Teams and drivers from all three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will converge next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida for an official Spring Training test
. The four-day outing will comprise over six hours of testing for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors on the 1.5-mile oval on Monday, February 27, followed by two days of running on the 2.21-mile road course for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, then one final day on the road course for Indy Lights on Thursday, March 2.
The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires offers scholarships at every level for talented drivers to make their way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. A total of 23 of the 33 drivers who qualified for last year’s historic 100th Indianapolis 500 were graduates of one or more of the three open-wheel development series. More than $3.5 million in scholarships and awards are up for grabs during the 2017 season which will commence – in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series – on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 10-12. Quality USF2000 Field to Debut Exciting New Tatuus USF-17
The new season marks a fresh start for USF2000 with the exciting Tatuus USF-17 chassis replacing the venerable Van Diemen which has provided the backbone of the series since 1999. The USF-17 features a full carbon composite and aluminum honeycomb monocoque which meets the current FIA F4 safety standards and has attracted new teams such as Benik, DEForce Racing, Exclusive Autosport and Newman Wachs Racing to take on the established might of Cape Motorsports, Pabst Racing, ArmsUp Motorsports and Team Pelfrey.
The St. Petersburg-based Cape brothers, Dominic and Nicholas, remain as the benchmark having guided their charges to no fewer than 10 championships since the turn of the century, including the last six in a row. Ricky Donison is the newest young charger seeking to follow in their footsteps. Donison, from Bangalore, India, has raced karts extensively and made a solid car racing debut last fall when he finished on the podium in each of his first three Formula 4 races at the F1 Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Four USF2000 veterans are among the entries, headed by Canadian Parker Thompson who has joined Exclusive Autosport (front-runners in F1600 competition in Canada for the past several years) after finishing a close second in 2016. He will be joined by U.S.-based Australian Luke Gabin, who notched a quartet of podium appearances en route to fifth in the standings, while last year’s top two USF2000 rookies, Robert Megennis, from New York, N.Y., and Dakota Dickerson, from San Diego, Calif., will represent Team Pelfrey and Newman Wachs respectively.
New York-based Andre Castro, a standout last year in the Skip Barber Racing Championship, and Dutch karting standout Rinus VeeKay will join Dickerson at Newman Wachs, which is making a welcome return to the sport seven years after winning the Atlantic Championship with Floridian Jonathan Summerton.
Kyle Kirkwood, from Jupiter, Fla., who finished third in last year’s F4 championship and shone in England as a Team USA Scholarship winner, seems set to shake down the new Benik team’s USF-17.
Pabst Racing will field at least two cars – for Brazilian Lucas Kohl, who claimed a best finish of sixth during his debut campaign, and Guyanan rookie Calvin Ming, who excelled last year both in F1600 and F4 – while ArmsUp Motorsports, which guided Brazilian Victor Franzoni to third place in the 2016 standings, will run Skip Barber graduate Devin Wojcik, from Syracuse, N.Y., who dipped his toes in the water with a one-off outing with the team last year at Road America. Another returning team, RJB Motorsports, has snapped up teenager Horton Chandler, from Ann Arbor, Mich., to drive its new Tatuus. John Cummiskey Racing also will be present with two cars and drivers yet to be named.
DEForce Racing, a new entity headed by former IndyCar racer David Martinez, has entered two cars for Kory Enders, from Warwick, N.Y., who has been sharpening his skills already this year in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, and F4 veteran Moises de la Vara, from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Acknowledged karting star Oliver Askew, 20, from Jupiter, Fla., burst upon the scene last year in England when he won a Team USA Scholarship, then secured the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, earning himself a ride in USF2000 this year and the right to carry the prestigious Soul Red colors on a brand-new Tatuus.
Live timing of all sessions will be available on the respective series websites, indylights.com, promazda.com and usf2000.com, as well as on indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App.