The next American stars of tomorrow
The next American stars of tomorrow
The next group of young American stars who could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Andy Lally, Joey Hand, Bryan Sellers, Dane Cameron and Conor Daly has been selected.
A dozen young American drivers representing a variety of junior categories have been chosen as candidates for this year’s prestigious Team USA Scholarships.
The selection process will continue during this weekend’s Road America event where each of the contenders will have an opportunity to meet and be interviewed by influential personalities from the auto racing industry.
Six finalists will progress to a shootout in early September at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California..
Ultimately, two winners will be invited to represent both the scholarship supporters and their country at the traditional end-of-season Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone in England. Last year’s Walter Hayes event (named after the founder of Formula Ford, which, in its 48th year, remains as the most productive feeder category of all) attracted almost 120 drivers from around the world.
The Team USA Scholarship, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015, is made possible by contributions from a broad spectrum of companies and individuals. Other past winners include Buddy Rice, A.J. Allmendinger, Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden.
The drivers making the “shot-list” include:
• Ben Auriemma, 17, Manhasset, N.Y., F1600 Championship Series
• Sam Chastain, 22, Noblesville, Ind., F2000 Championship Series
• Dakota Dickerson, 18, San Diego, Calif., Skip Barber Racing Series
• Austin Mack, 17, Warren, R.I., F1600 Championship Series
• Tommy McCarthy, 16, Fremont, Calif., SCCA Spec Miata/USAC midgets
• Austin McCusker, 17, Glen Head, NY, F2000 Championship Series
• Tazio Ottis, 19, Alameda, Calif., SCCA Formula Mazda
• Chase Owen, 23, Houston, Texas, Skip Barber Racing Series
• Timo Reger, 18, Houston, Texas, Skip Barber Racing Series
• Michai Stephens, 23, Evanston, Ill., F1600 Championship Series
• Austin Versteeg, 16, Sandy, Utah, IMSA Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda
The drivers took the opportunity to meet Team USA Scholarship alumni Dane Cameron while here at Road America.
Colton Herta, currently racing in the MSA Formula in England, and Californian F1600 racer Scott Huffaker also were considered for inclusion but do not meet the minimum age of 16 required to contest the Formula Ford events. In addition, Austin Cindric, 16, from Mooresville, N.C., was selected after some standout performances in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Pirelli World Challenge, the ARCA Racing Series and Red Bull Global Rallycross, but has graciously withdrawn himself from the reckoning due to prior commitments.
The panel of judges for the interviews will include Derrick Walker, president of operations and competition for INDYCAR and principal of Walker Racing/Team Falken Tire, Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull, Mazda Motorsports Specialist Kyle Kimball, accomplished racer and NBC Sports Network pundit Townsend Bell and his Scuderia Corsa teammate Bill Sweedler, television personality and pit lane reporter Jamie Howe, and former scholarship winners Lally, Sellers, Cameron and factory Mazda driver Joel Miller.
“I am very grateful for all of the time and effort that has been expended by many people to help provide what should be an illuminating weekend for our scholarship contenders,” said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw.
“They will learn a great deal about what to expect as they progress along the racing ladder, and we will have an opportunity to learn a little more about them as individuals.”