Junior formula car standout JDC MotorSports has announced that paralyzed racer Michael Johnson will again be part of its multi-car title challenge in the 2013 edition of the Cooper Tires USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda series, and will move up with the team into the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear in 2014.
The 20-year-old Johnson made history this past season, becoming the first paralyzed driver to compete in the Mazda Road to Indy program, piloting a specially-equipped hand control car in the USF2000 Championship with multiple junior formula car champion JDC MotorSports. Showing steady improvement throughout the season, the Michigan native - who was paralyzed in a motorcycle racing accident in 2005 - was a consistent top-10 performer in practice and qualifying, earning a top-10 finish in Round 10 at Road America. Johnson further highlighted his development behind the wheel during the annual year-end Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test, leading one of the USF2000 Championship sessions and ending the two-day outing second on the overall time sheets.
Building on this momentum, the junior formula car rising star will reunite with JDC MotorSports for a second season of USF2000 Championship, focused on challenging for race wins and a series title. Johnson and JDC MotorSports have also confirmed he will remain with the Minnesota-based team in 2014, progressing up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to the Star Mazda Championship. Michael Johnson Racing, in preparation for the move. has already acquired a Star Mazda car, which will now be converted by JDC MotorSports - with the input of INDYCAR and the Star Mazda Championship - to a hand control set up for 2014.
"Michael has become family for us during the last two years, and is such an integral part of JDC MotorSports that the entire team is excited that he is staying with us, not only in 2013, but also moving up to Star Mazda in 2014 with us," said JDC MotorSports team principal John Church. "Obviously this is a unique program. It has actually even taught us to look at some things different simply due to the fact that Michael sometimes has to adjust his lines and braking points, which has benefited the rest of the team.
"A lot of the things we learned in converting the USF2000 car will help us in converting the Star Mazda car to a hand control set up. The decision to start the development so early gives as over a year lead time, and plenty of time for testing so Michael can get used to the Star Mazda car before moving there in 2014."
JDC MotorSports and Johnson will officially commence their 2013 season on February 5-6, when the No. 54 Universal Coating/SpeediCath/FlatOutNation.com/Red Line Oil/ Bell Racing/Alpinestars JDC MotorSports entry takes to Sebring International Raceway for the opening three races of the Cooper Tires Winterfest.
"I'm really happy that we are in a position to run again with John and the entire JDC MotorSports team in 2013 in the USF2000 Championship, as well as commit early with them for Star Mazda in 2014," Johnson said. "2012 was a hard year at times with a lot of things to get used to and learn, but I feel that we are now at a point to charge for the front. For sure top-10s are not going be good enough for me in my second year in the USF2000 Championship."