Seventeen drivers representing nine countries are at the ready for the second annual Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Shootout this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly known as Firebird International Raceway) at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Arizona.
The two-day event set for Saturday and Sunday will see the group of hopefuls take to the 1.6-mile road course for chance to earn the $200,000 Mazda scholarship award to compete next season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda – the first step of the Mazda Road to Indy developmental ladder, sanctioned by INDYCAR.
A total of 20 championships around the world were offered shootout "entry tickets" from select junior-level open-wheel and karting categories, with an eligibility requirement that drivers be between the ages of 14 and 25 as of Sept. 30. Three drivers will not be attending.
The inaugural event last year was won by Oliver Askew, who seized the opportunity and went on to win this season’s USF2000 title with Cape Motorsports. Askew earned another Mazda scholarship for claiming the USF2000 title that advances him to the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
“Oliver Askew is proof of what this event can provide,” said Kyle Kimball, manager of operations for Mazda Motorsports.
“He won the shootout and then went on to win another Mazda scholarship as the USF2000 champion. The shootout brings the most talented drivers from around the globe to find who will become the next Mazda scholarship winner, and we can’t wait to see which of these young drivers will prevail.”
Although the drivers will do everything they can behind the wheel of a Formula Mazda car fitted with Cooper Tires, the responsibilities also fall on a panel of six judge to decide the best fit to become a representative of Mazda and the series. Among the judges are former Indy car driver Scott Goodyear, factory Mazda representatives Jonathan Bomarito, Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long, along with Askew and 2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni.
“This year presents another outstanding driver lineup for the shootout,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions that operates the Mazda Road to Indy. “All of these drivers have impressed with their talent, and the judges are going to have a difficult decision to make on Sunday.
“This event is very special. It is tremendous to see rising stars from around the world come together, and I have to thank Mazda for its commitment to the next generation of racers.”
Of the list of 17 entrants, only Niall Murray and Oliver White return after competing in last year’s event. The full list of scholarship shootout contestants (with age and hometown) and their affiliation is:
- Spencer Brockman, 17, Westport, Connecticut – SCCA Formula Atlantic (At-Large Entry determined by Mazda)
- Manuel Cabrera, 17, Mexico City – Formula Panam (Mexico)
- Matthew Cowley, 20, Manchester, England – F1600 Formula F Championship Series
- Jake Craig, 20, Mission Viejo, California – At-Large Entry determined by eKartingNews.com
- Keith Donegan, 20, Dublin, Ireland – Formula Ford Festival (UK)
- Mitch Egner, 25, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada – Pacific F2000 Championship
- Elliot Finlayson, 21, Yorkville, Illinois – SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Formula Enterprise)
- Olin Galli, 21, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)
- Aaron Jeansonne, 19, Sulphur, Louisiana – Team USA Scholarship
- Jonathan Kotyk, 23, Atlantic Beach, Florida – Team USA Scholarship
- Liam Lawson, 15, Pukekohe, New Zealand -– New Zealand Formula Ford Championship
- Ross Martin, 16, Kilmarnock, Scotland – Beatson’s Scottish FF1600 Championship
- Niall Murray, 22, Dublin, Ireland – Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship
- Jamie Thorburn, 19, Duns, Scotland – Formula Ford 1600 SuperSeries (UK)
- Max Vidau, 16, Adelaide, Australia – Australian Formula Ford Championship
- Carter Williams, 19, Clovis, California – Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear
- Oliver White, 25, Bath, England – Walter Hayes Trophy for Formula Ford 1600 (UK)