Mazda Road to Indy two-day test underway at Barber

1 Comment

All three Andersen Promotions-run series in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000, are underway in the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test this week at Barber Motorsports Park.

Some news and notes about the driver/team combinations to follow:


  • USF2000 drivers Michael Epps and Alexandre Baron will test for Belardi; Epps is confirmed at Belardi’s USF2000 team while Baron, a two-time race winner last year, will move up to Indy Lights in 2014 with Belardi.
  • Neither of Schmidt Peterson’s drivers are confirmed but Jack Harvey is a strong possibility for one Indy Lights seat.
  • Zach Veach, Matthew Brabham and Lloyd Read are confirmed at their teams and the fourth confirmed 2014 driver, Zack Meyer, is not testing this week.


  • USF2000 2013 drivers Neil Alberico and Scott Hargrove (Cape), Garett Grist (Andretti) and Michael Johnson (JDC) will all move up to Pro Mazda with the same teams. Shelby Blackstock (Andretti) will continue for his second season.
  • Americans Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot and Kyle Connery all raced in Pro Mazda in 2013 but do not have deals confirmed for 2014 as yet. Kaiser and Pigot test for Juncos Racing, and Connery will test for JDC.


  • Newcomers to watch at the test include Aaron Telitz, Jack Mitchell Jr. and Harrison Scott. Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., recently won the Skip Barber Race Series Championship Shootout – and a MAZDASPEED Scholarship to compete in USF2000 next year – in the face of very stiff competition, including Eidson, and will drive one day apiece with Afterburner Autosport and ArmsUp Motorsports.
  • Belardi will have all four of its signed drivers testing together for the first time.


Belardi Auto Racing: 5 Michael Epps (GBR), 6 Alexandre Baron (FRA)
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 7 Yann Cunha (BRZ), 77 Jack Harvey (GBR)
Andretti Autosport: 26 Zach Veach (USA), 83 Matthew Brabham (USA)
BHA/Jeffrey Mark Motorsports: 28 Lloyd Read (WAL)

Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Neil Alberico (USA), 3 Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Juncos Racing: 4 Alfonso Celis (MEX), 5 Jose Gutierrez (MEX), 
6 Kyle Kaiser (USA), 7 Spencer Pigot (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 9 Kyle Connery (USA), 19 Harrison Scott (GBR), 
19 Jose Enrique Lopez (VEN), 54 Michael Johnson (USA)
M1 Racing: 10 Robert La Rocca (VEN), 21 Sebastian Arriola (MEX), 
21 Fernando Urrutia (MEX), 37 Jay Horak (USA)
Andretti Autosport: 27 Garett Grist (CAN), 28 Shelby Blackstock (USA)
Team Pelfrey: 81 Pipo Derani (BRZ), 82 Dalton Kellett (CAN)

USF2000 (18)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 3 Jake Eidson (USA)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Daniel Burkett (CAN), 14 Florian Latorre (FRA), 
41 Nico Jamin (FRA), 44 Michael Epps (GBR)
ArmsUp Motorsports: 6 Timothy Paul (USA), 24 Peter Portante (USA), 
51 Aaron Telitz (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 9 Nathan Blok (CAN), 9 Pato O’Ward (MEX), 
12 Henrik Furuseth (NOR), 19 Clark Toppe (USA)
Afterburner Autosport: 17 Victor Franzoni (BRZ), 18 Harrison Scott (GBR), 
18 Aaron Telitz (USA), 98 Gustavo Myasava (BRZ)
Pabst Racing Services: 21 Will Owen (USA), 77 Austin Cindric (USA)
JAY Motorsports: 91 Jack Mitchell Jr. (USA)

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’

Photo: Chris Estrada, NBC Sports
Leave a comment

NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”