Photo: CoForce Public Relations

MRTI: Rinus VeeKay steps up to Pro Mazda with Juncos

Leave a comment

Rinus VeeKay will move up to the second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder in 2018. The talented Dutch teenager will race with Juncos Racing in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, a year after coming second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda to Oliver Askew.

VeeKay will run for the team that fielded the Pro Mazda champion this year, Victor Franzoni, and will be able to continue his battle with Askew for a second straight year in a second straight series.

Juncos’ release is below.

Juncos Racing announced today the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda championship runner-up, Rinus VeeKay will join the team for the 2018 Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires championship. VeeKay is the first driver to join the reigning 2017 Pro Mazda champion team.

Rinus VeeKay, 17, of Hoofddorp, Netherlands recently completed a very successful run in the USF2000 championship, picking up one pole, three wins and 12 podiums within 14 races in his rookie season. VeeKay’s most notable weekend during the 2017 year came at Road America where he captured his first pole and swept the weekend taking both wins. VeeKay finished the season second in the championship, only seven points behind the champion.

Photo: CoForce Public Relations

“I feel very honored that I am able to join such a successful top team,” said VeeKay. “They have a very professional attitude and the connection we had during the test was excellent from the very first moment. I really felt at home with the team. When I visited Juncos Racing I was thrilled with their state-of-the-art facility. Everything was very clean and organized, just like a Formula 1 operation.”

VeeKay made his first run with Juncos Racing back in October during a two-day test in the new PM-18 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Team Owner Ricardo Juncos is confident the young 17 year old is a strong figure for the 2018 Juncos Racing Pro Mazda driver line-up.

“I am thrilled to announce Rinus (VeeKay) is joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda season,” said Juncos. “We first worked with Rinus back in October testing at Mid-Ohio and were very pleased with him all around. He was very fast on track, and had a great professional approach when working with the crew and engineers. Rinus showed he will be a top contender on track and he is going to be an incredible asset to our Pro Mazda line-up this coming year. I want to thank Rinus and his family for the opportunity to add him to our program and look forward to a great year as we go for another championship!”

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski