Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Nine nations represented in Road to Indy shootout finalists

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The second annual Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout will feature 17 different drivers from nine different countries, all of whom vying for an entry into next season’s USF2000 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda campaign. Scheduled for December 9-10, the shootout will be held at the Bondurant Racing School.

The full release, including a full list of participants, is below.

 

A young racer’s life will be changed this coming weekend as 17 drivers representing nine nations and four different continents vie for superiority in the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout. The second annual event will take place at the Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix.
A Mazda Scholarship valued at $200,000 is on offer to ensure entry into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, in 2018. USF2000 is the first rung of the proven and highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder which provides Mazda Scholarships at every level to allow talented young drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
Last year’s inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout was won by Florida teenager Oliver Askew, who went on to claim this year’s USF2000 championship title with Cape Motorsports and secure a second Mazda Scholarship which will allow him to graduate onto the next step of the ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2018.
In total, 20 championships were offered Shootout “entry tickets” to award their champions, with an eligibility requirement that drivers be between the ages of 14 and 25 on September 30, 2017. Two drivers earning tickets are unable to attend – Konrad Czaczyk (Formula Tour 1600 Canada) and Luke Wiliams (BRSCC F1600 England). The 17 contestants, listed below with their age, hometown and affiliation, have earned their opportunity to chase one of the most coveted prizes in all of junior open-wheel racing via a worldwide network of official feeder series:
Spencer Brockman, 17, Westport, Conn. – SCCA Formula Atlantic (At-Large Entry determined by Mazda)
Manuel Cabrera, 17, Mexico City, City – Formula Panam (Mexico)
Matthew Cowley, 20, Manchester, England – F1600 Formula F Championship Series
Jake Craig, 20, Mission Viejo, Calif. – At-Large Entry determined by eKartingNews.com
Keith Donegan, 20, Dublin, Ireland – Formula Ford Festival (UK)
Mitch Egner, 25, Victoria, B.C., Canada – Pacific F2000 Championship
Elliot Finlayson, 21, Yorkville, Ill. – SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Formula Enterprises)
Olin Galli, 21, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)
Aaron Jeansonne, 19, Sulphur, La. – Team USA Scholarship
Jonathan Kotyk, 23, Atlantic Beach, Fla. – 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, Calif. – Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear
Oliver White, 25, Bath, England – Walter Hayes Trophy for Formula Ford 1600 (UK)
The shootout will take place over two days, December 9-10, at the full 1.6-mile road course at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly known as Firebird International Raceway) in Chandler, Ariz. Drivers will compete in a fleet of identically prepared Formula Mazda cars fitted with Cooper tires.
An exhaustive assessment of all 17 drivers will be undertaken by an accomplished panel of judges comprising former IndyCar driver Scott Goodyear, factory Mazda representatives Jonathan Bomarito, Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long, plus inaugural shootout winner Askew and 2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni.
“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.”
The winner of the Shootout will be announced at the conclusion of on-track activities and judging deliberations.
“This year presents another outstanding driver line up for the Shootout,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “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.”

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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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.

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