Aaron Telitz, Michai Stevens capture Team USA Scholarships for 2014

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After intense deliberations, Aaron Telitz of Birchwood, Wis., and Michai Stephens of Evanston, Ill., today have been named as winners of prestigious Team USA Scholarships for 2014. The pair will travel to England next month to carry the patriotic red, white and blue colors in the traditional Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 25/26 and Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 1/2.

They were chosen from a group of six candidates who took part in a shootout aboard Allen Berg Racing Schools FR1600 cars at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on September 8. The other finalists were Ben Auriemma, from Manhasset, N.Y., Tristan DeGrand, from St. Louis, Mo., Garth Rickards, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Kenton Koch, from Glendora, Calif.

The panel of judges included former Team USA Scholarship winners Neil Alberico and Brett Smrz; two-time Rolex Sports Car Series champion Alex Gurney; ex-F1 driver Allen Berg; David Cook, Business Development Manager, Mazda North American Operations; veteran IndyCar/Indy Lights team owner Jack McCormack; RACER Magazine founder Paul Pfanner; accomplished race engineer Geoff Fickling; and World Speed Motorsports team owner Telo Stewart.

“It was a difficult decision and there were many factors which needed to be taken into account,” said Team USA Scholarship President Jeremy Shaw, who founded the program in 1990. “All of the six candidates can be proud of their efforts; each has what it takes to forge a successful career in this sport. I want to thank my fellow judges for their considerable input and everyone within the North American racing industry for making this program possible.”

Telitz, who won rookie-of-the-year honors in the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and Stephens, a standout from the Skip Barber Racing School Summer Series, will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jimmy Vasser, who secured the first Team USA Scholarship in 1990, Bryan Herta (1991), Buddy Rice (1997), Andy Lally (1999), A.J. Allmendinger (2001), Charlie Kimball (2003), J.R. Hildebrand (2005), Dane Cameron (2006), Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly (2008), Spencer Pigot (2010/2011), and Tristan Nunez and Matthew Brabham (2012).

“It is a huge honor and achievement to be chosen as a winner of the Team USA Scholarship,” said Telitz. “Not only do I now have the opportunity to race in Europe, I get to do it representing the United States of America. If you look at the history of previous winners of the Team USA Scholarship you’ll see there are some big shoes to fill. I look forward to the challenge and learning as much as I can during this awesome experience.”

“Being selected to represent the Team USA Scholarship in 2014 is mind-boggling to me,” added Stephens. “I will forever cherish this honor with the understanding that with great opportunity comes greater responsibility. I encourage everyone who has a vision to go out there and take it! My dream will be taking me as far away from my home as anyone in my family has ever gone. I look forward to taking full advantage of this opportunity and the many others that may lie ahead.”

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).