Four MAXSpeed drivers named for USF2000 test (VIDEO)

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A potential quartet of drivers to take note of, as karters who will have the chance at a USF2000 test. Release below:

After ensuring a true ladder program from the grassroots of karting to the upper echelon of motorsports in North America, the Mazda Road to Indy in conjunction with the MAXSpeed Group are pleased to announce the finalists of the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program. The four winners will be given the opportunity to “sample” the next step in their careers with a test in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

“We had 12 very worthy semi-finalists, which is a testament to the caliber of drivers in the Rotax program,” said Michelle Kish, COO of Andersen Promotions. “I would like to thank our judges for giving back to the sport with not only their time but their enthusiasm. We’re excited to introduce our four winners to the USF2000 platform and, hopefully, the next step in their career paths.”

The four rising stars chosen were Oliver Askew, 17, of Tequesta, Fla.; Christian Brooks, 14, of Santa Clarita, Calif.; Sabre Cook, 19, of Grand Junction, Colo.; and Austin Versteeg, 15, of Sandy, Utah. All are competitors in the United States Rotax MAX Challenge program.

The candidates participated in in-depth video interview conferences with Verizon IndyCar Series multi-time race winner James Hinchcliffe, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves, three-time Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals champion Ben Cooper and veteran karter and multi-time Team USA member Alan Rudolph. The interviews were mediated by the “voice” of the Mazda Road to Indy, eKartingNews.com’s Rob Howden.

“This was our first year working with the Mazda Road to Indy program and what a great group of people they have behind the scenes,” said MAXSpeed Group’s Richard Boisclair. “A top-notch crew made this lengthy process an easy one as we all worked seamlessly as a team. Our judges did a great job in the interview process and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. I would like to personally thank all the applicants as well as congratulate those who were chosen by our panel of judges.”

Michael McCarthy, 15, of Clearwater, Fla., was selected as first alternate should any scheduling conflicts arise with the winners.

“First off, it was great being asked to be a judge for this program,” said Hinchcliffe, who recently announced his return to Sam Schmidt Motorsports after finishing fifth with the squad in the 2009 Indy Lights title chase. “Karting is such an important element to the health and growth of motorsport in North America. As far as the 12 finalists, wow! The talent pool was deep and all of them should be proud of what they have accomplished and of making it into the finals. The interviews were a blast and they all did exceptionally well. The winners will be truly deserving, but I wish each and every one a huge amount of success in their careers.”

The drivers are each awarded a full one-day test and will turn their first USF2000 laps on January 28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., with the support of both Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group personnel.

“Karting was my roots for racing so it is an honor for me to be able to be part of this opportunity for up-and-coming young talents,” noted Chaves. “The Mazda Road to Indy has been a huge factor in my success and to be able to give back and help young drivers is great.”

Today’s announcement kicks off a busy week for winners Brooks and Versteeg who will head to Mooresville, N.C., for one of Rotax’s biggest events – the Cold Stone Rotax Pan American Challenge – on October 17-19 where “Rotaxians” from all over the world vie for coveted spots at the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals to be held in Valencia, Spain.

“I am very proud to have been a part of the Mazda Road to Indy selection process; it’s just one more way I can give back and hopefully be a part of the next rising star,” added Rudolph. “All the candidates did a fantastic job with a few really random questions that would be difficult for anyone to answer. In the end only, only four can win this test but the fact remains they are all winners in their own right and have bright futures.”

“It has been great to be a part of the judging panel for the Mazda Road to Indy/MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program and Andersen Promotions,” said Cooper. “It has been a privilege and a honor to help these young drivers hopefully progress through their careers.”

The partnership between the Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group was announced in June to foster the next wave of up-and-coming drivers. Rotax is the largest racing series in the world in any form of motorsports with over 15,000 drivers competing each year.

Video on the four linked below:

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi