Caterham launches crowdfunding project in bid to race in Abu Dhabi

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The administrators at Caterham F1 Team have launched an ambitious crowdfunding project to try and get the team on the grid for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Last month, it was confirmed that Caterham had entered administration following a dispute between its former owner, Tony Fernandes, and a group called Engavest that had supposedly bought the team.

Workers at the Leafield base were locked out of the factory and told not to return until funding had been secured for the team so it could either race in Abu Dhabi or make the grid for the beginning of the 2015 season.

Today, in a bid to make the final race of the year, the team has launched a crowdfunding project called #RefuelCaterhamF1, asking for donations from fans to raise enough money to reach the grid in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season.

The team has set a target of raising £2.35m – $3.7m – in the next seven days to be able to race in the final round of the 2014 season at Yas Marina, offering a number of perks to fans who do wish to donate.

“The Caterham F1 Team is launching the #RefuelCaterhamF1 to power the team to go racing in Abu Dhabi and hopefully beyond,” the crowdfunding page reads.

“The team is giving both fans and sponsors a unique opportunity to be the driving force behind the team by crowdfunding its return to the grid in exchange for once in a lifetime rewards.”

You can see the full crowdfunding page by clicking here.

“We are working non-stop to get the Caterham F1 Team back racing, initially in Abu Dhabi, but hopefully that will be just a stepping stone to get it back racing on a permanent basis, under new ownership,” administrator Finbarr O’Connell said in a statement.

“In order to achieve that one of our most useful, innovative and effective options right now is crowdfunding. We want to get as many sponsors and fans as possible involved this week and make our comeback something we can all be part of.

“This team deserves a future and I’m sure that there are plenty of fans and companies out there that agree with us, so I can’t think of a better way to get us all together and show our support to the team than this one, the Caterham F1 Team #RefuelCaterhamF1 project.”

This last-ditch attempt by Caterham comes on the same day that Marussia F1 Team formally ceased trading and closed its doors for good, proving just how difficult life at the back of the F1 field has become.

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”