Dickerson and Stephens. Photo: Team USA Scholarship

The 25th Team USA Scholarship recipients are Dickerson, Stephens

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Jeremy Shaw’s Team USA Scholarship has been doled out for the 25th consecutive year. This year’s winners are Dakota Dickerson and Michai Stephens, the latter of whom is the fifth driver to win the award twice (Jerry Nadeau, Paul Edwards, Neil Alberico and Spencer Pigot).

The full release is below:

Talented young Americans Dakota Dickerson, from San Diego, and Michai Stephens, from Evanston, Ill., were today named as winners of 2015 Team USA Scholarships. Following in the footsteps of such accomplished alumni as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Joey Hand, A.J. Allmendinger, Josef Newgarden and many others, the pair will travel to England this month to further their fledgling racing careers.

Dickerson and Stephens earned their selection following a shootout last month aboard Allen Berg Racing Schools FR1600 cars running on Cooper tires at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. The adjudicating panel included Rice, who, after claiming a Team USA Scholarship in 1997, went on to win the 2004 Indianapolis 500 and 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona, plus two-time sports car champion Alex Gurney and accomplished race engineers Geoff Fickling, Kent Stacy and Gerald Tyler.

The pair will represent their country in the famed Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, driving Ray chassis prepared by Cliff Dempsey Racing and boasting the scholarship’s distinctive and traditional red-white-and-blue colors.

“The Team USA Scholarship is an honor, privilege and recognition of what the future might hold,” said Stephens, 23, who returns for a second year after also winning a scholarship in 2014. “Pure passion, an open mind and desire to stand for something greater define what this opportunity has meant to me. Being selected for the 2015 scholarship has put me back in the driver’s seat – a place of developing comfort that has taught me some of life’s greatest lessons. It has and will once again give me the chance to test my mind, body and soul. This experience has yet to compare to anything else in life by developing and refining my belief of the future. Becoming a racing driver is an honest part of my life now . . . A dream come reality!”

“I am extremely honored to have been chosen to represent the Team USA Scholarship,” added Dickerson,18, who remains in contention for the Skip Barber Racing Summer Series championship after claiming a pair of wins last week at VIRginia International Raceway. “For 25 years now the Team USA Scholarship has helped advance many young drivers’ careers, and to become one of those drivers is an indescribable feeling. I look forward to representing the United States overseas and learning from this great experience. I can’t thank Jeremy Shaw, the RRDC, SAFEisFAST, Doug Mockett, Cooper Tires and all of the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship enough for making this opportunity possible.”

The Team USA Scholarship in 2015 is celebrating 25 years of providing opportunities for American race car drivers.

“This is a big year for our program and I couldn’t be happier with our selections,” said Team USA Scholarship founder and noted auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. “Even though Michai has raced only infrequently in 2015, he has continued to work hard on establishing the connections that will allow him to flourish in the future. The standard at the shootout was high, as usual, but Dakota and Michai were especially impressive in every aspect.”

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).