Photo: RJB Motorsports

MRTI: RJB Motorsports announces two-car USF2000 program

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A new team will join the Mazda Road to Indy ranks in 2016, with RJB Motorsports confirming a two-car program on Monday. Clint McMahan is the team’s first driver; Aaron Telitz helped the team with testing during the recent Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas in late November.

The team’s full release is below:

RJB Motorsports today confirmed it will field a two-car team in the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The long-term commitment follows an exploratory USF2000 outing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August and participation in the recent Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at Circuit of The Americas.

Former pro hydro boat racer Ryan Barth established RJB Motorsports in 2011 when he made the switch toward four-wheel racing in the SCCA’s Formula 600 category. He quickly formed a partnership with fellow F600 racers and brothers Fred and Tom Edwards, whose company, Metalloid Corporation, produces a range of environmentally friendly fluids to the metalworking industry. The association quickly led to the formation of the F600 Challenge Series, a cost-effective, entry-level championship featuring motorcycle engines and six-speed sequential transmissions, and more recently to a long-term goal of assisting talented young drivers via the proven Mazda Road to Indy Development ladder.

“After looking at all the different racing series we felt that USF2000 and the Mazda Road to Indy provided the best opportunity for us to make an impact on young racers,” said Fred Edwards, CEO of Metalloid Corporation. “There is no other development ladder where someone can start at the lower levels, such as USF2000, and make it all the way up to the Verizon IndyCar Series. We have had several young competitors in the Formula 600 Challenge that have the talent to be in this series. Our team is new to USF2000 but we plan on giving our drivers cars that can win.”

RJB acquired a pair of ex-Belardi Auto Racing Van Diemen-Mazdas earlier this summer and fielded them at Mid-Ohio for SCCA regulars Clint McMahan and Alex Mayer. McMahan, the 2014 F600 champion, also drove at the recent Chris Griffis Memorial test in Texas, sharing a car with USF2000 veteran Aaron Telitz, who posted the second fastest time during the Sunday morning session.

“We were grateful to Aaron for his time and commitment to our fledgling program,” said Edwards. “He plans to move up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to Pro Mazda in 2016 and we wish him well. His input was extremely valuable both to Clint and our team as we work toward finalizing our arrangements for next season.”

McMahan, from Covington, Ga., will drive for the Sturgis, Mich.-based team in its inaugural USF2000 campaign.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to drive in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda,” said McMahan. “This opportunity will help me reach a lifelong dream of being able to compete with the best talent on the planet. I was very pleased to be chosen to represent the Formula 600 Challenge Presented by Metalloid and RJB Motorsports. I’ve had to go up against the top talent in the country on a club level to have this opportunity so needless to say I’m very excited.”

The team’s second driver will be announced in due course, and a full test program is being planned in advance of the first races of the 2016 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series, on March 12-13.

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.

The idea of Hamilton attending the 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 only would be fitting if 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 — spent 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).