For a quarter of a century, the Team U.S.A. Scholarship has been providing unparalleled opportunities in AND out of the race car for young American drivers. Founded in 1990 by Jeremy Shaw, the program includes funded rides, guidance, and insight from those that have “been there, and done that.”
A group of 11 drivers will be traveling to Road America this weekend (August 8-9) to convene with a panel of judges who will narrow the dozen drivers down to the six drivers who will take part in a shootout at Auto Club Speedway in early September.
Two drivers from the group of six that have progressed to the shootout (hosted by Allen Berg Racing Schools and Cooper Tire) will ultimately be named scholarship winners and fly the Stars and Stripes during the traditional end-of-season Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone in England.
The eleven drivers that will convene at the historic 4.048 mile, 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin include:
- Ben Auriemma, 17, Manhasset, N.Y., F1600 Championship Series
- Sam Chastain, 22, Noblesville, Ind., F2000 Championship Series
- Dakota Dickerson, 18, San Diego, Calif., Skip Barber Racing Series
- Austin Mack, 17, Warren, R.I., F1600 Championship Series
- Tommy McCarthy, 16, Fremont, Calif., SCCA Spec Miata/USAC midgets
- Austin McCusker, 17, Glen Head, NY, F2000 Championship Series
- Tazio Ottis, 19, Alameda, Calif., SCCA Formula Mazda
- Chase Owen, 23, Houston, Texas, Skip Barber Racing Series
- Timo Reger, 18, Houston, Texas, Skip Barber Racing Series
- Michai Stephens, 23, Evanston, Ill., F1600 Championship Series
- Austin Versteeg, 16, Sandy, Utah, IMSA Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda
Austin Cindric, who is competing in Red Bull Global Rallycross, the ARCA Racing Serires, the Pirelli World Challenge and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, was the twelfth driver selected but had to bow-out of the proceedings due to prior commitments.
“From the beginning, it has always been a goal of mine to represent the Team USA Scholarship program during my racing career,” said Cindric. “It is really an honor to be selected as a candidate this year as this program has made such an impact on so many young American drivers over the years. Unfortunately, my current commitments conflict with many of this year’s activities, so I feel it’s best to withdraw my name before the finalists are chosen as I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of another nominee receiving this great opportunity. Hopefully, there will be a way to represent Team USA in another meaningful way in the future.”
Two young drivers Colton Herta and Scott Huffaker were also considered, but because they are not yet 16 years-old, they do not meet the minimum age requirement to compete in the Formula Ford events.
From the first winner in 1990, Jimmy Vasser, to the 2014 representatives, Aaron Telitz and Michai Stephens, the esteemed group of 42 drivers have certainly left their mark in American motorsport.
The list of previous scholarship winners includes:
- Verizon IndyCar Series team owners – Vasser & Bryan Herta
- current IndyCar drivers – Josef Newgarden, J.R. Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball and Conor Daly
- former IndyCar drivers – A.J. Allmendinger, Phil Giebler, Jeff Simmons, Buddy Rice, Tonny Renna, and Memo Gidley
- current Mazda Road To Indy drivers – Aaron Telitz, Jake Eidson, Matthew Brabham, Jack Mitchell, Jr., Neil Alberico, Spencer Pigot, & Felix Serralles
- current sports car pilots – Tristan Nunez, Trent Hindman, Connor De Phillippi, Joel Miller, Dane Cameron, Bryan Sellers, Joey Hand, and Andy Lally
The esteemed panel of judges who will meet with the dozen drivers in the kettle moraines of Wisconsin include Derrick Walker, president of operations and competition for INDYCAR and principal of Walker Racing/Team Falken Tire, Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull, Mazda Motorsports Specialist Kyle Kimball, accomplished racer and NBC Sports Network pundit Townsend Bell and his Scuderia Corsa teammate, Bill Sweedler, television personality and pit lane reporter Jamie Howe, and former scholarship winners Lally, Sellers, Cameron, and factory Mazda driver Miller.
“I am very grateful for all of the time and effort that has been expended by many people to help provide what should be an illuminating weekend for our scholarship contenders,” said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. “They will learn a great deal about what to expect as they progress along the racing ladder, and we will have an opportunity to learn a little more about them as individuals.”
Supporters of the Team U.S.A. scholarship include: Doug Mockett & Company, the Road Racing Drivers Club and SAFEisFAST.com, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Team Penske, Mazda, Chip Ganassi Racing, Basecamp.com, Afterburner Autosport, Honda Performance Development, Robertson Racing, Masters HGP, Allen Berg Racing Schools, Ellis Clowes North America, Co-Force International, Race Hero, PitFit Training, RaceCraft1, Sparco USA, RACER Magazine, Speedstar Management, Styled Aesthetic and Manifest Group.