Jones, Telitz and Martin the Big Winners During Monday Night’s Monterey Banquet
MONTEREY, Calif. – Champions from all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development program were honored last night in the Championship Celebration banquet at the Monterey Plaza Hotel. A total of more than $2.3M in Mazda Scholarships and other awards was distributed.
The major winners included Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based Englishman Ed Jones, 21, who on Sunday clinched the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires crown, along with a scholarship valued at $1M to ensure entry into at least three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including the 101st Indianapolis 500; Aaron Telitz, 24, from Birchwood, Wis., who secured the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and a scholarship worth over $600,000 to graduate to Indy Lights; and Anthony Martin, 21, from Kalgoorlie, Australia, who won the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, accompanied by a $363,000 bonus to move on to Pro Mazda in 2017.
The banquet attracted almost 300 attendees and was held barely 24 hours after a drama-filled “Championship Sunday” in the Soul Red Finale at nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the outcome of all three titles was settled. The closest margin of victory came in Indy Lights, with Jones taking the crown by a scant two points over last year’s Pro Mazda Champion Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, from Miguelete, Uruguay, who came agonizingly close to emulating the accomplishments of California native Spencer Pigot by snaring successive titles in Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.
The evening also included the induction of several new members to the Mazda Road to Indy Hall of Fame, recognizing two of the founding fathers of Indy Lights, U.E. “Pat” Patrick and Roger Bailey, 30 years after they launched what was originally known as the American Racing Series in 1986; former Pro (Star) Mazda champion-turned-team owner and driving coach Chuck West and multiple race winner Peter Dempsey, who in 2013 won the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race by just 0.0026 of a second in what was then the closest-ever finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and now serves as Juncos Racing’s team manager/race engineer; and USF2000 stalwart Tonis Kasemets, now the driver coach for Pabst Racing, and Spencer Pigot, twice runner-up in the USF2000 championship, four times a Mazda scholarship winner and now a driver for Ed Carpenter Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Award Winners:
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Champion ($1 million scholarship) – Ed Jones, Carlin
Second place ($75,000) – Santi Urrutia, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian
Third place ($50,000) – Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing
Fourth place ($25,000) – Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
Fifth place ($10,000) – Dean Stoneman, Andretti Autosport
Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Award ($15,000) – Santi Urrutia, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian
Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Zachary Claman De Melo, Juncos Racing
Indy Lights Team Championship ($15,000, plus $5,000 from SSTube) – Carlin
Indy Lights INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Tom Edwards, Carlin
Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Felix Serralles, Carlin
Dallara Bent Pushrod Award ($2,000) – Carlin
Jostens Indy Lights Champion’s Ring – Ed Jones, Carlin
Freedom 100 Champion’s Ring – Dean Stoneman, Andretti Autosport
Mazda Road to Indy Rings (drivers contesting all three levels) – Neil Alberico, Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett
American Racing Winning Driver Team Owner Trophy (set of street wheels) – Trevor Carlin
Cosworth Champion’s Cash Award ($25,000) – Ed Jones, Carlin
Dallara Champion’s Parts Credit ($25,000) – Ed Jones, Carlin
Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Ed Jones, Carlin
Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 
Pro Mazda Champion ($601,700 scholarship) – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Second place ($25,000) – Pato O’Ward, Team Pelfrey
Third place ($12,500) – Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Fourth place ($7,500) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
Fifth place ($5,000) – Nicolas Dapero, Juncos Racing
BBS Rookie of the Year ($7,500) – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Pro Mazda National Class Champion – Bobby Eberle, JDC MotorSports
Pro Mazda Team Championship ($7,500) – Team Pelfrey
Pro Mazda INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Joe Haynes, Team Pelfrey
Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award – Team Pelfrey
Quarter Master Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
Jostens Pro Mazda Champion’s Ring – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
PFC Pro Mazda Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Team Pelfrey
Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
USF2000 Champion ($363,850 scholarship) – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Second place ($10,000) – Parker Thompson, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Third place ($5,000) – Victor Franzoni, ArmsUp Motorsports
Fourth place ($3,000) – Jordan Lloyd, Pabst Racing
Fifth place ($2,000) – Luke Gabin, JAY Motorsports
Rookie of the Year ($1,500) – Robert Megennis, Team Pelfrey
USF2000 National Class Champion – Eric Filgueiras, Spencer Racing
USF2000 Team Championship ($4,000) – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
USF2000  INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Jake Strack, ArmsUp Motorsports
Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Victor Franzoni, ArmsUp Motorsports
Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Parker Thompson, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Robert Megennis, Team Pelfrey
Jostens USF2000 Champion’s Ring – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
PFC USF2000 Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
Quoteboard:
Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions: “Every year, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires produces exciting racing and this year we outdid ourselves with all three championships coming down to the final race. The racing was more intense, especially in Indy Lights, than ever before. It was a great season and I can’t thank our partners, Mazda and Cooper Tires, enough for everything they do to help these drivers move forward. We have crowned three deserving champions and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for every one of them.”
John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations: “Mazda is honored to continue with the Mazda Road to Indy. Each year, we see a new crop of talent come through and at the end of the day there can only be one winner in each series, and we saw three terrific drivers crowned this evening. Our intention is to give drivers a clear path, and nothing like this exists anywhere else in the world. We are very proud of that and we hope to continue to see drivers go to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 with the Mazda Road to Indy as their path. Just yesterday, someone asked me if Mazda would go to the Indianapolis 500 and I said – we already do.”
Chris Pantani, Director of Marketing, Director of Event Marketing and Motorsports for Cooper Tires: “This season was amazing. We have champions that will have new Soul Red cars to look forward to. We have a new Tatuus USF-17 coming out this year that will be an incredible car in USF2000, and we have high hopes for Pro Mazda going into 2017 as well. Our season is ending today but we start testing the USF-17 in three weeks. There’s a great deal to look forward to on the Mazda Road to Indy.”
Ed Jones, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Champion: “It’s still sinking in. Yesterday was an amazing achievement by the whole Carlin team. The realization is really just coming through that I’ll be in the Indianapolis 500 next year. I’ll enjoy this during this week but then we’ll start working on getting the deal sorted, trying to get a full ride as well. I can’t thank Mazda and Cooper enough for what they’ve done for drivers like myself, to have the opportunity to be in IndyCar – there’s no other ladder system like this in the world. I can’t wait to get back into an Indy car, to get up to speed properly. We’ve been speaking with teams so hopefully we can sort something out soon. But for now, I’ll enjoy what we’ve accomplished in 2016.”
Aaron Telitz, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires Champion: “It’s slowly sinking in that I’m going to get to drive an Indy Lights car in 2017. I’m trying to take it slow, celebrating now with friends and family, but then I’ll go home and get to work on next season. It’s incredible, to be down as I was in the championship and to come back and win. It will take me some time to process how I did that or to put it in to words. Mazda and Cooper Tires do so much for the series. If you win, you have a chance to move on. That’s how I started my racing career and that’s how it is going to continue. I’m really excited for the future.”
Anthony Martin, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Champion:  “It’s such a big accomplishment and it’s going to take some time to sink in. I just won the USF2000 championship in America, against some very talented drivers, so for me, my family, my friends and all my supporters, I couldn’t be happier.  Facebook and Twitter has just gone through the roof! I just can’t believe it. We’ll take a few days’ rest and then get straight back into it. We’ll do some testing and push hard toward next year in the Pro Mazda car. I’m looking forward to working with Mazda and Cooper Tires and I know it will be a great year.”