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Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda – 2015 season preview

The Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship has been around in one form or another since 1990, but the reinvented version you see today was launched by Dan Andersen in 2010.

The single make series utilizes a Van Diemen Elan chassis, that is powered by an 150 horsepower Mazda MZR 2-liter engine, and is shod with 13 inch slick Cooper Tires.  The drivers shift gears utilizing a Hewland 5-speed sequential gearbox and the series is fueled by Sunoco.

The series was won by rookie drivers the first three years after reintroduction, but the past two season have seen sophomore drivers take home the valuable Mazda advancement scholarship.

Expect quick and experienced sophomores like Jake Eidson, Victor Franzoni and Aaron Telitz to pounce early, before the bumper rookie crop catches up to them.

Previous USF2000 winners on the 1.8 mile St. Petersburg street circuit include: Victor Franzoni, RC Enerson, Scott Hargrove, Spencer Pigot, Petri Suvanto and Sage Karam (who will be making his second Verizon IndyCar Series start this weekend).

The schedule for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is as follows:

DAY TIME EVENT
Friday 8am-8:30am Practice 1
Friday 2pm-2:30pm Practice 2
Saturday 8am-8:30am Qualifying
Saturday 10:15am-10:55am Race 1
Sunday 8:55am-9:35am Race 2

 

Cape Motorsports with /WTR

If you look up successful racing enterprises in the dictionary, you’ll find Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda stalwarts Cape Motorsports with /WTR.  The St. Petersburg based squad has captured the last four USF2000 driver crowns and the last three team championships.  With sophomore pilots Aaron Telitz and Nico Jamin behind the wheel this year, expect more of the same.

Aaron Telitz of Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Aaron Telitz of Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

After a successful Skip Barber and Formula Ford career, Telitz made the move to the Mazda Road To Indy in 2014.  The 23 year-old scored one victory, and six podiums on the way to 4th place and rookie of the year honors in USF2000.  Telitz showed remarkable consistency after getting familiar with the USF2000 car, compiling eight straight top seven finishes to finish out the season.  Making the offseason switch form ArmsUp Motorsports to Cape Motorsports with /WTR to pilot the Rice Lake Weighing Systems sponsored No. 3, the native of Birchwood, Wisconsin had an up and down Cooper Tires Winterfest, showing constant speed, but inconsistent results.  It would be surprising if Telitz was not contending for wins and be a championship contender all season long.

Nico Jamin racing for Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Nico Jamin racing for Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Nico Jamin spent one season in French Formula 4, and one season in Formula Renault 2.0 before making the move to the U.S.A. to contest the 2014 USF 2000 championship.  The Rouen, France native split the season with Belardi Auto Racing and Pabst Racing, compiling eight top tens and one podium on the way to a ninth place championship finish.   The No. 2 sponsored by Synova Automotive Eco-Plastics of 19 year-old Jamin was one of the surprises of Winterfest as he started all five races in the top 3 and scored one win and four podiums on the way to a narrow championship victory.  If Jamin continues the form he showed at NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber in February, he will be one to keep an eye on and should be in championship contention when the series ends at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September.

ArmsUp Motorsports

For 2015, the Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin based ArmsUp Motorsports will be fielding a three car team for: Keyran Andres Soori, Max Hanratty and James Dayson.  The team is owned and managed by brothers Gregg and Brent Borland, both of whom spent extensive time working in the Skip Barber racing school program.

Keyran Andres Soori driving for ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Keyran Andres Soori driving for ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

It’s hard to believe that a 15 year-old will be a USF2000 sophomore, but that’s the case for Keyran Andres Soori, who will move from Cape Motorsports with /WTR to ArmsUp Motorsports to pilot the silver and gold No. 5. The Cologne, Germany native who calls Naples, Florida home had a consistent season in 2014, scoring five top tens while learning all of the tracks he will be racing on in 2015. Due to an illness at Barber Motorsports Park, the high school sophomore was only able to take part in the three Winterfest rounds at NOLA Motorsports Park, but showed steady improvement from 2014 by improving from an average finish of 13.1 to 9.0. With his experience on the MRTI tracks, expect Andres Soori to compete for top fives and a top eight championship finish should be well within reach.

Max Hanratty racing for ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Max Hanratty racing for ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Max Hanratty will be piloting the Juniper Networks/SynerComm Inc. sponsored No. 6 during his rookie USF2000 season. The 21 year-old didn’t start racing until he took part in a three day Skip Barber racing school as a 19 year-old. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin resident has spent the past two years in Canada, contesting the Toyo tires F16000 Championship and Formula Tour 1600 Championship. He collected almost ten podiums during his two seasons “North of the Border.” Hanratty had an uneventful Winterfest, completing all but one lap and showing increased pace each session out. Expect the relative newcomer in racing to use 2015 as a learning season with top 10 finishes being the goal.

James Dayson of ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

James Dayson of ArmsUp Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

James Dayson, who will be appearing with ArmsUp Motorsports for the third consecutive season, is not your everyday racing story. The 36 year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia did not start his racing career until 2011. He spent one year testing before moving to USF2000 National Class in 2012 and 2013. It’s been a joy to watch “Jimmy” get quicker each time he steps in the car, but it’s an even bigger joy to get to know him. The new father and business owner has an unmatched joie de vivre and his infectious desire to improve is something all younger drivers would be wise to emulate.

JAY Motorsports

Augie Lerch will be behind the wheel for Palmetto, Florida based JAY Motorsports, a family affair helmed by former competitive driver and ace mechanic, Jay Green.  The team, with numerous SCCA championships under it’s belt, scored it’s first USF2000 win in 2015, when Adrian Starrantino took home a victory during the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Augie Lerch driving for JAY Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Augie Lerch driving for JAY Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Lerch will be making his USF2000 debut in the No. 12 sponsored by Shashi/PJ’s Performance/Hi Speed Customs and Rods. The 18 year-old karting standout made his “car” debut last year, scoring a win on the way to an impressive third place finish in the competitive F1600 Formula F Championship Series. The Tuscon, Arizona native made his USF2000 debut at Winterfest this February, completing every lap and showing improved pace during every session. It would be surprising if Lerch wasn’t in the hunt for top five race finishes by the end of the season and a top 10 points finish would be a great accomplishment for only his second year in formula cars.

Afterburner Autosport

Owner Tim Walsh, manager/mechanic Brian Tomasi and engineer Tim Jennings have built Afterburner Autosport into a USF2000 team to be reckoned with.  The Minnesota based squad will be rejoined by sophomore Victor Franzoni in a quest for the the championship.

Victor Franzoni driving for Afterburner Autosport (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Victor Franzoni driving for Afterburner Autosport (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The super-speedy Franzoni will be piloting the Novac Sports/XYZ Talents/E-QUAL sponsored No. 17 during the 2015 season. After two seasons competing in Formula Renault 2.0 in Europe, the 19 year-old made quite a splash on his move to the U.S.A., winning one race, while stepping up to the podium four times on the way to a fifth place championship finish. The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil showed impressive pace as well, scoring a top five quickest race lap in 10 of 14 races contest. His raw speed and passing ability was on display again during Winterfest, as he passed a ton of cars and scored two victories on the way to a runner-up finsih. Expect him to be battling Aaron Telitz and Jake Eidson for the race wins and the season long championship.

Pabst Racing

USF2000 sophomore Jake Eidson and rookie Yufeng Luo will be the season long entries for Pabst Racing, an Oconomowoc, Wisconsin based team was founded in 1983 by Augie Pabst, Jr., a sports car legend.   The team has decades of experience preparing Van Diemen F2000 cars and is currently helmed by Augie Pabst III.

Jake Eidson of Pabst Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Jake Eidson of Pabst Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The 19 year-old Eidson spent the 2014 USF2000 season fighting with Florian Latorre and RC Enerson for top spot and a Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship, but fell just short, using two victories and nine podiums to finish third, only 19 points behind eventual champion Latorre. Eidson, who calls Littleton Colorado home, scored two wins, one pole, four podiums and three quickest laps during the recent Winterfest, but fell just short of a championship after a fuel pump failed on the first lap of the final race. It would be a surprise if Eidson is not near the top of the box scores, and championship table on a week in and week out basis.

Yufeng Luo driving for Pabst Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Yufeng Luo driving for Pabst Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Luo, the pilot of the No. 23 spent 2014 contesting the Pacific Formula F2000 championship, where he scored four podiums and one pole in five races. The Beijing, China native and Los Angeles, California resident contested the first three races of Winterfest and showed amazing consistency with two 10th and one 11th place finish. The 16 year-old high school student should consider this season a success if he brings home similar results to Winterfest.

John Cummiskey Racing

John Cummiskey Racing, which is based in Indianapolis, contested four USF2000 races in 2014, and scored an impressive seventh place finish in Toronto with Canadian Driver Nathan Blok.  Cummiskey has decades of experience in the Verizon IndyCar Series as a chief mechanic with Team Penske, Team Green Racing, Newman-Haas Racing and Dragon Racing.  His drivers for 2015 will be Australian Formula Ford veterans Anthony Martin and Jordan Lloyd.

Anthony Martin driving for John Cummiskey Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Anthony Martin driving for John Cummiskey Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

After a successful karting career, Martin, a 19 year-old, won the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship in 2014 and in 2013, was the vice champion and Rookie of The Year. He will pilot the No. 33 sponsored by Burgess BLA. The Kalgoorlie, Australia native was one of the pleasant surprises of Winterfest, where he stood on the podium twice on the way to taking home third in the championship. Martin also showed impressive pace, four times scoring the fourth quickest lap of the race. If Martin continues to show the pace and race craft that he demonstrated at NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park, expect to see him contend for podiums all year long. A top five in the championship would not come as a surprise.

Jordan Lloyd driving for John Cummiskey Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Jordan Lloyd driving for John Cummiskey Racing (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Martin did not have the only surprising performance of Winterfest as his teammate and fellow Australian, Jordan Lloyd proved that he too would be a factor for the podium in 2015. Lloyd is an 18 year old from Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power’s hometown of Toowoomba and won six races on his way to the vice-championship of the Australian Formula For Championship. He scored on podium, and four top tens on his way to a eight place finish. Expect him to contend for top fives all season long.

D2D Motorsports 

For the second straight year, the family run Dare to Dream Motorsports will be contesting the USF2000 championship with Andrew List.   The Rogers, Minnesota team is operated by Jim List and has experience in karting and also SCCA competition.

D2D Motorsports pilot Andrew List (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

D2D Motorsports pilot Andrew List (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophomore pilot List will be piloting the No. 61 D2D Motorsports Van Diemen/Mazda.  After multiple karting and SCCA (Formula Continental & Formula Enterprise) championships, the 21 year-old made the move to the Mazda Road To Indy in 2014.  The Robbinsdale Minnesota native continued to add pace to his stellar race craft throughout the 2014 season and earned the USF2000 Tilton Hard Charger Award for improving 54 positions during the 14 race season.  Expect to see List continue his improvement in 2015 and regularly contend for top 10 finishes.

M2 Autsoport

Santiago Lozano will be contesting a second year with Miami based M2 Autsoport, a mainstay in Latin American racing, including winning three 6 Hours of Bogata championships and competing in the Copa Corona and Panam GP Series.

Santiago Lozano driving for M2 Autsoport (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Santiago Lozano driving for M2 Autsoport (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Piloting the No. 79, Lozano will be looking to improve on his rookie season that saw him score one top ten and gain 26 positions in 12 races. He did take part in the first three Winterfest races at NOLA Motorsports Park, but was forced to miss the last two at Barber Motorsports Park after suffering a nasty looking crash in a wet practice session. Lozano will look to continue to improve his pace and race craft while competing for top 15 results.

JDC Motorsports

Parker Thompson will be the only USF2000 entry for Mazda Road To Indy stalwarts JDC Motorsports.  The Minnesota based squad is led by John Church and has over two decades of championship winning experience.

Parker Thompson driving for JDC Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Parker Thompson driving for JDC Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Thompson, a native of Red Deer, Alberta made his debut in a formula car during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September, 2014. The 16 year-old karting champion was impressive in that debut, scoring the fourth quickest time during the two day trial run. Thompson might not have a lot of experience on the track, but he should have a great support system, with 2004 Indianapolis 500 and 2009 24 Hours of Daytona champion Buddy Rice, serving as his mentor. Thompson continued his impressive consistency during Winterfest, completing all 87 laps contested. He scored top 10’s in each race and showed improving pace each race. He could be one of the surprises of the 2015 USF2000 season as he gets more comfortable in his first foray into formula cars. Don’t be surprised to see him contending for top five finishes and a top seven championship finish is well within his grasp.

Team Pelfrey

Earlier this year, Florida based Team Pelfrey announced that the would be adding a USF2000 program to complete their in-house road to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire.  The team will now field cars in The F1600 Formula F Championship, USF2000 and Pro Mazda.  Making the jump from F1600 to USF2000 within the same team will be Ayla Agren, Garth Rickards and Nikita Lastochkin.  They will be joined by the winner of the Skip Barber Championship Shootout, Luke Gabin.

Ayla Agren of Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Ayla Agren of Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Agren, who will pilot the Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/ KNA/CoForce/WSF sponsored No. 81, is the reigning F1600 champion, where she won three times on the way to the crown. The 21 year-old started racing karts at age seven and made the move to the USA in 2012 to compete in the Skip Barber Series before making the move to F1600. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Agren showed showed consistent improvement during Winterfest as she learned the new car. She had top tens in the final three races and had the sixth quickest lap in the final race at Barber Motorsports Park. With her previous pedigree, she should be expected to contest for top tens early in the season and top fives by the time the series gets to Mid-Ohio in August.

Garth Rickards driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Garth Rickards driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Rickards won a race and scored four quickest laps to finish in second in the F1600 championship, just behind his teammate Agren. The 22 year-old did not make his racing debut until 2012, when he completed a three day Skip Barber school. 2013 saw him move up to the Skip Barber Racing Series where he won three races and stood on the podium six times in only eight races. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native was one of the surprises of Winterfest where he pilot the Rahal Automotive Group sponsored No. 83 to a four top five finishes. He gained an impressive 13 positions in the five race series. Rickards has proven that he is a quick learner, and he should be expected to contend for top fives on a regular basis. A top eight showing would be impressive for someone competing in their third season in cars.

Luke Gabin driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Luke Gabin driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The third Australian in the series, Gabin will be behind the wheel of the MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson sponsored No. 82. Gabin is the most recent winner of the $200,000 Mazdaspeed scholarship award to the winner of the Skip Barber Championship Shootout. The 19 year-old made his U.S.A. debut in the Skip Barber Karting Shootout, which he also won. During the five race Winterfest series Gabin showed that he would have the speed to be a constant threat to finish in the top eight. With a little more consistency, the Perth, Australia native should be in competition for top fives with his teammates Agren and Rickards.

Nikita Lastochkin driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

Nikita Lastochkin driving for Team Pelfrey (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The fourth member of Team Pelfrey is Lastochkin, who will be behind the wheel of the No. 84 sponsored by Russkaya Mekhanika. The Moscow, Russia native and Los Angeles California native did not turn a wheel (including karting) until he took a Skip Barber course in 2013. 2014 saw him contest an amazing 58 races across three different series (Skip Barber, F1600 Formula F Championship Series and Pacific Formula F1600). He scored 16 poles, 12 wins and 29 podiums during his busy season. Nikita Lastochkin had an up and down Winterfest that saw him start a race as high as fifth and concluded with a best race finish of eighth. Expect to see the 24 year-old get comfortable quickly and be in contention for top 10 race results and a top 10 championship finish.

As always, thanks for reading!

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#TeamCooperTire and #MRTI – the story behind the hashtags

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During the 2014 Mazda Road To Indy season. series tire provider and multi-series title sponsor Cooper Tires introduced the #TeamCooperTire hashtag program on the popular social media platforms Twitter and Instagram.

This year Mazda Motorsports is also joining the party with the #MRTI hashtag.  It’s a short and simple addition that is already being used by drivers, teams and series media members.

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There can be little argument that the motorsports landscape has changed over the past few decades.  Gone are the days that a driver only has to bring his helmet to the track.  They still need to be quick, but they also need much more in their toolbox.   A sponsor is now looking for results AND a driver that is engaged and represents their brand well.  With the amount of money and brand goodwill involved it’s not surprising that engaged drivers like James Hnchcliffe and Helio Castroneves are popular with fans and sponsors.

With that last point in mind, the goal of the #MRTI and #TeamCooperTire hashtag program is for Cooper Tires and Mazda to provide a series of guideposts that will help Mazda Road To Indy drivers tell their story (branding) and connect with and increase social media followers.   Both of those functions are key to attracting a personal fan base and also gives a driver a chance to show off their personality to potential sponsors.

The career benefits are enough to make a driver and team want to participate in the program, but Cooper Tires and Mazda have gone a step further and will be providing prizes to the teams and drivers.  The MRTI season has been divided into six different contest periods and if a driver/team passes all of the provided guideposts in that period they will entered to win a prize, which includes one of their sets of Cooper Race Tires for free.

Fans will also have a chance to benefit from this program by:

  • Having a central place to find MRTI content.  Searching the two hashtags on Twitter and Instagram will guide you to content created by drivers, teams, the series, media and partners.  Drivers are encouraged to post behind-the-scenes action, so that you, as a fan will have fun way to follow along with the stories and lives of the drivers as they strive to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series.
  • The potential to win prizes, and who doesn’t like giveaways?  Last year, MRTI drivers were able to give away a set of tires as well as other Cooper Tire prizes to their loyal followers.  Make sure to be on the lookout for fun contests from your favorite MRTI drivers.

Last year, the use of the #TeamCooperTire hashtag helped create over 60 million impressions and aided in growing series related Twitter accounts tremendously during the season.  Growth of Twitter accounts was a follows:

  • @IndyLIghts: 180%
  • @TeamCooperTire: 65%
  • @ProMazda: 59%
  • @USF2000: 31%

Don’t forget to follow Team Cooper Tire on Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t forget to follow Mazda Racing on Twitter.

After a long off-season, Matthew Brabham is looking forward.

The when, what and where of Mathew Brabham’s 2015 racing plans were answered when Andretti Autosport and Brabham announced that he would be piloting the No. 83 Mazda powered Dallara car in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire field at the season opening pair of races during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Although it hasn’t been easy for the young American born, Australian raised driver, he offered a reflective and honest answer when asked about the delay in putting a deal together.   “We’ve been struggling getting sponsorship together,” said 2012 USF2000 and 2013 Pro Mazda champion.  “I’ve had it easy over the last couple of years with the Mazda scholarship, and it’s made me a little to bit relaxed on that side.  Going out, this year, and having to try and find sponsorship myself has definitely been tough, but I think it’s been a good life experience and for my career.  It’s going to definitely help me when I get further up in my career.  Me and my dad haven’t really been used to having to do it quite as extensively as we have been recently, and we are both learning together.”

As far as his chances of racing beyond St. Pete?  “At the moment, we have nothing, so zero,” explained Brabham.  “But we’re going to be working hard and obviously if we have a good result at St. Pete, it’s going to greatly increase our chances.”

Luckily the 21 year-old won’t be heading to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg double header completely blind.  Brabham was able to drive car at the Dallara simulator in Speedway, Indiana in the fall, and the Andretti Autosport team will be testing on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Monday, March 23, 2015.  “There will be a couple of teams there as well,” said Brabham.  “So hopefully we’ll be able to get a good read on where we are.”

Putting together a last minute, one race program with the pressure to perform right out of the box is at best, a difficult proposition.  However, Brabham thinks that a familiarity with the team and his engineer could help him overcome the obstacles he faces.

“I’ve worked with Andretti (Autosport), this will be my third year with them, so I know everybody on the team really well.” explained Brabham.  “I know Shelby (his Indy Lights teammate) really well, we’re all family, we’ve all worked together previously, and we all get along really well, so it’s going to be easy to fit in and start focusing straight away on getting good results.

The importance of an effective working relationship between a driver and his engineer is often an overlooked aspect of a successful team.  Brabham has spent the off-season testing and racing with the Andretti Autosport FIA Formula E program, and his engineer with that program, Dave Seyffert, will continue with Brabham in Indy Lights.  “Dave and I both jumped into Formula E relatively new and had to go out there and perform straight away” said Brabham.  “We both know how to work together, and how to attack a new car and a new experience.  That’s going to be a big help.”

Seyffert has been with Andretti Autosport for over a decade at an assistant engineer and research and development engineer on the Verizon IndyCar Series side of the shop.  He was Dario Franchitti’s assistant engineer when he won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2007.  The Michigan State grad has also spent time with Johansson Motorsport and Conquest Racing.

For a lot of drivers scoring a win, four podiums and fourth place in the championship in your rookie season  of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire would be considered a successful season.  When asked about his 2014 season, Brabham said, “I wasn’t quite happy with my performance in the Indy Lights season last year.  Even though it was quite good, I wanted to win the championship.  I’ve definitely had a step back and a think of how to improve everything.”

Brabham credited some of his success during a dominating 13 win Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship in 2013 to spending plenty of time behind the wheel in the off-season after winning the Team USA Scholarship.  Brabham hopes that his Formula E experience during the winter will have the same impact.

Brabham does think that this car will suit his driving style a little better than the previous Indy Lights car.  Regarding the driving style need for the new Mazda powered IL-15, he said, “I feel this car will be quite good of a stepping stone from Pro Mazda.  It sounds like it’s closer to a more realistic race car driving style.  The old Indy Lights car was so outdated that it had it’s own driving style, that didn’t quite relate to the Verizon IndyCar Series car or to the previous rungs (USF2000 & Pro Mazda) of the ladder.”

But, that certainly doesn’t mean he didn’t learn anything from the old car.  Being able to adapt is something that all elite drivers do.  Look at drivers like Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe who can go back and forth between IndyCar and sports cars.   “Even though the old car wasn’t quite up to date”, Brabham explained. “It still taught a lot; it taught the adaptability side.”

In five races on the 14-Turn 1.8 mile street circuit, Brabham has scored two victories and four podiums and will be looking to turn that experience on the tricky track into the results he needs to propel a two race deal into a full season deal.

Make sure you are following along with Mathew’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire weekend schedule

DAY TIME EVENT
Friday 9:30am-10am Practice 1
Friday 3:30pm-4pm Practice 2
Saturday 9:30am-10am Qualifying
Saturday 2:25pm-3:15pm Race 1
Sunday 12:45pm-1:55pm Race 2

You can follow all the Indy Lights on-track action with IndyCar Radio on Sirius channel 213, XM channel or here —> Live Timing and Scoring and Radio link.

Mazda Road To Indy update – Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 driver signings.

With Cooper Tires Winterfest in the rearview mirror and the start of the Mazda Road To Indy regular season only a week away, it is time to get caught up with some recent driver signings.  Expect some more announcements in the next week, as teams get their 2015 driver line-ups buttoned down before the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

There is also one significant Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire signing that is not included below.  Matthew Brabham will be rejoining Andretti Autosport for the first race at St. Pete.  We will have an interview with him on the site this evening.

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Pabst Racing's newest driver, Jake Eidson, is focused on scoring the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship in 2015 (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Pabst Racing’s newest driver, Jake Eidson, is focused on scoring the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship in 2015 (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Signing with Pabst Racing, Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda sophomore driver, Jacob Eidson, immediately becomes one of the favorites in to take home the championship.

“I’m extremely excited to be coming back for another year of USF2000 with Pabst Racing,” said Eidson. “The team has done a lot of work during the off season to make sure that I have the best opportunity for success.”

The 19 year-old spent the 2014 USF2000 season fighting with Florian Latorre and RC Enerson for top spot and $200,000 Mazda Motorsports scholarship, but fell just short, using two victories and nine podiums to finish third, only 19 points behind eventual champion Latorre.

Hailing form Littleton, Colorado, Eidson was leading the recently contested Cooper Tires Winterfest until a broken fuel pump ended his championship hopes on the first lap of the final race at Barber Motorsports Park.  During the five race winter series he scored: two wins, four podiums, one pole and three quickest laps.

“St. Pete can’t come soon enough for us! Jake’s consistent speed and maturity behind the wheel at Winterfest was an impressive demonstration of what every team is looking for in a driver,” said Augie Pabst. “We are thrilled to have Jake on board for the 2015 season and have high expectations for great results throughout the year.”

Eidson joins Yufeng Luo at Pabst Racing, an Oconomowoc, Wisconsin based team that was founded by in 1983 by Augie Pabst, Jr., a sports car legend.  The team has decades of experience preparing Van Diemen F2000 cars and is currently helmed by Augie Pabst III.

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JDC Motorsports recently announced that Parker Nicklin would join the team for a full season assault on the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire campaign.  He becomes the fourth Pro Mazda driver for the Savage, Minnestoa based squad, joining already announced drivers: Michael Johnson, Kyle Connery and Raoul Owens.

Nicklin commented on what it means to be a JDC MotorSports team member: “I am overjoyed by the privilege and honor of driving on a winning team and maximizing value for my sponsors and partners. Winning the Indianapolis 500 feels real.”

“We are very excited and happy to have Nicklin join us for the 2015 season,” stated John Church, team principal of JDC MotorSports. “Nicklin has shown that he knows the car, the speed and the race craft already, finishing second in the Pro Mazda Formula Car Challenge last year indicating that he is ready to be a frontrunner in the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship.”

The 18 year-old, who is a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports development driver, contested two Pro Mazda Races in 2014, gaining a total of ten spots in the twin contests at Sonoma Raceway.    The Henderson, NV native also spent 2014 competing in the Pro Formula Mazda category of the west coast based Formula Car Challenge, taking home one victory, and 11 podiums on the way to a second place championship finish.   Nicklin also has experience competing in Skip Barber seasonal series.

Nicklin is heavily involved in an anti-texting initiative called “Just Let It Ring”

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On March 14th Santiago Urrutia tweeted that he would be joining Team Pelfrey for the 2015 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire campaign.  He is the first Pro Mazda driver signed to the teams Pro Mazda stable.

The Miguelete, Uruguay native has spent the past four seasons honing his craft in Europe.  The 18 year-old spent two years in Formula Abarth, one season in Euro F3 Open and 2014 racing in GP3.  His record includes eight wins and 28 podiums.

Team Pelfrey are expected to field a two car Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire team in addition to a four car Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda effort.  The Palmetto, Florida based team recently took home the top spot in Cooper Tires Winterfest with driver Jack Aitken, and also scored the 2011 and 2012 Pro Mazda team championships.

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Stand-out karter Nicolas Dapero will be joining Juncos Racing as a development driver where he embark on an extensive program that will include simulator work, extensive testing and also working with team engineers, driver coaches and mechanics to help prepare him on and off track for the Mazda Road To Indy.

The Buenos Aires, Argentina native took part in the Fórmula Metropolitana Argentina championship last year and will compete in the Formula Renault 2.0 series in 2015.

“I am very happy to be a part of Juncos Racing knowing that I am on the right path,” said Dapero. “I worked a lot in Argentina with my coach Marcelo La Manna watching the cameras and data. I recently began testing with Juncos Racing at Palm Beach and I am extremely happy with the two days we spent at Palm Beach. The team was really positive with my improvements since my last run in the car at Houston last year. I want to highlight the work done with Peter Dempsey and all the team members who did an excellent job!”

Thanks so much for reading!

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