MINNEAPOLIS – Afterburner Autosport has signed junior formula car up-and-comers Wyatt Gooden and Jake Eidson to race during the upcoming USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest in Florida.
The race-winning duo will make their USF2000 Championship debuts in the ‘off-season’ championship, giving Afterburner Autosport one of the most dynamic driver line-ups in the Mazda Road to Indy series.
After a solid rookie campaign in the USF2000 Championship that featured four top-10s, Afterburner Autosport enters its second season of series action focused on joining the front-running ranks and challenging for race wins. In signing F2000 Championship Series runner-up Gooden and Skip Barber Summer Series Champion Edison as part of an expanded multi-car effort in the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program, the two-time SCCA Formula Continental National Championship-winning team is poised to do just that.
Add in the fact that Eidson was fourth fastest in the year-end Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gooden has impressed in private testing, and the team is enhancing its engineering department – to be announced shortly – the stage is set for a breakout campaign.
“We are very excited to have Jake and Wyatt behind the wheels when the Winterfest gets underway at Sebring,” stated team principal Tim Walsh. “Both drivers are extremely talented and have impressed us with their maturity and attitude. The goal now is to give them all the tools needed to challenge for race wins.”
“Running the Winterfest at Sebring will be a great opportunity for Afterburner and I to get a head start on the season, and see where we stand,” commented Gooden. “We work well together, and I know they’re going to provide a good car, so I’m looking forward to the task next week.”
“I’m very excited to do the first round of the USF2000 Winterfest with Afterburner Autosport,” added Eidson. “Sebring is one of my favorite tracks, partly because I was able to win my first Skip Barber Championship there. Now being able to race in the Cooper Tires USF2000
Championship Powered by Mazda with Afterburner Autosport is an amazing opportunity, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Gooden, who will run the full 13-race Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season in addition to the Winterfest opening tripleheader, joins Afterburner Autosport with not only a successful, but unique, racing resume.
Unlike the majority of his peers, Gooden did not transition from karts directly to cars, instead establishing himself as a leading sim racer before getting the opportunity to race and win in the SCCA VW TDI Cup. After earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, he made his formula car debut, winning all four races he contested in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. Last year, the 24 year-old Cleveland, Ohio, native moved up the motorsports ladder, winning twice in the F2000 Championships Series as a rookie en route to second in the title chase.
Eidson enters the Winterfest series with Afterburner Autosport as a multiple champion. The 17 year-old from Colorado, having captured a TaG Junior title in the karting ranks, continued his championship-winning ways upon making the transition to cars. Eidson won the 2011-12 Skip Barber presents the Mazda Winter Series with four victories, before adding the Skip Barber Summer Series crown this past year, thanks to nine wins.