MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Open-wheel racing and former midget and sprint car driver Timothy Paul has signed an agreement to race in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship in 2014 for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Prior to the 2014 season, Paul, who has run competitively in the F2000 Championship Series, will spend 2013 competing in both F2000 and USF2000 in a CellMark Paper-sponsored entry to gain the maximum amount of seat time possible.
“2013 is going to be a turning point for me. We really need to focus this year and put our program together in a whole new way to compete where I think we should, near the front of the field,” said Paul.
The 2013 USF2000 schedule features races at Sebring with ALMS, St. Petersburg with IndyCar, the Night before the 500, Toronto and Mid-Ohio with IndyCar, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Grand-Am, and the Houston Grand Prix at Reliant Park with IndyCar.
Paul will drive a green and orange Van Diemen, with the livery inspired by Mazda’s LeMan’s winning 787b. Engineering support will come from GTP Motorsports led by Glenn Phillips and Michael Witson.
“This is something that you can only dream about growing up, and it’s been a long road,” Paul said. “Our involvement with Foyt Racing is going to enhance every single component of our team, from our weekend strategies and competitiveness to our resources and confidence. I could not be more proud about this season and what we have accomplished in less than three years of road racing competition.”
Paul, who said A.J. Foyt is one of his heroes, met Foyt at an IndyCar race at Nazareth, where the Indy 500 legend autographed a then-young-race-fan’s karting helmet. Paul started karting at age nine.
“It was always easy for me to look up to him in awe, because we had done the same types of things in the motorsport world. I began on dirt and never ran a road course in my life until three years ago, at my Skip Barber license school before my first season of the Championship Series. I was a dirt oval, sprint car and midget guy through and through. A.J. was one of the guys that lived in that world in a larger-than-life context,” Paul added. “I feel like my ride has just begun, and I honestly feel it couldn’t have started in a more historic, revered and flat out awesome way than to be hooked up with Foyt Racing.”
Team Director Larry Foyt is looking forward to working with young Paul in 2014 as well as the expansion of the team which will serve his long term goals for the A.J. Foyt Racing team.
“Tim has done a lot of different open wheel racing in his career coming through the midgets and sprints which we appreciate more than most IndyCar teams I think,” said Foyt. “I watched him run some Formula 2000 races last year and I think he has a lot of potential. He’ll be competing in the USF2000 series next year to be ready for Indy Lights in 2014. He’s worked very hard to get this opportunity and it will be a strong team effort. It works well for us as well because I’ve wanted to start up our Indy Lights program again. Not only is it a great feeder program for young drivers but also for young mechanics who aspire to work in the IndyCar Series. Being in Texas, we’re a bit removed from the racing hub but we enjoy bringing on young guys and training them our way.”
The Franklin Pierce University student, majoring in English, is a cancer survivor, and will contest the 2013 season for GTP Motorsports and SMR Racing in the No. 06 Van Diemen/Zetec in the F2000 Championship Series, switching over to a similar Van Diemen, although with a Mazda powerplant for the full USF2000 Championship schedule.
“Being able to compete in front of the IndyCar and ALMS crowds on the same weekends is going to be the thrill of a lifetime,” Paul said. “I can’t thank everyone involved from Foyt and my team enough, so I am not going to try to do it in words. I will show them how much I appreciate and am grateful for their trust, support and friendship out on the track, by performing the best that I possibly can and making sure everyone around me is proud to have me where I am, and proud that they went out on a limb to support us.”
Paul finished sixth overall in a highly competitive edition of the 2012 F2000 Series, his third year in the Championship, and will head to Florida in January to gain some laps in a Van Diemen/Mazda during the winter SCCA Nationals at Sebring Int’l Raceway to continue development of the USF2000 car.
The 27-year-old fits in well with the Foyt Racing program, having a long resume of regional sprint and midget experience before Tim and his father attended a F2000 race in 2009 and decided to go road racing.