PRI Notes: Bernard ‘Excited’ About Clauson

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FAST TALKER: Randy Bernard talks to the media during a press conference to announce the Mazda Road to Indy sponsorship program Thursday at the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. (Adam Fenwick Photo)
FAST TALKER: Randy Bernard talks to the media during a press conference to announce the Mazda Road to Indy sponsorship program Thursday at the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. (Adam Fenwick Photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. — IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard confirmed during the annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show that the series will continue its relationship with USAC in 2011 by again offering a Firestone Indy Lights scholarship to the winner of the USAC National Driver’s Championship.

“I think that’s the most important thing we can do,” Bernard told National Speed Sport News Thursday. “That’s again working on our foundation, but the most important part of that is it’s bringing the best American [to IndyCar]. We’re not about the best American. We’re about the best of the best, period. But we should also be trying to showcase and deliver the best American and make sure they have an opportunity.”

The partnership, which was announced in October, grants the winner of the USAC National Driver’s Championship a $300,000 scholarship to compete in all the oval events on the Firestone Indy Lights Series schedule.

Bryan Clauson bested Levi Jones to win the National Driver’s title and claim the scholarship this year in addition to the USAC Mopar National Midget Series title. He will make his Firestone Indy Lights debut next May during the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

“I’m going to be Bryan Clauson’s biggest fan next year,” Bernard said. “I’m just totally excited he’s coming into the series. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch him race.”

– The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Ass’n was well represented during the PRI Trade Show. The organization, with partial funding from the Australian state of Victoria, organized a group of more than 20 companies that traveled to Florida for the trade show.

“For us now it’s more about consolidating our business,” said Mark Pedder, managing director of Pedders Suspension, one of the companies from Australia. “We’ve already got a good group of dealers. We’ve got some of our products licensed with GM. We’ve met with all those guys we are dealing with plus trying to pick up some new business.”

– Former Daytona 500 winner and NASCAR legend Marvin Panch still has it. When NSSN asked him what he’s been up to these days, he responded by saying, “About 220 pounds.”

– Anders Krohn, who finished second in the Star Mazda Championship Series standings this year, will step up to the Firestone Indy Lights Series full-time next season, driving an entry fielded by series newcomer Belardi Auto Racing. Canadian driver David Ostella will also graduate to Indy Lights next year, driving for Jensen MotorSport.

– Many exhibitors that NSSN spoke to during 23rd edition of the PRI Trade Show said that the show was a success. New relationships and business partnerships were being formed all over the Orange County Convention Center, a good sign in the current state of the economy.

– Peyton Sellers said Saturday that he is currently searching for sponsorship to run a limited schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next season.

– Honda and Mazda jointly announced Thursday the formation of B-Spec Showroom Stock racing. The two companies unveiled their entries for the proposed new low-cost B-Spec, developed from the MAZDA2 and Honda Fit.

Racers using the B-Spec cars will be able to race the same car in the SCCA, NASA and potentially other road racing sanctioning bodies by simply changing the sanctioning body decal.

– Tyler Reddick, a 15-year-old dirt-late-model driver from California, told NSSN that he will run for top rookie honors in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series next year.

– ModSpace will continue to expand its auto racing sponsorship program next season by sponsoring the American Le Mans Series LMP entry driven by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. ModSpace will also join the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series GT class as well as the Grand Am Rolex Series GT class as a sponsor.

– ASA Racing President Dennis Huth and ARCA Racing Series President Ron Drager were in good spirits Thursday afternoon, telling jokes and swapping stories about their many years in the racing industry.

– Spencer Pigot, the 2010 Skip Barber National champion, has signed a contract to drive for Andretti Autosport in the U.S. F2000 National Championship Series next season.