PALMETTO, Fla. — The Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout will return to the Valley of the Sun as the Bondurant Racing School near Phoenix, Ariz., will host the third annual event Dec. 8-9.
At stake for the 20 champions of junior open-wheel series from around the globe is a $200,000 scholarship from Mazda to enter the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2019 — the first step on the world-renowned driver development ladder system.
This year’s field is likely to comprise drivers representing at least 11 countries from Official Feeder Series in North and South America as well as Europe, Asia, Australasia and, for the first time, the continent of Africa.
Over 400 drivers have vied for an “entry ticket” to the Shootout, which awards each series’ champion a coveted invitation to the two-day outing. Champions must be between the ages of 14 and 25 by Sept. 30 to be considered and entry tickets are non-transferable.
The Bondurant Racing School main track – a 1.6-mile, 15-turn road course located at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park – will provide the playing field for drivers to showcase their skills during an intense two days of competition aboard Formula Mazda cars powered by Mazda rotary engines on Cooper tires.
Just as important as talent behind the wheel will be off-track presence as well as application of coaching feedback, and an illustrious panel of judges will once again be faced with a formidable task in determining the winner.
Longtime factory Mazda Motorsports representatives Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long will return to the panel alongside former Pro Mazda champion and Indy Lights driver Victor Franzoni and inaugural Shootout winner and 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew. They will be joined this year by USF2000 Race Director Jan Heylen, a former Indy car and current sports car driver.
Motorsports veteran Scot Elkins will return as Shootout Director. He is currently Deputy Race Director for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Race Director of the FIA Formula-E Championship and COO of the Motorsport Safety Foundation.
“The Bondurant Racing School provides an excellent platform for the Shootout and was a great host last year,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “We look forward to welcoming our international line-up of champions there in December. We have an outstanding panel of judges on board who, based on the standings in all of the feeder series I have been following, are set for some extremely tough decisions again this year. It will be an exciting two days and we look forward to crowning a new scholarship winner.”
Champions in several Official Feeder Series have already been crowned including Niall Murray (BRSCC British Formula Ford 1600), 23, of Dublin, Ireland and Ross Martin (SMRC Scottish FF1600), 17, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, both of whom will be returning as “veterans” to the Shootout.
New Zealand F1600 champion Callum Hedge of Auckland is the youngest in the field to date at 14. Others to have already earned Shootout invitations include Allan Croce (Brazil Kart Open), 18, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kellen Ritter (Toyo Tires F1600), 17, of North Vancouver, B.C.; Raghul Rangasamy (MRF F1600), 25, of Mahabalipuram, India; Matt Round-Garrido (FF1600 Northern Ireland), 18, of Stourbridge, England; and Guillaume Archambault (Formula Tour 1600), 24, of Granby, Quebec.