RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — Six finalists for this year’s Team USA Scholarship will be put through their paces during a one-day shootout later this month hosted by Cooper Tires and the Lucas Oil School of Racing at Palm Beach Int’l Raceway in Jupiter, Fla.
The day also will include a fitness element conducted by Jim Leo of Indianapolis-based PitFit Training.
The Team USA Scholarship originated in 1990 when a young Jimmy Vasser was selected to contest the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England. Subsequent scholarship winners include IndyCar race winners Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden; sports car standouts Andy Lally, Paul Edwards, Bryan Sellers and Dane Cameron; and rising stars such as Conor Daly, Matthew Brabham and Spencer Pigot.
The finalists have been chosen from 11 candidates who attended the recent Verizon IndyCar Series event at Mid-Ohio and were interviewed by a panel of judges including scholarship winners Herta, Kimball, Newgarden and Pigot, plus factory Porsche driver Patrick Long, Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull, Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires promoter Dan Andersen and factory Mazda racer (and former Team USA grad) Joel Miller. The group also met with Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman and Co., the parent company of INDYCAR, toured Race Control with racer-turned-steward Max Papis, and gained an opportunity to see the inner workings of the K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsport McLaren Pirelli World Challenge team, courtesy of Austin Cindric.
“All of the candidates found the experience enlightening,” said Team USA founder and auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. “They learned a great deal about the inner workings of the sport and were able to meet a selection of influential figures who can help them as they work their way up the ladder. At the same time it was an opportunity for us to learn more about the youngsters. The standard was high; deciding who would make the cut was extremely difficult.”
The following drivers will be making their way to South Florida for the shootout:
• Oliver Askew, 19, Jupiter, Fla., Skip Barber Racing Series
• Andre Castro, 17, New York, N.Y., Skip Barber Racing Series
• Konrad Czaczyk, 19, Jupiter, Fla., F4 U.S. Championship powered by Honda
• Tim de Silva, 20, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Pacific F2000
• Kyle Kirkwood, 17, Jupiter, Fla., F4 U.S. Championship powered by Honda
• Robert Megennis, 16, New York, N.Y., Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
“All of us who make the Team USA Scholarship possible are grateful to the Allen Berg Racing Schools for hosting the shootout for the past few years,” Shaw continued. “Unfortunately, circumstances precluded Allen from being able to do so again this year, so a big thank-you to Chris Pantani at Cooper Tires, as well as Neil Enerson and Todd Snyder at the Lucas Oil School of Racing for stepping up and offering to hold this valuable element of our selection process.”