Candidates for the three 2013 Team USA Scholarships met with and were interviewed by the organization’s illustrious panel of motorsports experts during the IZOD IndyCar program this past weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
This year’s scholarship hopefuls are Joey Bickers, 21, from Moorpark, Calif.; Jake Eidson, 18, of Littleton, Colo.; Sean Rayhall, 18, Winston, Ga.; Skylar Robinson, 17, Augusta, Ga.; Elliott Skeer, 18, Carlsbad, Calif.; Madison Snow, 17, Pleasant Grove, Utah; Adrian Starrantino, 18, Simi Valley, Calif.; and Aaron Telitz, 21, from Birchwood, Wis. All were on-site at Mid-Ohio save Robinson, who was interviewed Friday evening via a live link from England where he was racing – and winning – at Brands Hatch.
The panel of judges comprised past scholarship winners Bryan Herta, Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Joel Miller, Conor Daly, Josef Newgarden and Spencer Pigot along with a wide variety of industry leaders including Tim Cindric (Penske Racing), Mike Hull (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), John Doonan (Mazda Motorsports), Brad Kettler (Audi Sport), Derrick Walker and Jason Penix (INDYCAR), Dan Andersen (Pro Mazda/USF2000), Nigel Tuckey (Pelfrey Performance), Dr. Jacques Dallaire (Performance Prime), Jim Leo (PitFit Training), Billy Deakins (Sparco USA), Kelly Jones (RaceCraft1) as well as Indy Lights race winner Peter Dempsey, NBC Sports Network TV announcers Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee, and RACER contributor Marshall Pruett.
A fitting backdrop to the Team USA Scholarship process was on-track competition at Mid-Ohio where past scholarship winners were having a field day. 2003 scholarship winner Charlie Kimball scored his first ever IZOD IndyCar Series victory Sunday for Chip Ganassi Racing. Earlier Matthew Brabham from the 2012 Team USA winning trio dominated the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires with a pair of victories for Andretti Autosport. And 2011 alumnus Neil Alberico won two of three Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.“It was just an incredible weekend,” said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. “I am so grateful to everyone who took time out of their hectic schedules during a race weekend to share their experiences with the next generation of stars, and thrilled to see so many of our scholarship winners performing so well on the race track. Perhaps it was prescient that Charlie should join us on Friday, then go on to win his first IndyCar race in such style on Sunday? The next step is to identify this year’s winners. It won’t be easy but we expect to have a decision by early September.”
The Road Racing Drivers Club with its ground-breaking www.SAFEisFAST.com online tutorial is but one of some 20 companies and individuals supporting Team USA Scholarship this season. Formed in 1990, the program has been providing opportunities for talented young American race drivers since its inception.