Six talented young American drivers will assemble this week at the new Polecat Training Center facility in Lynchburg, Tenn., as part of a continuing process to select two Team USA Scholarship winners for 2021. Following two days of assessments, which will include driving on the technical 2.1-mile road course aboard the Polecat Racing Academy’s well proven 2.0-liter formula cars, as well as a fitness evaluation with industry expert Jim Leo, president of Indianapolis, Ind.-based PitFit Training, a pair of winners will contest the 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England, on October 30/31, and the following weekend’s equally prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone, held in honor of the founding father of Formula Ford.
The finalists have been chosen from a group of 12 candidates, each of whom was invited to submit a variety of assignments to be evaluated by a 20-strong panel of auto racing insiders representing virtually every aspect of the sport.
The six finalists are:
• Jason Alder, 18, from Cooksville, Md. – competing in the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda
• Andre Castro, 22, from New York, N.Y. – partial season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship
• Nicholas d’Orlando, 18, from Hartsdale, N.Y. – leads the FRP F1600 Championship Series
• Max Esterson, 18, from New York, N.Y. – second in the BRSCC Avon Tires British Formula Ford Championship
• Ayrton Houk, 18, from McCordsville, Ind. – leads the Mel Kenyon Midget Series and races in SCCA FF/F1600
• Bryson Morris, 16, from Mt. Juliet, Tenn. – leads the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series
Matt Christensen, 16, from Orlando, Fla., Arias Deukmedjian, 16, from Merritt Island, Fla., Ax Kametches, 20, from Atlanta, Ga., Jonathan Lee, 20, from Miami, Fla., Colin Queen, 16, from Coto de Caza, Calif., and Thomas Schrage, 16, from Bethel, Ohio, also were part of the original selection process.
“We at Polecat Training Center are so excited that the Team USA Scholarship chose PTC Driving Academy to host this prestigious talent search,” said Polecat Racing Academy Owner Keith Watts. “I am honored to contribute back to young aspiring racing drivers through this program, and track owner Paul Arnold is delighted to help further these young racers’ careers.”
The final decision will be made by a panel of judges which will include former Team USA Scholarship winners Josef Newgarden, Andy Lally and Aaron Jeansonne, as well as Kelly Jones, proprietor of RaceCraft1 Simulator Training, Honda/Acura Public Relations representative Dan Layton, author and RACER Marketing and Media editor Steve Nickless, and Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw.
“I can’t wait to meet this year’s candidates and I am honored to play a small role in the 2021 scholarship program,” said Lally. “Jeremy has worked so hard for so many years to search for and assemble the best young driving talent the United States has to offer and then give them a stage to show off their talents and potential. It is such a fun alumni to be a part of and this year’s crop of drivers are chomping at the bit to fulfill a lifelong dream of a career in auto racing.”