The quest to select two talented young American racecar drivers to represent the Team USA Scholarship in a pair of prestigious end-of-season Formula Ford events in England continued this week as six worthy candidates were put through their paces at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla.
The contestants – Joey Bickers, 21, from Seattle, Wash.; Jake Eidson, 18, from Littleton, Colo.; Sean Rayhall, 18, from Winston, Ga.; Skylar Robinson, 17, from Augusta, Ga.; Adrian Starrantino, 18, from Simi Valley, Calif.; and Aaron Telitz, 21, from Birchwood, Wis. – have all made their mark this season, winning races in a variety of series and categories. Unsurprisingly, they proved extremely closely matched at the wheel of both a USF2000 Van Diemen-Mazda and an SCCA Spec Racer Ford fielded by Jay Green's JAY Motorsports team.
The assessments also included media interviews with Brant James of ESPN.com and Autoweek.com and a fitness test, devised by Jim Leo of PitFit Training in conjunction with Anders Krohn and Jonny Baker of Co-Force International, which was conducted in brutally hot and humid conditions, as well as a Mental Preparation seminar hosted by noted expert Dr. Jacques Dallaire, founder of Performance Prime and highly acclaimed author of Performance Thinking.
“Quite honestly, this might be the tightest group I have encountered in more than 20 years of running the program,” said Team USA Scholarship founder and noted auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. “I am well aware that everyone wants to know who will carry on the legacy that was begun by Jimmy Vasser in 1990 and has been perpetuated by a series of extraordinarily talented drivers, but that decision will require a great deal of thought and consideration. It's not a task to be taken lightly.”
The panel of judges also included accomplished open-wheel and sports car racer Ryan Dalziel, who was equally impressed by the group.
“I am a big supporter of bringing the future into motorsports,” said Dalziel, “and what Jeremy and the Team USA Scholarship have provided every year since 1990 is priceless. I was honored to be part of their on-track evaluations and not only did I meet six very talented young stars, I made six new friends. It's going to be really tough to pick two winners but I can honestly say that any of the six will represent Team USA proudly. I wish them all the best of luck and look forward to seeing their careers grow from here.”