The selection process for this year's Team USA Scholarship program is well under way. A dozen young American drivers have been nominated, hailing from a multitude of racing backgrounds, and this weekend will meet with an illustrious panel of auto racing experts during the IZOD IndyCar Series/American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patron double-header at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The candidates will vie for opportunities to contest two prestigious events in England – the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone – in October and November. All will be looking to follow in the footsteps of an accomplished list of former winners that includes Jimmy Vasser, who won the first Team USA Scholarship in 1990, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, A.J. Allmendinger, Joey Hand, Andy Lally, Bryan Sellers, Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden.
This year's contenders, with their hometown and current racing series, are:
- Neil Alberico, 18, Los Gatos, Calif. – MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain
- Scott Anderson, 22, Fort Collins, Colo. – BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda series leader
- Sam Beasley, 17, Cleveland, Ohio – F1600 Championship Series/SCCA Formula E
- Kyle Connery, 20, Vero Beach, Fla. – F2000 Championship Series (four wins and top rookie)
- Wyatt Gooden, 22, Gates Mills, Ohio – F1600 Championship Series (double victory at Mid-Ohio)
- Trent Hindman, 15, Wayside, N.J. – BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda/Ontario Formula Ford 1600
- Michael Johnson, 18, Flint, Mich. – Skip Barber Summer Series points leader
- Brandon Newey, 18, Indianapolis, Ind. – BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda (2 wins)
- Austin Newmark, 16, Mesa, Ariz. – Bondurant Championship Race Series champion (12 wins)
- Sebastian Ordonez, 16, Deerfield Beach, Fla. – BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Spencer Pigot, 17, Windermere, Fla. – Cooper Tires USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda (1 win)
- Colin Thompson, 17, Perkasie, Pa. – F1600 Championship Series
- Dennis Trebing, 19, Cape Coral, Fla. – European Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup
- Zach Veach, 16, Stockdale, Ohio – Cooper Tires USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda (1 win)
The adjudicating panel is scheduled to include past scholarship winners Vasser, Hand, Sellers and Hildebrand, plus ALMS drivers Jon Bennett, Darren Law, Patrick Long and Chris McMurry, IZOD IndyCar Series President Randy Bernard, American Le Mans Series President Scott Atherton and Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan.
"There is a tremendous depth of talent at the grassroots of American auto racing these days and I am delighted to be able to offer these gifted youngsters an opportunity to develop their skills," said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. "I am so grateful to all the industry insiders who make this program possible and especially to those who are giving up their time this weekend to meet with the latest crop of candidates."