For the 24th straight year, a selection of talented young American drivers will vie for prestigious Team USA Scholarships which will potentially allow them to follow in the footsteps of former winners such as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, A.J. Allmendinger, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly.
Eight candidates have been identified from a variety of racing series. Ultimately, two winners will be selected to contest a couple of traditional end-of-season events in England – the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, which regularly attracts more than 100 Formula Ford contenders and has been won three times by Team USA Scholarship representatives in the past five years (Conor Daly in ‘08, Connor De Phillippi in ‘09 and Tristan Nunez in ‘12.) Each weekend will comprise three races. Additional opportunities will be announced at a later date.
This year's candidates are:
• Joey Bickers, 21, from Seattle, Wash. - currently second in the Pacific F1600 Series (3 wins)
• Jake Eidson, 18, from Littleton, Colo. - F1600 Championship Series points leader (4 wins)
• Sean Rayhall, 18, from Winston, Ga. - Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites points leader (5 wins)
• Skylar Robinson, 17, From Augusta, Ga. - BRSCC Avon Tires FF1600 series in England (2 wins)
• Elliott Skeer, 18, from Carlsbad, Calif. - currently second in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup (4 wins)
• Madison Snow, 17, from Pleasant Grove, Utah - tied for the lead in the IMSA GT3 Challenge (3 wins)
• Adrian Starrantino, 18, from Simi Valley, Calif. - currently second in the F1600 Championship Series (3 wins)
• Aaron Telitz, 21, from Birchwood, Wis. - currently third in the F1600 Championship Series (1 win)
All eight candidates have been invited to attend this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (which will feature all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy – Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Firestone Indy Lights), where they will be interviewed by an illustrious panel of judges including former scholarship winners Herta, Kimball and Newgarden, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull, IndyCar President of Operations and Competition Derrick Walker, Audi Sport Customer Teams Director of Operations-Engineering Brad Kettler, USF2000 and Pro Mazda series promoter Dan Andersen, owner of Performance Prime/author of Performance Thinking Dr. Jacques Dallaire, PitFit Training principal Jim Leo, RaceCraft1 simulation expert and former F-16 pilot Kelly Jones and Sparco USA's Billy Deakins.
“Being a part of the Team USA Scholarship selection process has been a huge privilege for me over the last few years,” said Newgarden, who in 2008 became the first American ever to win the Formula Ford Festival and this weekend will drive in the feature event for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. “Having gone through the program myself, I already know the opportunity that awaits each candidate that is selected.