Dale Pelfrey, who fielded an IndyCar team from 1998-2000 has announced that he will form a race team to compete in the Star Mazda Championship under the banner of Team Pelfrey. Nick Andries (LEFT), a rising young open-wheel racer who competed in both the 2010 Skip Barber National series and the Star Mazda Championship with sponsorship from Pelfrey, is the new team's first driver.
Headed by veteran open-wheel team manager Geoff Fickling and headquartered at a new 6300 sq. ft. facility in the Clearwater, Fla., area, Pelfrey Indy Racing will make its official Star Mazda series debut at St. Petersburg.
"I ventured back into race team ownership after a 10-year hiatus because I was seeing so many talented young racers like Nick fail to get the opportunity to move up and race in the Star Mazda," said Pelfrey, former owner of Dayton, Ohio's Enginetics Aerospace, a company specializing in the design and manufacturer of jet engine components for the international market.
"The Star Mazda series is only one step below (Firestone) Indy Lights and a valuable stepping-stone in the professional career ladder (Mazda Road) to Indy. I have hired an experienced, professional crew for P.I.R. which will be led by Geoff Fickling, who won the 2010 Team Championship with Andersen Racing. I have also re-signed a fine young driver, Nick Andries who I have supported throughout his racing career. My plan is to add two more drivers making P.I.R. a solid three-car team."
Team Pelfrey signed Sarah Fisher as an 18-year-old rookie to compete in IndyCar in 1999. Pelfrey's team also has also provided racing opportunities to a number of other drivers including Lyn St. James, Danny Ongais, Memo Gidley, Bryan Tyler, Billy Boat, Robby Unser and John Paul Jr.
"I want to thank Dale for his support throughout my racing career and for what I feel is my most important opportunity so far," said Andries, a 20-year-old college student at St. Petersburg College. "The opportunity to start a new team is very exciting because P.I.R. has put together the right personnel for success. It's a new team, however all the guys know each other and have worked together before. As a result, I strongly believe the team and I will be ready to contend for race wins – and ultimately the 2011 championship – starting at St. Pete."
The team moved into its new shop on Dec. 15. Equipment has been purchased and an experienced full-time crew, many who worked for the successful Andersen Racing Star Mazda team, has already begun preparations for next season.
"First of all, we're extremely grateful to Dale for not only putting this team together, but how he has assembled it," Fickling said. "From day one when we first began discussing this venture, he made it clear that if we were to do this, he wanted it to be done the right way and every step of the way he has proven that. We've assembled the best of the best in terms of personnel, equipment, shop space, and the resources to immediately contend for a championship. I can't express enough how excited we are to be a part of a project like this."