In what has been somewhat of a forward step in the rewards for the winner of the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, it has been announced by Sam Roach of RacingLine, the promoter of Formula Ford, that this year’s overall winner will have the opportunity of a lifetime, which could propel the champion’s career skyward. This includes an all-expenses-paid trip Stateside, where a full day of testing in a USF2000 single-seater will take place, followed by a further day’s testing in a Star Mazda race car.
With previous Formula Ford GB drivers like 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button and Indycar regular Josef Newgarden having cut their teeth in this series, the new incentive to all the drivers competing in the premier series, is in fact, another way to provide welcomed global recognition for Formula Ford EcoBoost itself. This is notably the case, with Roach being hopeful that this will help future drivers in their aspirations via such a recognized platform for many years to come: “We very much hope that our new link with Mazda Road to Indy will give all our drivers new options to explore for the furtherance of their careers.”
Jason Penix, who is currently INDYCAR director of grassroots initiatives, was happy to welcome the partnership of the two categories, and looks forward to what will be the birth of a racing scheme, that will help to inject much-needed motivation for those young drivers looking to move up: “It is the perfect gateway to encourage junior European drivers to travel across the Atlantic to race in America, and we hope this will happen for years to come. The Road to Indy offers drivers a clear pathway all the way to the top of the motorsport ladder, which ties in perfectly with Formula Ford's commitment to their drivers' futures.”
Throughout the season itself, representatives from Mazda Road to Indy will attend some of the races, and will take time to explain to both drivers and families how to get involved in the programme, as well as explaining the way the system works, so as to educate them in a way, with the benefits being that of to help the drivers to graduate their way up the ranks.
The path for the scheme starts off with the USF2000 champion getting a scholarship to race in Star Mazda, followed by an Indy Lights fully-funded race seat, and then the big prize of $1 million dollars to race in the IZOD INDYCAR series, with Josef Newgarden already paving the way forward. The 2009 Formula Ford GB vice-champion now joins the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team for this year, having won last year’s Indy Lights Title, and is accompanied by the likes of Rubens Barrichello, Scott Dixon and Mike Conway, who are also former Formula Ford veterans, on the grid.
It seems as if the drivers will be fighting for more than just pride, points, glory and honour this season, as when push comes to shove, things will really heat up, when the first wheels are turned in anger at Oulton Park.