RJB Motorsports Begins USF2000 Quest with Top-10 Finish in Florida
Driver Michai Stephens Showcases STEM Education at Turner/Bartels K-8 School
STURGIS, Mich. (March 28, 2016) – RJB Motorsports marked its debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with a top-10 finish on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and is now setting its sights on the next two races which will take place in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on April 22-24.
The USF2000 series, which will be contested over 16 races this year, represents step one on the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder which provides scholarships at every level to assist drivers in graduating from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. After four years of racing in the SCCA’s Formula 600 category, RJB Motorsports is running a pair of USF2000 Van Diemen-Mazda cars for former F600 champion Clint McMahan, from Covington, Ga., and Team USA Scholarship winner Michai Stephens, from Evanston, Ill.
The RJB team began its quest by taking part in the two-day Mazda Road to Indy Spring Training test session at scenic Barber Motorsports Park on March 6-7 – a final opportunity to prepare for the first two races on the unforgiving street circuit in St. Petersburg. RJB then made a stop at Turner Bartels K-8 School in Tampa, Fla., to introduce its students to auto racing and help promote its focus on #STEM education featuring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. RJB driver Michai Stephens showcased his #19 Wild Boar Energy Drink/Metalloid race car, answered questions for the students and shared his unique story of how he became a racing driver.
“It took me back to where my journey all started,” said Stephens. “Seeing their faces light up was a pleasant reminder as to just how far I have come.”
Then it was on to St. Petersburg for the first two races of the season. The two RJB cars lined up in 17th (Stephens) and 20th (McMahan) after qualifying for the first race but immediately moved forward through the extremely competitive 26-car pack. McMahan emerged in an astonishing fifth place following an incident on the first corner with Stephens just a couple of places farther back in seventh. An action-packed 30-minute race ended with McMahan in seventh, earning the Tilton Hard Charger Award, and Stephens in 11th.
Unfortunately, Stephens’ car had sustained damage in the first race which, despite the crew’s best efforts, could not be repaired in time for Race Two later in the afternoon. Flying the RJB flag alone, McMahan once again made good progress, rising from 20th to 13th and reporting over the radio that his car was performing better than ever, before his day ended prematurely just a couple of laps shy of the finish following contact with another car.