After a month long break after three “Month of May” races in Indianapolis, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda series is back in action with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda double header at the 14-Turn, 4.048-mile Road America road course.
The series has conducted seven races in support of the IMSA American LeMans Series at “America’s National Park of Speed” between 2010 and 2013 with the eventual USF2000 champion wining five of those seven races.
Previous USF2000 winners at Road America
|2012 Race #3
|Belardi Auto Racing
|2012 Race #2
|Cape Motorsports with /WTR
|2012 Race #1
|Cape Motorsports with /WTR
|2011 Race #2
|Cape Motorsports with /WTR
|2011- Race #1
|2010- Race #2
|2010 – Race #1
After a slow start to the season at the opening event in St. Petersburg for perennial championship contenders Cape Motorsports with /WTR, the sophomore duo of Parker Thompson and Anthony Martin have caught fire, with Thompson, the Canadian winning three times and Martin, the Australian winning twice.
The 18 year-old Thompson currently holds a 26-point lead over Martin, his 21 year-old teammate and it would be very surprising if the twosome was not in the hunt at Road America. Cape Motorsports with /WTR is the only active USF2000 team with a win (they have three) at Road America, and the St. Petersburg, Florida based squad also has a total of seven podiums at the circuit.
Local teams and drivers:
Headquartered just 10 miles from Road America in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, ArmsUp Motorsports will be fielding four cars at their home race, including two cars for drivers from the Badger State. The two “cheese heads” are Max Hanratty, a 22 year-old USF2000 sophomore from just outside Milwaukee, and Dale VandenBush a veteran SCCA competitor from nearby Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Filling out ArmsUp’s line-up is veteran Victor Franzoni, who has raced himself into the championship conversation with four podiums in the last five races, and series debutant Devin Wojick. Wojick, from Fayetteville, NY, who finished third in the just completed Skip Barber Winter Series.
While none of the three Pabst Racing drivers have experience at Road America, the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin team certainly does. Founder Augie Pabst, Jr has extensive experience at Road America winning two SCCA US Road Racing Championship races in 1963 and 1964. Current team principal Augie Pabst, III, raced at Road America in Sports Car Club of America events and was also a winner at Road America in a Shelby Can-Am car. The team-wide success has not just been limited to team ownership. Engineer and driver coach Tonis Kasemits has one Atlantic Series win to go along with two additional podiums. The Estonian born Kasemits has also has made one IndyCar and two USF2000 starts at Road America.
Pabst Racing drivers Jordan Lloyd (3rd in the championship), Yufeng Luo (5th in the championship) and Garth Rickards (9th in the championship) will need to take advantage of all that local experience if they want to claw their way back into the championship.
It’s also the home race for series engine builder Elite Engines. Founder Steve Knapp, his son Logan Knapp and the rest of the company work out of a 16,000 square foot facility located just 30 miles south of Road America in West Bend, Wisconsin.
Other drivers TSO will be watching are:
JAY Motorsports Luke Gabin will be looking for a rebound weekend. The 21 year-old from Perth, Australia started the season with four straight top fives, but cooled off with an average finish of only 11.3 in the series three races in Indianapolis.
The top rookie in the series so far is Team Pelfrey’s Robert Megennis. The 16 year-old has two podiums and has finished outside of the top 10 on only one occasion so far this season. Team Pelfrey, who started the year as a four car squad, has been reduced to a single car effort for this weekend. TSO had a chance to ask Megennis about losing three teammates, and while he certainly understands not having four cars of data could hurt their efforts, he showed remarkable maturity by explaining that he thinks this is a great opportunity to learn how to get the most out of the car with no help.
What to watch for:
A fairly fresh sheet of paper for the 25 competitors.
While some of the teams have certainly been to Road America before, this will be the first visit for the majority of the drivers.
“With its long straightaways and variety of corners, Road America is a challenge for even experienced drivers, and with so little practice time, Ayla and Lucas (John Cummiskey Racing drivers) will be on a steep learning curve.” explained John Cummiskey Racing team owner Since the Cooper Tires USF2000 series hasn’t been here since 2012, it will be the same learning process for everyone, so a key to success will be how quickly they adapt.
Racing under pressure.
With the season hitting it’s halfway point between the two Road America races, the top-three in the USF2000 championship, while all sophomores, will start to feel the weight of a Mazda Motorsports Scholarship weighing on them.
It will be very interesting to watch how Thompson, Martin and Lloyd respond to the increased pressure for the first time.
The USF2000 teams and drivers did have two half-hour practice sessions at Road America on Thursday.
The fist session was shortened by a few minutes when Luke Gabin’s No. 92 had an engine issue that put fluid on the track. ArmsUp Motorsports’ Victor Franzoni led the session, but most drivers were only able to complete a maximum of seven laps.
The second session was interrupted by a red flag when Clint McMahan’s No. 20 RJB Motorsports machine had an issue in Kettle Bottoms. This time it was Pabst Racing’s Lloyd that led the way with Martin, Franzoni, Ayla Agren and Garth Rickards rounding out the top five.
Proving that the Mazda Road To Indy paddock is truly like a family and that the sportsmanship among competitors is terrific; Team Pelfrey gave one their spare Mazda 2.0 liter engines to JAY Motorsports, who were struggling to come up with a solution for the engine issues that Luke Gabin faced in the first session.
The combined time-sheet is as follows:
Remainder of the USF2000 schedule:
- Friday at 10:15 am – USF2000 qualifying
- Saturday at 8am – USF2000 race #1
- Saturday at 10:10am – autograph session
- Saturday at 1:10pm – USF2000 race #2
Don’t miss any of the action: