Australian Hunter McElrea wins Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout

Hunter McElrea was the driver to rise above the rest at the Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout, taking the victory and with it a $200,000 prize to see him onto the 2019 USF2000 grid. It was a very closely fought competition between first the nineteen assembled drivers and then the six finalists, but McElrea just about edged out all the other drivers.

Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

After Saturday’s two sessions, each of the nineteen drivers was given feedback from the judges on their runs before they had one more session to impress on Sunday morning. With the first round done, the eighteen remaining drivers (one had travel issues and one dropped out after Saturday) were called to the pit straight to learn their fate in the shootout. The judges praised all of them for their ability to adapt to the unfamiliar Formula Mazda car and said that the decision to pick out six had been a very tough one.

The six finalists who progressed were:
Braden Eves (USA)
Jake Craig (USA)
Ross Martin (GBR)
Hunter McElrea (AUS)
Michael Eastwell (GBR)
Flinn Lazier (USA)

Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

These six then had to do two qualifying sessions before a mock race and then a nervous wait to find out who the judges had selected with the winner announced at 4 pm local time – over an hour after the race had finished. It was another tough decision for the judges who had to consider both on-track and off-track performances from the finalists, but ultimately it was McElrea who won it.

US-born but Australian raised, McElrea will return to racing in the US after spending all his single-seater career to date in Australia. His ticket to the shootout was gained by winning the Australian Formula Ford Series, a championship which he won by a margin of fifteen points over his closest rival. He took thirteen wins in the season as well as sixteen podiums and three pole positions, making him a more than worthy champion and now the winner of the shootout.

There are still plenty of opportunities for the rest of the shootout drivers to make it onto the Road to Indy, one of which is next year’s shootout. The full entry lists for USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights are due to be published in the coming weeks with all the series kicking off at St Petersburg in March 2019.

Featured Image: Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Road to Indy scholarship shootout begins in Arizona

This weekend, twenty young drivers from across the world will fight it out for a $200,000 scholarship which will see them onto the 2019 USF2000 grid. The youngest contestant, Colin Mullan, is just sixteen years old with the other drivers ranging from seventeen to twenty-five. The event is taking place at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with the track action spanning over today and tomorrow on the 1.6-mile circuit.

The scholarship competition has been running since 2016 and this year there were twenty-five eligible feeder series with around four hundred drivers in contention for a place in the shootout.

The weekend kicked off out of the cars with a welcome gala last night where all the drivers could get acquainted with their fellow competitors and the judges.

Drivers will be in Formula Mazda cars, taking part in three sessions across the weekend – two on Saturday and one on Sunday morning. After the Sunday session, judges will cut the field down and the remaining drivers will take part in two qualifying rounds, setting up for a mock race at the end of the day. From this, the winner of the scholarship will be announced at around 4:00 pm local time (11 pm GMT).

The judging panel is a talented list of representatives from both Mazda and the Road to Indy programme. Mazda has sent long-serving factory representatives Andrew Carbonell and Tom Long and from the Road to Indy we’ve got Indy Lights race winner Tom Long, last year’s Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni and the very first shootout winner, Oliver Askew, who won the USF2000 championship the following year.

Coverage of the event will be provided by Road to Indy TV (http://roadtoindy.tv/) and it’ll certainly be something to check out if you get the chance.

The twenty hopeful drivers’ names, ages and nationalities are listed below:

Guillaume Archambault, 24, Canada

Dario Cangialosi, 18, USA

Bryce Cornet, 25, USA

Jake Craig, 21, USA

Allan Croce, 21, Brazil

Courtney Crone, 17, USA

Michael Eastwell, 22, UK (England)

Braden Eves, 19, USA

Flinn Lazier, 19, USA

Ross Martin, 19, UK (Scotland)

Hunter McElrea, 19, Australia

Matt Round-Garrido, 18, UK (England)

Colin Mullan, 16, USA

Tyler O’Connor, 21, USA

Ryan Norberg, 20, USA

Raghul Rangasamy, 25, India

Jason Reichert, 19, USA

Kellen Ritter, 17, Canada

James Roe Jr, 20, Ireland

Stuart White, 17, South Africa

 

Featured Image: Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography