Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Star Mazda Headline Grand Prix of Portland

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted July 27, 2008 at 8:19 pm Star Mazda

The Star Mazda drivers were part of a very special weekend: The Mazda Grand Prix of Portland. You might be asking, “What makes this event so special?”. The answer to that question is many reasons, which we will hit on later, but the most important reason is that the Star Mazda Championship was the headline class of the weekend. Can this be real?… A junior formula headlining?

Well it is in fact real and their were two drivers who were able to take full advantage of the opportunity. The first being British pilot Tom Gladdis, by taking the victory in Round 4. This was an important win for Gladdis in that it was his first career win (not to mention he qualified on pole for both races this weekend). I would imagine that Gladdis was very pleased with the result after having a string of unfortunate events hindering his 2008 efforts. Tom was recently unable to compete at the Watkins Glen event due to his age. While several drivers were able to attain emancipation in time, Gladdis was forced to sit home as he was unable to be officially emancipated by his parents in time. The reason: his parents live in Great Britain. Fortunately, Star Mazda responded to the situation by allowing drivers to throw out one race event in their championship. This was great news for Tom, but it also put a lot of pressure on him to complete every race for the remainder of the season. As if sitting out at Watkins Glen weren’t enough, Gladdis was testing with Anderson Racing at Mosport shorly after the Watkins Glen event only to come down with food poisoning. Once again he was forced to sit out, he missed the second day of testing. Congrats to Tom for sticking with it and not giving up; job well done.

Round 4 Results

John Michael Edwards was the second driver to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland. Edwards was the quickest during the pre-event tests at Portland and took the victory in Round 5. He bounced back nicely after a tough DNF in Round 4, crossing the stripe 1st with Gladdis trailing about one second back. The former Red Bull backed driver has had his share of ups and downs this season, but has been remarkably quick in every outing. Because Edwards joined AIM for the second event of the season, he also used up his only throw-out.

Round 5 Results

Back to the reason this is such a special event. The Star Mazda drivers had the opportunity to watch some other motorsports series race that they don’t normally get a chance to see. Giving many of them a chance to catch up with old friends/former competitors from the karting ranks. The Jetta TDI Cup was running this weekend: Josh Hurley of Cooper City, Florida managed to take the victory, with Liam Kenney in chase to take the second spot. Stars of Karting standout David Jurca took the third and final spot on the podium, building his championship lead. The Mazda Mx-5 Cup drivers were also running at the event: former open wheel front runner Steve Welk brought home his entry in 10th place.

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