Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

2008 Star Mazda Champion: John Michael Edwards

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted October 19, 2008 at 11:03 am Star Mazda

AIM Autosport is extremely pleased with their late entry into the Star Mazda Championship with 17 year old John Edwards. Edwards missed the first round of the championship held at Sebring International Raceway. He didn’t let a late start hamper his efforts though, he took the pole position and victory at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City’s round 2. Edwards continued his winning ways, by claiming four(official) victories in 2008. Richard Kent technically won Saturday’s race at Laguna Seca but was not entered in the points championship, so Edwards was credited with the win (marking his 5th). He also qualified on pole, four times this season on his way to the 2008 title.

John has quite an extensive resume, which all began in karting. In 2003, he won the Great Lakes Sprint Series Junior Briggs Championship. The Junior Briggs class, with relatively low horsepower, helped the youngster develop smoothness and taught him to keep up his mid corner momentum….which later translated quite nicely to his car efforts. Later that year, Edwards became the youngest driver to hold an open wheel license in the United States. As if that wasn’t enough, John went on to win a Skip Barber Formula Dodge race in the first part of 2004. The victory was a historic moment as the former karting champion became the youngest open wheel race winner. John followed up that win with another victory in pouring rain the very next day, proving his skill exceeded the experience of the other pilots in the field. He won by a 25 second margin, over Atle Gulbrandsen, 25, from Norway.

That weekend in January 2004 would change John Michael Edwards’ life. He was now a racing prospect at all levels across the globe. Red Bull chose Edwards to be the next American F1 driver awarding him with the prestigious Red Bull Driver Search scholarship. Since that time John has lived in six different cities and three countries. He moved to Europe late in 2004, where Red Bull decided to put him back in a go kart for further development. In 2005, John was placed in a Formula Renault 2.0 car, running 23 races in the Formula Renault 2.0 Germany and Eurocup series. He continued his FR development in 2006, running in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and Eurocup series, running 27 races. He only managed one victory in those two seasons, but proved to be very quick. In 2007, he made his way back to the United States running 12 races in the Atlantic Championship with Forsythe Racing, finishing on the podium in one race.

By this time John was running out of funding and needed to take a close look at his future in open wheel racing. He made a tough decision in 2008, one that no aspiring race driver wants to make; he decided to take a step backwards in the motorsports ladder in order to continue his efforts and stay sharp. That decision turned out to be one of the best of his career. Edwards won the 2008 Star Mazda title yesterday, by finishing second in the series finale held at Laguna Seca raceway. The title holder in the 2008 Star Mazda championship will be awarded a fully funded ride in the Atlantic Championship for 2009. The award is made possible by the MazdaSPEED Development Ladder. John will begin testing with several teams in the coming weeks, before making a final commitment for 2009.

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One Comment

  1. TrnNFlt on November 2, 2008 8:01 am

    Very nice summary, accurate, and well written… John’s test with Mathiasen went quite well. He worked effectively with Alain and the team going 57.0 at Putnam Park (in quite cool weather). He is evaluating other options as well. The prize money for Atlantics is yet to be announced and once all the facts are known the choice of team should move quickly.

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