Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Thursday Morning Reading

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted October 15, 2009 at 10:55 am open wheel racing news

Jeff Pappone of The Globe and Mail wrote an interesting piece about today’s junior formula ladder system and the costs associated with losing the Formula BMW-Americas series.  The story is entitled, “Young drivers must look for a new path to the big leagues“.

The piece contains quotes from Indy Lights competitor James Hinchcliffe and Sports Car driver Ron Fellows.  There seems to be a hint or two at the development of the new IRL sanctioned F2000 Pro Series.  Or, at least, the push for it.

A few notable quotes:

Per James Hinchcliffe

“But the options are out there for those who want to stay in North America. The Formula 2000 Zetec championship fell to the wayside a little bit when FBMW came up because the car was more advanced, a manufacturer was involved, and they had the lure of F1. Now, it should see a revival.”

Per Ron Fellows

With FBMW gone, Fellows thinks North America’s top single-seater series, IndyCar, would be well advised to start emulating the NASCAR model where it helps young drivers earlier in their career.

“I don’t mean to beat on the sanctioning bodies, but if you look at what NASCAR has done through development series, that’s what the single-seater guys need to do. They need to have a stronger hand in the lower formulas,” Fellows said.

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2 Comments

  1. Ron Boltik on October 15, 2009 7:32 pm

    As an owner of an F2000 team, call me biased, as I will call the author biased. Admittedly, I know little about the FBMW USA series, but I do know that some budgets were Star Mazda sized to go Formula Ford fast. The model was intriguing, and having a manufacturer behind the program was nice, but a prospective driver could spend $150K for F2000, hire a personal coach and trainer for $20K, Set up a cool website for <$5K, hire a PR firm for $10K and still save about $100K over FBMW. And the names who've gone through 2 liter racing in the world range from Ayrton Senna and Tommy Byrne to Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish. Is 2-liter racing the same now as it was in the 90's? Not yet. Is the car safe? Makes you wonder how anyone survived oval racing in the 90's in tube framed cars. The wreck at the runoffs this year in FC was worse than 95% of those in USF2000 or the Hooters Series.

    Ron Fellows is right – Open Wheel racing in the states (and in general) needs a solid ladder that leads to a solid roof – and could learn from NASCAR. It makes one wish some principals in this country could bury the hatchet and provide focus for this rung on the ladder. Are you listening?

    Special thanks to all who do what they can to promote junior open wheel racing in the states – JOWT, EFCN, Apexspeed and Deep Throttle. Shame on the Wind Tunnel's and Robin Miller's of the world who barely recognize it.

    Ron Boltik
    ZSports Midwest, LLC
    http://www.zsportsmidwest.com

  2. Stan McClary on October 16, 2009 7:10 pm

    “I don’t mean to beat on the sanctioning bodies, but if you look at what NASCAR has done through development series, that’s what the single-seater guys need to do. They need to have a stronger hand in the lower formulas,”

    Please spare me that crap. Champ Car with Mazda’s help had the Rotax Series, then Skip Barber, then Star Mazda, then Atlantics, then Champ Car. You win one, you are in the next. How incredible is that? Mazda is the best name in grassroots motorsports and the top Mazda and Mazdaspeed guys are phenomenal at the trackside. You get a sense that even if/though Mazda is losing money in motorsports advertising, they still feel that it is strong enough to Mazda company to support the grassroots and motorsports.

    And the people to fix open wheel may not want to dirty their hands and the people who are in the position may be the worst for the job.

    Something drastic is going to have to happen. Maybe Mazda needs to step up and complete it to professional open wheel? They already are such a strong promoter to open wheel, what better time than now to help.

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