In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it was Canada that dominated ice hockey defeating the USA on both the men’s and women’s side (I’m still losing sleep over it), but in winter junior formula racing, it appears the Americans might have the upper hand over the rest of the world, at least in the annual Winterfest.
American RC Enerson claimed the 2014 USF2000 Winterfest title while fellow American Spencer Pigot earned the Pro Mazda title, after winning the USF2000 Winterfest in 2012. American drivers have claimed the championship since its inception in 2011. Zach Veach won the inaugural Winterfest. In 2012, it was Pigot who dominated winning five of the six races. Last winter, it was American Neil Alberico claiming all but one win. In fairness to my Canadian friends, Scott Hargrove, last year’s USF2000 Champion, did finish runner-up in the 2013 (USF2000) and the 2014 (ProMazda) Winterfest.
While Enerson, 16, of Port Richey, Fla., missed the first official test of the off-season at Barber Motorsports Park after breaking his foot, it was clear he was itching, not only under his cast, but, to get back in the car. On Dec. 4, he tweeted: “I need to get back in a racecar! Like now!” A week before Christmas, the cast was removed and Enerson was able to relieve that itch.
After starting from pole, driving for Team E, he went on to win the second race of the championship and later the finale, securing the championship in a down-to-the-wire fight with Englishman Michael Epps who also won two races giving the team title to Belardi Auto Racing.
“It was a great race today,” Enerson said, following his win in the finale. “I made a good start and just held my own. To win the championship is just amazing. I want to carry this with me into the season and, hopefully, use this momentum to good effect in St. Pete and try to go for the regular season championship. The team did a fantastic job to give me a great car. My coach, Jonatan Jorge, has been amazing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I want to thank him, my parents, the team and everyone who supports me.”
In Pro Mazda, it was Juncos Racing driver Spencer Pigot — also a Floridian — claiming the championship crown ahead of Hargrove, and fellow Canadian Garett Grist, who won at NOLA Motorsports Park.
“The Cooper Tires Winterfest has been great,” Pigot said in a post-race release. “I worked really well with the team and they did an awesome job all week. We won two races, were fastest every session on track and took every pole position so we can’t be disappointed with that. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going and keep the car up at the front in the main season.”
Indy Lights drivers were able to test at both NOLA and Barber Motorsports Park as part of the 2014 Winterfest, but didn’t race. It was Belardi Auto Racing’s Gabby Chaves narrowly setting the pace at NOLA with Andretti Autosport’s Matthew Brabham posting the quickest time at Barber. Both drivers were exceptionally quick and challenged each other at both venues.
The Mazda Road to Indy drivers open the regular season on March 29-30 on the street of St. Petersburg.