Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Archive for the ‘ Interview ’ Category

After winning the Skip Barber Winter and Summer Series, Jake Eidson was awarded a USF2000 test with Belardi Auto Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (photo: IndyCar.com)

Jake Eidson may not be a well-known racer yet, but he will be.

The 17-year-old Colorado native is coming off an astounding year in Skip Barber competition in which he won both the Skip Barber Summer and Winter championships. Now, looking to make the move into USF2000, Eidson recently discussed his past season and his future racing goals with JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com.

Make the jump to read the full interview with Jake Eidson.

[Continue Reading…]


Interview: Jack Mitchell Jr.

Posted July 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm F1600 Series, Interview, Skip Barber Comments

Jack Mitchell Jr. winning his first F1600 race with Brian Graham Racing at Mosport. (photo: BGR)

JOWT: Jack, Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Junior Open Wheel Talent and its readers. How are you enjoying your 2012 season?

JM: Thank you for the opportunity and support.  I am a big fan of Junior Open Wheel Talent and appreciate the exposure that you provide to junior racers.

The 2012 season has been very exciting for me. I have been able to travel to many great cities in North America representing the United States in both series. This has exposed me to great places and people. I am having so much fun traveling with my family and crew, and I am also engaging with other international junior racers. I am very pleased with my escalating success and consistency as well.  This season has been a very beneficial and an enjoyable journey.

JOWT: You’ve recently been winning in both a Skip Barber formula car and the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship in Canada. What do you attribute to the recent success?

Jack Mitchell Jr. (Photo Art)

JM: It is very hard to pinpoint one specific thing for my results. I only started driving two years ago at the age of 14. I had the goal to work hard, listen, and never make the same mistake twice!  With the help of my management and coaching team of Exclusive Management , Kyle Marcelli, and my father I have been able to excel recently. I have learned that getting into the car is the last step of a very complicated process. My program has consisted of many off-track activities including: formal education on dynamics, psychology, exercise, pre-race review, and mental fitness. This process allows me to learn a new track quickly, and apply off track activities in a formal manner.  I have applied this technique to obtain 14 podiums that includes 4 wins in 14 races in the Skip Barber Race Series and 3 straight podiums with the first Honda powered win ever in the Toyo Tires Ontario Formula Ford Series. My success has come from the realization that consistency and safety is key to win a championship and I plan to continue to drive with this theme for the remainder of my career.

JOWT: What has been the biggest challenge for you this season?

JM: The biggest challenge for me was changing my whole mental game going into this season. In 2011 I had good results, but I made more mistakes because I had my mind focused on the 1st place trophy at the end of the weekend, rather than the more important 1st place championship trophy at the end of the year. When I matured enough to realize that I should focus on consistency and just driving the car, rather than the results, is when the success really started to come

JOWT: Can you describe the difference between your Skip Barber and F1600 car? How has Skip Barber helped prepare you for your move to F1600?

JM: The largest differences between the two cars is the off track adjustments and on track driving style. During F1600 weekends I go over data with my engineer and coach and make changes to the car depending on what we see. This fundamental understanding of how my driving and a car operate together has allowed me to become a better racer in any car that I drive.  On track, the F1600 is faster, has more grip, and needs to be driven significantly smoother than the Skip Barber car. The brakes are also much more efficient, and operated with your left foot instead of your right. Skip Barber has helped me prepare for F1600 by teaching me race craft and car control, which made the jump to a more advanced car much easier. Without Skip Barber none of my success in a F1600 car would be possible.

JOWT: What are your goals for the remainder of the year?

JM: My main goal is to win both the Skip Barber and Ontario Formula Ford championships. I’m currently 1st overall in the Skip Barber Series, and 2nd overall in Ontario Formula Ford. I believe winning the two championships is a realistic goal. Also, I think it would be great to finish the Skip Barber Series with all 20 of my races on the podium and I hope to secure the Road to Indy scholarship with Skip Barber at the 2012 shootout.

JOWT: Looking ahead, …Are you working toward a specific program for 2013? Have you done any testing outside of F1600 this summer?

JM: I plan to continue up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder by competing in the USF2000 series in 2013. I have driven some closed wheel cars and Formula 2000 cars as well with success. I will be testing for USF2000 later this year. I am also working on sponsorship and business relationships for the future.

JOWT: How would you describe your life outside of the car? Do you have a specific fitness routine you follow?

JM: I like to work out, play soccer, and spend time with my friends and family. Much of my life is spent studying for my classes during the school year, but during the summer I train using iRacing frequently and do a lot of charity work. I run to stay in shape, go to the local gym, and do quite a bit of neck and core strengthening exercises for when I get into more advanced cars!

JOWT: Aside from racing, what are your hobbies?

JM: I’m currently trying out for my high-school varsity soccer team, and getting into running. Also, a Formula 1 Xbox showdown happens between my Dad, brother and me every weekend. My Dad is still the household champion!

JOWT: Is there anyone you’d like the opportunity to thank?

JM: I’d like to thank Exclusive Management, my Dad, my brother, Kyle Marcelli, Brian Graham Racing, Bell Helmets, California Scents, SMXOptics, Skip Barber Racing School, Art Rotondo, Urban TriGear, WSWH, IAA, Veyron Marketing, Toyo Tires, Honda, Piper, The Mazda Road to Indy, and all the Skip Barber and Brian Graham Racing Mechanics, Margret Johnston, Joe Champagna, and everyone else who supports me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of them.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.


Q&A with Jonathan Summerton

Posted March 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm Interview, Live Blog Comments

I will be holding a Live Q&A session with Jonathan Summerton Monday night at 8PM EST.  Make sure to join us and ask questions.


Driver Profile: Gary Carlton

Posted November 27, 2009 at 3:30 am Driver Profile, Interview Comments



It was an early spring morning in 1995.  Gary Carlton and his father George were about to start a new venture.  The duo had been observing local go-kart races for a few weeks and decided it looked like a fun hobby.  That morning, in 1995, the Carltons set foot in the paddock as competitors—- not casual observers.  Little did they know, that day was a catalyst to a very bright future in the sport.  Gary is now regarded as one of the best shifter kart drivers in the world.

George Carlton purchased a used Emmick chassis for Gary, who was nine years old at the time, and signed his son up for the Cadet class.  The seed was planted.  Gary went on to win numerous races and regional championships prior to making the jump to the senior ranks aboard a 125cc shifter kart.

Gary Carlton and Alex Speed

A young Gary Carlton and Alex Speed

Unlike most seasonal karters, Gary would keep his kart out and race-ready during the winter months.  Well, the California winter months that is.  George required that Gary run endless laps in wet weather, a condition that is quite common during California winters.  Not that it was much of a requirement really… Gary loved driving and racing in the rain, perhaps even more so than the dry.  The winter testing seemed to really help his car control as he continued to win races in both wet and dry conditions.

Away from the traditional karting track, Gary could be found at a neighbor’s house driving a four-stroke kart around a dirt oval.  Later, he and his friends created a rally course and took turns driving a Subaru Outback around the homemade circuit, each trying to outdo the other.  All of this, as abstract as it might sound, helped mold Gary into the driver he is today.

When he turned 16, his karting talent began to really standout.  That season, competing in the SKUSA ProMoto Tour, Gary earned the National #9 plate—-synonymous with a ninth place national ranking of all North American shifter kart pilots.

Another life changing moment occurred for Gary in 2004 when Trackmagic’s Fausto Vitello brought him in as a Factory driver and worked with Gary to create the Trackmagic FTR chassis.

Gary remained with Trackmagic until the untimely death of Fausto in 2006, who was both a good friend and supporter of Gary.  Fausto passed away early in the 2006 season from a heart attack.  Gary was competing in the 2nd Round of the 2006 Stars of Karting ICC championship when he learned about Vitello’s death.  It was a heart wrenching experience for the 20-year-old driver but he managed to turn that weekend into one of his most memorable moments:

From GaryCarltonRacing.com

We had heard news of his passing late Saturday night before our race on Sunday. It was a huge blow to myself and our team. Fausto was way more to me than a boss. He had given me a chance to race when no other team would. He had taught me great lessons in life and was a great friend. Racing for his team was much more than any other team. We had to develop our own chassis from scratch being an American manufacturer while all the other teams would just import all the European chassis over and race.

It was my long time friend and my current mechanic Diego Valverde, new team driver Andrew Alfonso, his girlfriend Kristin and myself at this race. We were running a small one kart team out of a 20 foot trailer with an EZ-Up. We were the underdogs but we knew we stood a good chance of winning. Come the day after Fausto’s death we arrived at the track with only one option. We had to win. That day was one of the toughest in my life. We were perfect as a team the whole day and we took home the victory. This is my most memorable moment in life.

Gary Carlton

Gary Carlton at the SKUSA SuperNats XIII

That same season, 2006, Carlton went on to win the SKUSA SuperNationals SuperPro division as well as the 2006 Stars of Karting ICC Championship.  He followed up his 2006 Stars of Karting National Championship with a repeat win in 2007, solidifying himself as the number one shifter kart driver in North America.

Since that time, Gary has been competing in both Europe and North America.  He remains one of the top shifter kart drivers in the world.  Unlike most karters, he is perfectly fine with being a career karter.  He has sampled cars here and there, but his real focus has been and remains karting.

Read the interview after the jump. [Continue Reading…]


Driver Profile: J.R. Hildebrand

Posted September 29, 2009 at 1:47 pm Driver Profile, Interview Comments

J.R. Hildebrand

(photo: IndyCar.com)

In 2002, when a 14-year-old J.R. Hildebrand sat in a go-kart for his first racing experience he had no idea that he would be on the verge of an Indy Car ride just eight years later.

Hildebrand had a relatively late start in karting and motorsports, but he managed to impress those around him during his journey to the upper echelons of the sport and took advantage of the opportunities given to him.

Since that early morning in 2002, when he entered his first race, he has gone on to win 3 junior formula championships (Formula Russell, F2000, and Indy Lights).

The now 21-year-old J.R. Hildebrand is your 2009 Indy Lights champion and appears poised to make the jump to the prestigious Indy Car series in 2010.

This season alone, with the season finale yet to come, Hildebrand has won 4 races, earned 5 pole positions, and stood on the podium 9 times.  He has finished inside the top-ten in 78.6% of his 2009 Indy Lights starts.

He recently sat down to do an interview with Junior Open Wheel Talent.  Make the jump to read the entire interview…. [Continue Reading…]


Driver Profile: James Kovacic

Posted August 9, 2009 at 10:31 pm Driver Profile, Interview Comments

Every athlete, regardless of their idiosyncrasy, has a defining moment in life that draws them to their sport. A spark, if you will, that says, “I want to do this, I’m good at this.”. That moment came for Australian race driver James Kovacic at a very young age. [Continue Reading…]


Driver Profile: Peter Dempsey

Posted July 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm Driver Profile, Interview Comments

(photo: Phil Burridge)

Peter Dempsey was born on March 31, 1986 in Dublin, Ireland. Racing was in his blood long before he decided to pursue a career in motorsports. [Continue Reading…]


Driver Profile: Anders Krohn

Posted June 19, 2008 at 12:28 am Driver Profile, Interview Comments

Until about three months ago, very few in the US junior formula world knew the name Anders Krohn. Since that time, the Norwegian driver has made a name for himself in a big way.  [Continue Reading…]
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