The first two steps on the Mazda Road to Indy now have a new driver coach, Joel Miller. Joel has been involved open-wheel racing since 2004 when he moved from karts to the Pacific F2000 series. In 2008 and 2009, Joel raced with JDC Motorsports in Star Mazda, finishing in 2nd and 5th in the championship, respectively. He moved up to drive part-time in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2010 for Andersen Racing and in 2011 for Team E Racing. Needless to say, he knows the cars the young drivers in USF2000 and ProMazda will be driving, the challenges they will face, and the mistakes they’re likely to make. It’s good to see Andersen Promotions interested in doing more than simply sanction races. This moves shows that Andersen is genuinely interested in helping the young drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy Program develop and hone their racecraft, preparing them to be better racers as they move toward their goal of racing at Indianapolis.
Press Release from Andersen Promotions
PALMETTO, FLA. – Talented Californian racer Joel Miller will add a new role for the 2013 season when he serves as driver coach for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Miller will take over the duties from fellow former Skip Barber National Series champion Gerardo Bonilla who had filled that position in USF2000 since the series was resurrected in 2010 and has opted to focus on private coaching for the immediate future.
“There is no doubt Joel will be a valuable addition to our team and a great resource for our drivers,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the promoter for both series. “He brings a tremendous amount of experience including multiple race wins in a variety of formula cars. He drove for Andersen Racing a few years ago and I was immediately impressed with not only his talent but his attitude. He is one of the hardest working drivers I know.”
Miller, 24, from Hesperia, Calif., holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California-Riverside and has amassed an impressive resume during the past 15 years. In common with so many of the sport’s top drivers, Miller began his career in karting and quickly became acknowledged as one of the top protagonists in the world. He rose to become a factory driver for the Italian-owned Tony Kart team whose alumni also include seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher.
Miller attempted to make the transition to cars at the tender age of 15, scoring a sensational debut victory in a Pacific F2000 race at Auto Club Speedway in 2004, but funding issues soon led to a return to the karting ranks where he continued to impress and rack up the victories. After winning the hotly contested 2006 ICA North American championship, Miller returned to cars in 2007. He won the Skip Barber National Series emphatically, earning five race wins, a place on the MAZDASPEED Driver Development program which ensured his graduation to Star Mazda in 2008, and a Team USA Scholarship prize which enabled him to contest the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in England.
Securing the financial resources to further his career continued to prove difficult, despite finishing a fine second in his debut Star Mazda campaign, so Miller instead concentrated on his education. Now, with a degree in hand and a broad resume that has included starts in Firestone Indy Lights and the GRAND-AM Continental Cup Series in recent years, Miller continues to ply his trade in the sports car ranks.
He most recently was part of Mazda Motorsport’s program in the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona, joining fellow Mazda Road to Indy and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Ladder drivers Tristan Nunez, Spencer Pigot and Tristan Vautier aboard a all-new SKYACTIV-D clean diesel-powered Mazda6 – the first-ever diesel to compete in the Rolex 24 or at a GRAND-AM race.
At the same time he has returned to his roots by becoming an instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School and is excited about his new opportunity to work with other potential stars of the future in two of North America’s fastest growing open-wheel development series.
“Coaching the drivers this year in Pro Mazda and USF2000 is going to be an interesting as well as fun project,” said Miller. “When Dan Andersen approached me with the idea, I was immediately interested. He runs a top notch program and I am happy to be involved with both series. The goal will be to better prepare each driver for not only on-track performance but help in their progression up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. In conjunction with my own on-track program in GRAND-AM it will be a busy year!”
Miller’s first tour of duty will take place at the Circuit of the Americas for the season-opening pair of Pro Mazda races on March 1/2 in support of GRAND-AM. The 2013 USF2000 schedule will open at Sebring International Raceway on March 14/15 in support of the American Le Mans Series.
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Star Mazda Championship. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000. Additional information can be found atwww.usf2000.com.
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will debut in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Firestone Indy Lights competition the following year. For more information, visit www.promazdachampionship.com.
About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. The company also has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. Additional information can be found at www.us.coopertire.com.