Editor’s Note: AcceleRace Motorsports Team Managing Director, Ardie Greenamyer, has been kind enough to offer coverage and commentary of the USF2000 Scouting Combine taking place down at Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, FL. In addition to daily summary reports from the combine, he will also be sharing with us interviews with the young aspiring drivers, their parents, and league officials. We appreciate AcceleRace Motorsports’ willingness to partner with us to bring you this exclusive coverage, and we certainly hope that you enjoy Mr. Greenamyer’s insights as much as we do.
The 2012 Mazda Road-to-Indy Scouting Combine started on-schedule today with a fantastic program created for the ten karting champions chosen by INDYCAR …. until the rain interrupted this afternoon’s testing session . All Drivers were fitted to the cars on Sunday and surprisingly everyone is “near-normal” size, which made the seat-fitting MUCH easier! Many drivers commented about the differences between their karting rides & the USF2000 race car, and most readily admitted that “the Driver really wears the car unlike the driving position in karting.”
Morning began with a Track Walk with Anders Krohn, former F2000 Champion, and Star Mazda and Indy Lights driver, explaining the lines and details of the Andersen track in Palmetto, Florida. Everyone was at full attention, listening to Anders’ comments, and there were a few very direct questions asked after the short tour of the track. It was obvious from the beginning that these drivers were serious about the testing opportunity and wanted to be at the peak of their performance.
The drivers were grouped into three’s for the practice sessions, and were given basic details about the nuances of the sophisticated USF2000 race car. Most new drivers have considerable difficulty in the early adjustment to the clutch system and the tall gearing with these cars (typically 1st gear at engine idle is 45mph). Today, however, it was great to see the entire group do exceptionally well with barely a few stalls on pit lane. Everyone quickly advanced with their comfort in the race car while parents, series officials, and INDYCAR staff watched from the berms that surround the track. The track is perfectly proportioned to watch (and listen) to the drivers from one vantage point. This makes the evaluation process much easier when juggling multiple drivers in and out of the cars, debriefing with engineers and coaches, watching every corner on the track, while keeping a mindful eye on the stopwatch. The only spin of the day came as the downpour of rain started while that driver was on a hot lap and was almost finished with his session (no damage).
The drivers experienced media training and an interview/critique session from the judging staff, and an excellent introduction to data acquisition from the main workshop while waiting for the weatherman to find a better forecast for racing. We made the most of the rain delay which gave us an extended opportunity to conduct video interviews with all the drivers, some parents, and the officials during the afternoon. We predict that anyone (especially the parents/sponsors) interested in a career in open-wheel racing, and intending to pursue the Mazda Road-to-Indy, will find these comments very enlightening! These interviews should be processed soon, and posted to a future podcast on OpenPaddock.
Action resumes on Tuesday morning when the forecast promises better conditions. All drivers will finish their practice sessions that were cancelled for Monday, and then the Driving Competition will begin. The final Awards will be on Wednesday, and we will have updates at the conclusion of each day on OpenPaddock.
Team Managing Director (TMD)
Driver Recruitment Officer (DRO)