The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda announced the dates for it’s preseason Winterfest. Winterfest is a six-race series that allows teams to evaluate prospective drivers during competitive racing situations. It’s also a time for drivers to get back into form and knock off the rust from the off-season. As they did last year, the six races will be split between Sebring International Raceway and Palm Beach International Raceway with each venue holding three races each.
I always look forward to Winterfest. For me, it marks the beginning of the open-wheel racing season, and the end of the long dark off-season. While it likely won’t be broadcast on TV anywhere, I expect that USF2000 will continue its live timing and scoring along with its live chat. Audio might be iffy given the legendary lack of bandwidth available at Sebring.
USF2000 Confirms 2013 Cooper Tires Winterfest Dates
Third Annual Event Offers Six Races over Six Days
PALMETTO, Fla. – The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda today announced the schedule for its increasingly popular Cooper Tires Winterfest – a six-race mini-series offering drivers and teams a head start on their 2013 campaigns. Two premier Florida circuits will once again play host to the third annual pre-season championship which will take place in early February. The event drew 20 drivers representing 10 teams this year.
The first three races will be held on February 5/6 at Sebring International Raceway, as a prelude to the anticipated American Le Mans Series’ Winter Test. Two practice sessions, one qualifying round and three 30-minute races will be contested on the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course. This stage provides vital track time at the site of the season-opening rounds of the 2013 USF2000 Championship, which will host its first-ever tripleheader event at the circuit in support of the 61st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 16 – America’s oldest and most prestigious sports car endurance race.
From there the Winterfest championship will move south to Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) for an identical schedule on February 9/10. USF2000 made its debut at the 2.034-mile, 11-turn circuit during the 2012 Winterfest to accolades from its teams and drivers. The series will be offering track time to Star Mazda competitors at PBIR for pre-season testing during the event.
“We are extremely pleased to announce our third annual Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship, which has become a key program in our series,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “Our schedule of six races over six days gives drivers and teams a chance to develop their programs and further their new relationships in a competitive environment that is cost effective. It is the perfect lead up to the start of our season-long championship and, as a series, it allows us to dust off the cobwebs from the winter break. I personally really look forward to this event for a first glimpse of the new talent we have on board for another highly anticipated year of racing.”
Move-in dates for teams are February 4 at Sebring and February 8 at Palm Beach with the opportunity to remain in the Sebring paddock between race events.
This year’s Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship was dominated by Spencer Pigot of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing who won five of the six races. Teammate Trent Hindman finished second with newly crowned 2012 USF2000 champion Matthew Brabham third.
“This has been fantastic,” said Brabham at the conclusion of the 2012 Winterfest. “I had a lot of fun and got some really, really good experience before the actual start of the season, which is the most important thing – learning about the racing. I have never had that before in any series I’ve competed. It was a good little test to see where our cars are on race pace, and it was good for myself having never done rolling starts. I still need to work on those a little bit, but it was great getting the restarts with the safety car and just learning how drivers race over here. There were highs and a few lows as well which was not good at the time but definitely character building and I gained a bit of experience on how to get out of those situations and pass a lot of cars while starting from the back. I am pleased with how everything went.”
Brabham, who wrapped up the champion’s title in the USF2000 season finale at Virginia International Raceway, was awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the next level on the Mazda Road to Indy – the Star Mazda Championship – in 2013. He was also recently announced as a recipient of a prestigious Team USA Scholarship and is currently testing in England to prepare for his European debut in a pair of Formula Renault BARC UK Championship races on October 6/7.
The National Class Championship was won by Henrik Furuseth, also of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Furuseth was awarded a scholarship package to advance to the USF2000 Championship Class next year.
USF2000 will be announcing its full schedule of 2013 races and tests in the coming weeks.