Michael Scott, 21, from Te Puke, New Zealand, became the first of a projected 20 drivers from around the globe to earn an invitation to the inaugural end-of-season Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout. The winner of the shootout, which will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on December 6-7, will earn a $200,000 Mazda scholarship to compete in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Scott claimed his ticket to the shootout by clinching the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship in late April at Pukekohe Park Raceway following an intense, season-long battle with rival Aaron Marr.
“I am absolutely ecstatic to have the opportunity to attend the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Shootout,” said Scott, who has broadened his skills this year by competing also in the Toyota TR 86 sedan series in his native New Zealand. “It has been an incredibly busy summer of motorsport for me, racing both the Toyota 86 and the Formula Ford, and on three occasions I was racing them on the same weekend. To be able to finish off both of these series with a race win gives me a lot of confidence, which I hope I can bring with me going into the Shootout. Throughout the national Formula Ford series it has been an intense battle between Aaron Marr and me, with plenty of close but fair racing. I’m now seriously looking forward to the Shootout. I know there will be some incredibly good drivers I’ll be up against, but I believe this opportunity could really kick off my motorsport career at an international level.”
Countless talented New Zealanders have made an impact on global motorsport, including Bruce McLaren, F1 world champion Denny Hulme and four-time and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who began his North American career in Indy Lights in 1999.
“Establishing credible international pathways for our young aspiring drivers has been difficult,” said New Zealand Formula Ford coordinator Steve Edwards. “The Mazda Road to Indy has been a perfect opportunity to link in with USF2000 – a well-established series with significant history and relevance to single-seater racing. To add to this, Scott Dixon, a fellow Kiwi who came through our Formula Ford series, is the current IndyCar champ. New Zealanders know about Indy cars and this adds value to this relationship from a public perspective.”
USF2000 represents the first step on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, which provides a clearly defined path for drivers – with Mazda scholarship prizes at every level – to assist in the progression from karting and on through the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. As a measure of the program’s increasing global appeal, drivers representing 17 different nationalities will be competing next week at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as all three levels will be on hand in support of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
“We congratulate Michael Scott as the first driver to earn an entry into the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “We will have drivers from around the world in the competition and we’re excited that the worldwide reach and influence of the Mazda Road to Indy continues to grow.”
The latest news from series whose 2016 champions will receive a Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout entry ticket can be found at www.usf2000.com under the news tab. In addition to the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship, Official Feeder Series include Australian Formula Ford, BRSCC F1600 (England), Cubik Formula Ford Super Series (England), F1600 Formula F Championship (USA), F2000 Championship Series (USA), Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear (USA), Formula Panam (Mexico), Formula Tour 1600 (Canada), MMSC F1600 Indian Championship (India), Pacific F2000 (USA), ROTAX MAX Challenge (USA), SCCA Runoffs F1600 and FC (USA), Scottish Motor Racing Club Formula Ford 1600 Championship, Skip Barber Race Series (USA) and the Team USA Scholarship (USA).