Young talent hopes to impress at Chris Griffis Memorial test
Jake Eidson has made a rapid rise of the racing ladder in the last few years - ascending from beginning karter to Skip Barber Racing Series champion in just five seasons.
On Oct. 10-11, the 17-year-old from Littleton, Colo., will take the biggest step of his young career when he tests a Cooper Tires USF2000 National Championship car at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of his reward for winning the Skip Barber Winter Series and clinching the Skip Barber Summer Series at Lime Rock on Oct. 6.
"Just being (at Indianapolis) will be a huge honor," Eidson said. "To drive a race car there, not many 17 years olds get to do that. I'm very thankful for the opportunity, but I'm more excited than anything else. I'm absolutely looking forward to it."
For Eidson, who attended the Indianapolis 500 as a boy and again in May, the test is the first step in his goal of joining the Mazda Road to Indy and fulfilling a dream of being a professional racing driver.
"My goal is to climb the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and become an Indy car driver," he said. "It's nice that we're able to have a path straight to Indy. Most countries don't have that. It's nice to have that and have a chance to get a scholarship to make the dream possible."
Eidson is one of six drivers awarded test days at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy's partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School in the U.S., and international series such as the British Formula Ford Championship, Mexico's LATAM Challenge Series and the Quebec and Ontario F1600 Championship in Canada.
"We are excited to see the results of our new partnerships with British Formula Ford, LATAM Challenge Series, Canadian F1600 and Skip Barber at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Jason Penix, director of grassroots initiatives at INDYCAR. "These partnerships bring some of the world's top young talent into the Mazda Road to Indy system, complementing very strong USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights fields for this test."
Finland's Antti Buri, the champion of the British Formula Ford championship, will join Eidson and Canadian F1600 champions Nathan Blok (Quebec) and Michael Adams (Ontario) in the USF2000 portion of the two-day test. Three of the top four drivers in the LATAM Challenge Series -- points leader Francisco Cerullo, Andre Sulano and Jose Carlos-Sandoval - are also scheduled to participate in the Star Mazda Championship portion of the test. Burri is also scheduled to drive a Star Mazda car.
The Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test - dedicated to the memory Chris Griffis, Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights team manager - brings together the three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder system, including the Star Mazda Championship Powered by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights.
Hosted by INDYCAR, the outing not only offers all three series a jump-start on the 2013 season but also showcases the ladder system to prospective teams and drivers.
"We are looking forward to the test, as we have seen sizable increases in the USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights entries over last year," Penix said. "Altogether, we've seen nearly a 75 percent increase, which shows the momentum and interest around the Mazda Road to Indy program."