For the third straight year, the Mazda Road to Indy Driver Advancement Program – the alliance formed by Andersen Promotions, which operates all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, and the MAXSpeed Group, the sole distributor of Rotax Karting Products in the United States – continues to foster the growth of up-and-coming drivers and this year will award two two-day tests in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Today the program announces the 12 finalists who will now continue with the videoconference interview portion of the process.
"As in the past two years, we received a tremendous response to the Driver Advancement Program," explains MAXSpeed Group President Richard Boisclair. "It is never easy narrowing the applicants down to 12, as the talent that comes from our MAXSpeed Entertainment promoted events is immeasurable. We had one applicant who met all of the criteria, and whose talent is undeniable, yet we felt this might not be the year to potentially put them in a powerful USF2000 machine. This driver, Dylan Tavella, will be one of the 12 finalists in 2017."
Upon completion of an initial driver questionnaire, applicants were narrowed down to 12 based on selection criteria and eligibility. The selected drivers will now enter a final interview process with Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and Mazda Road to Indy graduates Charlie Kimball and Spencer Pigot as well as Andersen Promotions COO Michelle Kish and Boisclair.
The 12 finalists are: Michael d’Orlando, 14, of Hartsdale, New York; Zoey Edenholm, 15, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Luis Forteza, 16, of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Austin Garrison, 18, of Davie, Florida; Dev Gore, 19, of Atlanta, Georgia; Aidan Keel, 15, of Plant City, Florida; Ryan MacDermid, 15, of Whitby, Ontario; Ryan Norberg, 17, of Orlando, Florida; Enzo Prevost, 18, of Novato, California; Mathias Ramirez, 14, of Bradenton, Florida; Kellen Ritter, 15, of North Vancouver, British Columbia; and Matt Solarczyk, 17, of Centreville, Virginia.
Videoconference interviews will be scheduled for September 12-14, with the judges naming two winners who will be announced on September 19. The two drivers named to the 2016 Driver Advancement Program will be awarded two-day USF2000 tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on October 8-9 as part of the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test, which features all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy.
"It was very difficult narrowing the entrants down to our finalists and it will be even more so when we have to choose only two out of this talented group," said Kish. "I can see many of these young karters moving up the motorsports ranks and we are excited to give them their first experience in a race car."
"Thank you to all the drivers who submitted their questionnaire; I encourage anyone not selected this year to reapply for consideration next year. Also, congratulations to the 12 finalists selected for interviews," adds Boisclair.