Team USA Scholarship Winners Begin On-Track Preparations in England

The last few weeks have seemed like a blur for 2013 Team USA Scholarship winners Joey Bickers and Jake Eidson. After emerging through an interview process in August at Mid-Ohio and a final selection shootout last month at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla., Bickers and Eidson attended a two-day session at CXC Simulations in Los Angeles before traveling to England last week to continue preparations for their assault on this weekend’s Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the following week’s Walter Hayes Trophy (named after the founding father of Formula Ford) at Silverstone.

The talented Americans gained their first taste of Cliff Dempsey Racing’s pair of Ray FF1600 cars on Thursday with a shakedown test at Donington Park and another outing the following day at Silverstone National. Testing will continue this week at Brands Hatch.

“The testing so far has gone extremely well," said veteran team owner and former driver Cliff Dempsey. “I couldn’t be happier with Joey and Jake. Our first day was at Donington to sort out any problems with the cars or the drivers. We had a few minor issues but the next day at Silverstone was extremely productive. The boys logged time in both the wet and the dry and Jake set an amazing time on old tires. Joey struggled a little bit in the dry but we think we know why. Overall, we are very, very happy but of course there are no prizes for testing. We’ll see how we go at Brands Hatch."

“I'm extremely grateful to be able to get seat time in the Ray F1600 car before the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy," declared Eidson, 18, from Littleton, Colo., a three-time Skip Barber Racing Series champion and winner of this year’s F1600 Championship Series with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. “After the two testing days at Donington and Silverstone, I feel much more comfortable and confident in the car. I’m looking forward to Brands Hatch and getting a great result for Team USA Scholarship."

In addition to the pair of tests, Bickers and Eidson on Monday enjoyed an educational tour of Ilmor Engineering, which among other projects develops and manufactures the twin-turbo V-6 Chevrolet engine which last weekend clinched the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Manufacturers’ Championship at Auto Club Speedway in California.

“Jake and I gained an insight into how each department in the factory is run," said Bickers, 21, from Moorpark, Calif., who recently won the West Coast Teen Mazda Challenge and finished second in the Pacific F1600 Series. “It was interesting to see how they cover the entire process, from designing the parts to testing them on the dyno. We were able to take a close look at the attention to detail put into the complexities of each part of the process. I was extremely impressed by all the high-tech machinery used in each department and very grateful for the opportunity."

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