|Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden|
Team USA Scholarship winners Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden commenced their overseas racing careers today on the famed Brands Hatch "Indy" circuit in England.
Both teenagers took to the tight but challenging 1.2-mile road circuit in a pair of Ray GRS06/7 Formula Ford cars under the tutelage of former racer-turned-team owner Cliff Dempsey, who was immediately impressed.
"I’m delighted with them. They’re a real credit to the Scholarship program," said Dempsey. "They’re great kids, really respectful, and clearly appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given.
"They’re not slow either," added Dempsey with a chuckle. "A good (lap) time around Brands is in the 50-second range, and both boys were down within reach of that straight away. I couldn’t be more pleased."
Daly, 16, from Noblesville, Ind., and Newgarden, 17, from Hendersonville, Tenn., arrived in England on Sunday and went directly to the Ray Race Cars factory in south London for seat-fittings and to oversee final preparation on their cars. They made the short trip to Brands Hatch, an hour or so from central London, yesterday and finally got a chance to drive their cars in a full-day test session today.
"Driving at Brands today has been a real privilege for Conor and I after hearing about this circuit’s diverse history," said Newgarden. "The weather forecast shows rain for tomorrow’s test, which should be challenging and provide good practice in case of rain during this weekend’s races. It has also been a real privilege working with Cliff Dempsey Racing and I feel we have a strong package for producing positive results.
"I’m really excited to get deeper into this week’s schedule and see how we match up against our competitors. It will be a tough challenge for Conor and I to master Brands in just few days, but I feel our experience coupled with our strong chemistry within the team will guide us in the right direction."
The duo completed well over 100 laps each during the course of today, with no significant difficulties other than a slightly weak engine in Daly’s car. Cliff Dempsey and the crew were working this evening to install a fresh engine in time for two more days of testing leading up to official qualifying on Friday.
"The most fun part of the day I think was taking Paddock Hill Bend for the first time at speed," said Daly. "It has such a steep descent which was incredible! But the best part is the rest of the track is almost just as much fun! The corners are very flowing and the track and track facilities are amazing as well.
"We learned a lot from today that will help us out throughout the weekend," concluded Daly. "I think the day was very successful."
The pair will contest this weekend’s Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch – an event which was won by Conor’s father, Derek, back in 1976 – and will continue their adventure with some more testing next week and visits to several top-quality racing organizations before contesting the Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford weekend at Silverstone on November 1/2.
The Team USA Scholarship is supported by Terminal Velocity Processing, Doug Mockett & Company, Aspin Foundations, Road Racing Drivers Club, Highcroft Racing, American Honda, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Dyson Racing, Metalore, The Gorsline Company, Integrated Performance Technology, Andersen Racing Team, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, A.J. Allmendinger, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards and Memo Gidley.