33 Mazda Powered Open Wheel Racers Compete in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix - NATIONAL CHAMPIONS CROWNED
Double Header Event Ran Alongside the IZOD IndyCar Series in Sonoma
August 26, 2012
Race fans were once again treated to the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear during the Indy® Grand Prix of Sonoma Aug. 24-26. This event marked the third time the Formula Car Challenge (FCC) has been be paired with the IZOD IndyCar® Series in the Sonoma Valley. The FCC hosted two main events during the action-packed race weekend, and three FCC National Champions were crowned at the end of the weekend.
The FCC features three separate classes of racing, and the pole winners for Saturday's race were Lloyd Read in Pro FM, Bill Weaver in FM, and Michael Whelden in FS2.0. All 33 cars had a clean start, but there were two full course yellows later in the race. Read was able to hold off Kaiser and O'Neill at the first restart, and the second full course yellow was so close to the end that the race ended under yellow. At the checkered flag the race winners were Lloyd Read in Pro FM, Bill Weaver in FM, and Michael Whelden in FS2.0.
SATURDAY AUGUST 25th PODIUMS
Pro Formula Mazda:
- 1st Lloyd Read
- 2nd Kyle Kaiser
- 3rd Patrick O'Neill
- 1st Bill Weaver
- 2nd Jamie Slone
- 3rd TJ Fisher
- 1st Michael Whelden
- 2nd Ken Rodrigues II
- 3rd Kerstin Smutny
The grid for Sunday's race was based on fastest lap times from Saturday's race. This put Kyle Kaiser on pole in Pro FM, Mike Anderson in FM, and Michael Whelden in FS2.0. The start was clean, but a lap into the race a Formula Mazda and FS2.0 tangled at the top of turn 2 creating a long clean up while the race clock continued to click. The FCC races are usually 30 minute sprint races, but this one became a nine lap dash to the checkers. Patrick O'Neill charged through at the restart and held on for the overall and Pro FM win. Mike Anderson won in FM, and Michael Whelden won in the FS2.0 class.
SUNDAY AUGUST 26th PODIUMS
Pro Formula Mazda:
- 1st Patrick O'Neill
- 2nd Andre Eriksen
- 3rd Dave House
- 1st Mike Anderson
- 2nd Dutch Shultz
- 3rd Jamie Slone
- 1st Michael Whelden
- 2nd Kerstin Smutny
- 3rd Ken Rodrigues II
The FCC West Coast Region, which is in its eight season, features a 14-race schedule. Ten of the races will take place in Sonoma on a variety of the track's configurations. A large percentage of drivers are local California enthusiasts, but the series has also been a breeding ground for the up-and-coming professional racers. The West Coast Region drivers will be back to Sonoma on the long course on October 27th -28th.
The GoPro FCC presented by Goodyear National Championships
Bill Weaver won in FM, Michael Whelden in FS2.0, and Patrick O'Neill took the championship in Pro FM
August 26, 2012
This weekend's event was also scored as the Formula Car Challenge National Championship event. The National Championships were decided based on the sum of points from both races, as well as a point for the fast qualifier and a point for fast race lap in each class. This was the first time that the National Championships were decided in Sonoma.
2012 GoPro FCC presented by Goodyear National Champions
The FCC National Championship class winners are now qualified for a Mazda factory supported ride in the 2013 SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup valued at over $75,000. Three FCC champions, and a handful of SCCA and NASA Club racing champions will now present themselves to a team of judges who will whittle the already small group into a more focused collection of candidates.
- Pro FM - Patrick O'Neill
- Formula Mazda - Bill Weaver
- FS2.0 - Michael Whelden
Given that each of the finalists will have already proven themselves on the track by winning a championship, the criteria to move up will be more encompassing. To succeed on the professional level requires a balance of both on-track and off-track skills. After a full day of both driving, and classroom activities, the judges add the objective and subjective scores and discuss the merits of each driver and select a winner to become a Mazda factory supported driver for 2013.
Mazdaspeed also provided $14,000 in cash prize awards for this event. "Our series and drivers really appreciate that Mazda recognizes the FCC presented by Goodyear as being worthy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder program, stated Series Official Ben Hettema. "The Formula Car Challenge was designed to develop future champions and we have already seen some of our alumni move into the highest ranks in professional motorsport."
The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of up-and-coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, Michael Cooper, Trent Hindman, Danilo Estrella, Adam Christodoulou, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, Felix Serralles, Tristan Vautier, Petri Suvanto, and Scott Anderson. Last season Elliot Skeer was the Mazda Shootout winner. When told that he had won the shootout, a prize valued at $75,000, the richest in all of club racing Skeer noted, "Without this shootout and the MAZDASPEED ladder, the path to the top looks like a giant maze. This just changed my life and is helping me realize that it is possible to make my dream a reality and become a professional driver."
About The Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear:
The Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear is a regionalized open wheel racing series with an annual national championship. There are multiple regions across the country, and each region has unique features and events.
Once a year the regions meet for the FCC National Championships. The championship features a multi-class format -Formula Mazda (FM), Pro Formula Mazda (PFM), and the FormulaSPEED2.0 (FS2.0). All classes are powered by Mazda, and equipped with Goodyear Racing tires.
Each region is supported by a Region Promoter who is well versed in racing, and who can provide assistance to teams and independent drivers.
The series is partnered with Goodyear, Mazda USA, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, Red Line Oil, GoPro, and NASA Pro Racing.