Six talented young American pilots will gather this week at the new facilities at the Polecat Training Center in Lynchburg, Tennessee, as part of an ongoing process to select two recipients of the Team USA scholarship for 2021.
After two days of assessments, which will include driving the technical 2.1 mile course aboard the proven Polecat Racing Academy 2.0-liter formula cars, as well as a fitness assessment with the expert Industry Jim Leo, President of Indianapolis, Ind. – Based on PitFit Training, a pair of winners will compete in the 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England, October 30-31, and the following weekend, the equally prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone, held in honor of the founding father of Formula Ford.
The finalists were chosen from a pool of 12 nominees, each of whom was invited to submit a variety of assignments to be assessed by a panel of 20 motor racing insiders representing virtually every aspect of the sport.
The six finalists are:
• Jason Alder, 18, Cooksville, Md. – competing in the Honda-powered F4 US Championship
• Andre Castro, 22, New York, NY – partial season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship
• Nicholas d’Orlando, 18, Hartsdale, NY – leads the FRP F1600 Championship Series
• Max Esterson, 18, of New York, NY – second at the British Formula Ford BRSCC Avon Tires Championship
• Ayrton Houk, 18, McCordsville, Indiana – leads the Mel Kenyon Midget series and races in SCCA FF / F1600
• Bryson Morris, 16, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn. – leads the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series
Matt Christensen, 16, from Orlando, Fla., Arias Deukmedjian, 16, from Merritt Island, Fla., Ax Kametches, 20, from Atlanta, Ga., Jonathan Lee, 20, from Miami, Fla., Colin Queen, 16, from Coto de Caza, Calif., And Thomas Schrage, 16, from Bethel, Ohio, were also part of the initial selection process.
“At Polecat Training Center, we are delighted that the Team USA Fellowship has chosen the PTC Driving Academy to host this prestigious talent search,” said Keith Watts, owner of Polecat Racing Academy. “I am honored to contribute to budding young racing drivers through this program, and track owner Paul Arnold is thrilled to help advance the careers of these young drivers. “
The final decision will be made by a panel of judges which will include former Team USA scholarship winners Josef Newgarden, Andy Lally and Aaron Jeansonne, as well as Kelly Jones, owner of RaceCraft1 Simulator Training, Honda / Acura PR representative Dan Layton, author and Steve Nickless, editor of RACER Marketing and Media, and Jeremy Shaw, founder of Team USA Scholarship.
“I look forward to meeting this year’s nominees and am honored to play a small role in the 2021 scholarship program,” said Lally. “Jeremy has worked so hard for so many years to find and bring together the best talented young drivers the United States has to offer, then give them a stage to show off their talents and potential. It’s so much fun being alumni and this year’s Driver Crop is looking forward to fulfilling a lifelong dream of a racing career.