Archive for the ‘Pro Mazda’ Category

GRIST: Frustration setting in as we search for better results

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

5.1.14 (via MoreFrontWing.com) – My Andretti Autosport teammates and I got back earlier this week from Rounds 3 and 4 of the Pro Mazda season at Barber Motorsports Park. We were looking forward to getting down there after our podium at Winterfest this past off-season, especially since we had a rough weekend at St. Pete and were hoping Barber would give us the bounce-back we needed to get our season on track.

We started out strong and even put the DaVinci Foods/Lander Property Management car in P2 in one of the practice sessions. But when we got to qualifying, we made some changes that set the car off-balance and really hurt us. We ended up qualifying eighth, which was not at all where we felt like we should have been.

Then, we threw another big round of changes at the car for Race 1 to try to bring it back, but it ended up even worse. It was a struggle just to hold on to our starting position for all 20 laps, but I managed to pull it off.

For Race 2 on Sunday morning, we decided to take our changes in the opposite direction. This ended up being the right move because the car was a lot better. I finished in seventh but had the third-fastest lap of the race, and that was even after burning my tires off and spending some time in traffic. I feel like if we weren’t in traffic I could have had one of the quickest cars on track and been able to get past more guys.

If I sound a bit frustrated it’s because I am, to be honest. We’re really not where I thought we would be at this point in the year, especially not after the great results we had at Winterfest. I had hoped we’d be in the top three and battling for wins in every race, and that just hasn’t been happening. I know I’m a rookie and I know I should try to be more patient, but I also know that right now we’re really not showing people just how much we can do.

In my last blog I mentioned that I was going to hang out at Long Beach with my teammate, Shelby Blackstock, and it actually ended up not happening. That was my birthday weekend, and I had an opportunity to stay home and spend some time with some family members who I don’t get to see very often, so I opted to do that and lay low instead. From what I hear from Shelby, though, Long Beach was a good time… I’ll have to try to get down there next year.

Now, everybody’s looking ahead to the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. I had a chance to check out the Verizon IndyCar Series open test yesterday, and the track looks great. In the morning I watched from pit lane and chatted with the engineers about what we were seeing, and then in the afternoon I walked around and checked out some of the different viewing spots. It looks like they did a really good job on it, and it should be a fun track to race.

I sure hope IMS is better to us than St. Pete and Barber have been. I’ll be back to let you know how it goes.

- Garett

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of April 21, 2014

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

4.22.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Friday, April 25
 
Marco Andretti & Ryan Hunter-Reay
ShopAndretti.com Merch Signing
INDYCAR Fan Village
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
 
 
Saturday, April 26
 
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz 
Verizon IndyCar Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
 
 
Sunday, April 27
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham
Indy Lights Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist
Pro Mazda Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
 
 
 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of April 7, 2014

Monday, April 7th, 2014

4.7.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Grand Prix of Long Beach!

 

 

Thursday, April 10

James Hinchcliffe

Pit Stop Demo

Pine Ave.

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

 

Friday, April 11

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

Verizon IndyCar Autograph Session

INDYCAR Paddock

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

The Yellow Party

w/ a performance by LIVE

The Federal Bar

102 Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802

6:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

 

Saturday, April 12

Carlos Muñoz meet & greet

Honda Latino

INDYCAR Fan Village

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing

Indy Lights Autograph Session

INDYCAR Fan Village

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

 

 

Zach Veach claims first series win in St. Pete

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RACER) – Zach Veach took the first Indy Lights win of his career with a dominant performance in St. Petersburg. The Andretti Autosport driver, who was one of only three non-rookies in the field, passed polesitter and fellow veteran Gabby Chaves at the first corner, and never looked back. He crossed the line five seconds clear of Chaves, who in turn had a 16s buffer over third-placed Jack Harvey.
 

"I'm so happy. Last year didn't go exactly how we wanted it to, but my engineer (Doug Zister) never stopped helping me," related Veach. "This winter I spent a lot of time trying to get more physically strong because I felt that was my weakness, and spent a lot of time doing mental things and came into the season with a whole new attitude. I think it paid off for us.
 

"My engineer definitely was on me a lot about saving tires. In my mind I was thinking, 'Just don't mess up, just hit my marks, have clean laps' – and we were able to do that. I took the lead early and were able to keep it from there. I want to thank everyone on the RePLAY XD team for all their hard work and support in getting me to Victory Lane. Big thanks to Cooper TiresMazda and the Mazda Road to Indy for this amazing start to 2014."
 

It was the battle for third that provided most of the race's interest. Early on the position was occupied by Matthew Brabham, who looked a threat for second during the opening laps before he clipped the wall at Turn 3 and was forced to pit with a punctured left-rear tire. That promoted AutoGP champion Vittorio Ghirelli onto the provisional podium, but he was never able to open a gap over the group of cars pursuing him and was eventually beaten with a great move around the outside of the last corner by Harvey.

 

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Young talent Garett Grist hoping to make big waves at Andretti Autosport in 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) – Being the youngest member of the team doesn’t mean one can’t make a big splash. That philosophy is exactly what young rising star Garett Grist is hoping to prove this season in the Pro Mazda Series presented by Cooper Tires.

Driving for Andretti Autosport (AA), the soon-to-be 19-year-old makes his debut in Pro Mazda this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the season opening St. Petersburg Pro Mazda doubleheader. The young Canadian, who last season competed in USF2000 for the veteran open wheel squad, says that while he wasn’t comfortable at first with moving up the ladder a year early, he knew that it was the smarter decision to remain with the Andretti team.

“To be honest, this wasn’t where I expected I was going to be this season (in Pro Mazda), but I’ll take it,” said Grist, who is currently finishing his final term of high school at Grimsby District Secondary School in Ontario. “When the Andrettis announced they were going to be closing their F2000 program going into this year, I knew I had two options: either stay in USF2000 and find a new team to work with, or move up with the team I’m at now.”

“I’m excited and glad to be with Michael Andretti and everyone at Andretti Autosport again this season. Our first year definitely had a lot of high points, but I didn’t accomplish everything personally that I wanted to; I’m hoping that with this group of guys helping me out again that we can make 2014 an even stronger year for this whole team.”

Grist began his junior karting career in his native Canada in 2009, winning the ASN Canada FIA Junior Rotax National Championship in his rookie season and qualifying to compete at the karting World Finals as a member of Team Canada in both 2009 and 2010. He also won the Western Canadian Challenge Junior Rotax championship in 2010 before moving up to test his hand at single-seater Formula racing in 2011.

The young gun raced in Formula Ford and F1600 in 2011 and 2012, racking up a combined seventeen top ten finishes between the two season runs, including three victories in Ontario Formula Ford in 2011 and a fourth place finish in the F1600 Formula F Series championship with Bryan Herta Autosport in 2012. Grist also received the prestigious Team Canada Racing scholarship before hooking up with the Andretti Autosport team for the 2013 season, when the young teenager’s career took off.

Last year, in a breakout season, Grist took the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship by storm, notching a win, a pole, four podium and ten top 10 finishes in his rookie campaign in both the series and with his Andretti team. The Ontario native parlayed that record into a third-place finish in the championship standings and Rookie of the Year honors, but says he feels like last season should have been even bigger for he and the team despite a thrilling runner-up result at Lucas Oil Raceway and the victory in the final round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“We had a good year last year, but we definitely had a few races get away from us,” Grist lamented as he recalled his 2013 campaign. “I feel like we easily could have and probably should have won all three races (at Mid-Ohio) that weekend, we just had a few things go wrong here and there.”

“The race at LOR though, was amazing for us. We dropped back a pretty long ways in the middle of the race, and then it started getting down to crunch time around the last 20 laps or so, and the car just came to life; we started picking our way through and got all the way to second. Ran out of time to get the leader, but it was a great day and really bolstered my confidence a lot.”

Grist also competed in this year’s Cooper Tire’s Winterfest, where he notched a win and four top four finishes in four starts to come home third in the winter series championship standings behind Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove.

Off-track, Grist is also very active in giving back to the community in his home province. Grist is an avid supporter of the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and pays frequent visits to the hospital to spend time with many of the young patients. Grist and the AA team also have the patients submit helmet designs that are then used on his helmets and auctioned off, with any proceeds going back to the hospital.

 

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Shelby Blackstock paving own way to stardom in 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

4.1.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) — Ask Shelby Blackstock about his parents. He’ll tell you all about them. In fact, he’s as proud of them as they are of him.

Blackstock, the son of country music superstar Reba McEntire and her husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, has never shied away from talking about his family, but has worked hard over the years to find his own individual niche and follow his own path, one that led away from the entertainment business, where he spent his time as a young child, and into a different form of entertainment — auto racing.

“I worked on the road (with mom and dad) when I was eight years old, just doing odds and ends but still doing things for them, but they really got me working by the time I was 10,” Shelby says, recalling his days before racing. “It was never something that was forced on me. I wanted to have a chance to go work on the road anyways. I was a roadie for a while, I just never ended up living it,” Blackstock laughs.

“I’d go out on tour for two, three weeks at a time and it was awesome as a kid, but as I got older, I realized it wasn’t for me.”

After graduating high school, Shelby was enrolled at the University of Arizona, but quickly began having second thoughts about earning his degree. During Thanksgiving of his freshman year, Shelby called his mother and struck a deal with her that if he finished the school year, she would agree to send him out to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing.

“I got to U of A, and I started asking around about potential majors,” Blackstock explained. “I said, ‘do you have anything with cars or car design?’ and they said, ‘well no, you have to be an art major and that’s two more years at a different college’, so that was out. Aerodynamics was three more years and being a space major, so I’m like, ‘yeah, no’ but while I was there I met Jim Click (with the Jim Click Racing Team) in Tucson and that kicked off the motorsports dream.

When Blackstock arrived at the Bondurant School and got behind the wheel, there was no doubt about his natural talent for driving race cars. He outpaced all of the “refresher course” drivers on the ground and showed so much skill that the Bondurant School suggested he take a turn at the Skip Barber School of Racing.

On advice, Blackstock did indeed head to Skip Barber to perfect his craft after returning to the Bondurant School one more time following the conclusion of his school year, and from there, the road was built.

But even despite Blackstock’s long journey to get to professional motorsports, from a very early age it seemed he was destined to belong there.

“My parents bought us (Shelby and his niece) go-karts one Christmas and told us we could ride them at the house. Now, these aren’t the race karts that everybody’s used to seeing the kids learn in today; these were from Wal-Mart with lawn mower engines, full-on ‘redneck-mobiles’ and it was probably crazy what we were doing with them,” the Tennessee native laughed.

“So, my parents buy us these karts, and their rule was that we couldn’t drive in the grass, not in any circumstances. We could only drive on the driveway and in the field.  The problem was at the end of the driveway we had to 180 it to keep out of the grass, and a lot of times we’d hook the wheels and roll the karts. Finally, we figured out how to drop the right rear wheel down on the dirt just enough to lose traction, and then we’d yank the wheel left and slam on the brakes. Problem solved!”

Blackstock began his competitive racing career on August 28, 2010, racing in the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup series, but it wasn’t until January of 2011 that Blackstock made his sports car debut in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona running as high as first before turning the car over to his co-driver Roly Falgueras. The duo ultimately finished 18th that day but the track time would set the stage for Blackstock’s future success.

Blackstock’s season got off on the right foot from race one, as he took the victory along with co-driver Ashley Freiberg at the BMW Performance 200, the season-opening event for the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Looking at that moment now, Blackstock calls it “career-changing”.

“To have started out our season the way we did with Fall Line Motorsports in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge was amazing. Every single session we went out we were insanely fast and in the end it just all came together. Even despite some problems in qualifying we started fifteenth and were able to pull out a win.”

“To go to victory lane at Daytona; every driver in the world dreams of having a chance to win there. Now we can say we’ve done it.”

Blackstock has also raced in the Skip Barber National Series and the Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship. Currently, he races in the Pro Mazda Championship with Andretti Autosport and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driving the Grnad Sport (GS) #51 Boss 302R Mustang for Roush Performance.

 

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Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24th, 2014

3.24.14 – Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Pete, the 2014 season opener!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday, March 27
 
Marco Andretti signing
Walgreens
5420 9th Street N., St. Pete, FL 33716
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
 
Carlos Muñoz LIVE Twitter chat
@FollowAndretti
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
 
Zach Veach, Matthew Brabham, Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist
Festival of States Parade
on the streets of Downtown St. Pete
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Friday, March 28
 
Marco Andretti & James Hinchcliffe signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
12:05 p.m. – 12:35 p.m.
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay appearance
The Yellow Party
The Vinoy
501 5th Ave. NE., St. Pete, 33701
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Saturday, March 29
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing
Indy Lights Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Muñoz signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
12:05 p.m. – 12:35 p.m.
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist signing
USF2000/Pro Mazda Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
 
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Muñoz signing
Verizon IndyCar Series Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Sunday, March 30
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village Stage
11:10 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.
 
Carlos Muñoz Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village Stage
12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
 
 
 

Colombian rookie Carlos Munoz’s driving set to earn more headlines

Friday, March 21st, 2014

3.21.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – Carlos Munoz’s two 2013 starts for Andretti Autosport in an IndyCar produced audible gasps more often than not.

There was no way he was going to make some of the moves and entry lines he did work. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his line of arcing in so high and then diving so low below the white line in the turns should not have ended without him in the wall. But it did, in second place in his Indianapolis 500 debut.

Then at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in October, Munoz was moving high or low with ease in an action-packed 100 laps. Then, just past the century-mark, it finally bit him.

The 22-year-old Colombian is a seriously impressive star in the making, and with a full offseason to prepare for his first full season in the championship, he’s the early favorite for rookie-of-the-year honors in the team’s No. 34 Cinsay Honda.

Don’t tell him that, though. Munoz is a quiet, introspective student appreciative of the teammates around him and his countryman, Juan Pablo Montoya, who he’ll have the chance to race this year.

“Yeah, I’m a really quiet guy. I’m really shy,” Munoz admitted during IndyCar media day in Orlando. “That doesn’t mean I’m – how you say – bad person. I’m quiet and shy compared to James (Hinchcliffe). He’s always talking, making jokes, completely different mind.

“But they treat me as one of them. They treat me really well. After Indy they treat me really well!  But it’s great to have this combination of drivers, no?”

Munoz didn’t need to produce a star turn in the ‘500 to earn his place on the grid, but it didn’t hurt. He showed enough aggression, poise and pace in his two full seasons in Indy Lights that he was projected to move up this year, despite not winning the championship a year ago.

“That race just gave me the opportunity to be here in a full season,” he said. “I have another chance to go get that race. I’m focused on this year. But now I have my chance and I have to think and work for it.”

At least initially, he may have a slight pace edge on his two countrymen, Montoya and Sebastian Saavedra. Montoya will need to shake the rust off after his extended open-wheel hiatus, while Saavedra acclimates to a new team at KV/AFS Racing.

Munoz said Montoya wasn’t so much his idol, as much as a symbol of what could be achieved when Munoz was growing up. But he plans to consider him just “one of the guys” once on track.

“I don’t like the word ‘idolized,’ but he was a symbol for me when I was a kid, an example for me and many Colombian drivers, to follow him,” Munoz said.

 

 

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Matthew Brabham selected to receive 20th Gorsline Scholarship

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

3.13.14 (via Motorsport.com) – Matthew Brabham, of Indianapolis and Gold Coast Australia, was presented the 20th Gorsline Scholarship by John Gorsline today at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida.

Brabham, 20, is part of the Brabham Family dynasty as grandson of three-time Formula One champion Jack Brabham, son of four-time IMSA GTP champion Geoff Brabham and nephew of two-time ALMS LMP champion David Brabham. With this scholarship he will work with Dr. Jacques Dallaire, Director of Performance Prime, on an individually-designed performance-enhancement program, and will benefit from a unique training program at Jim Leo's PitFit Training – all courtesy of Gorsline Company.

The Gorsline Scholarship is presented by Gorsline Company, of Rochester, N.Y., the leader in high-risk motorsports insurance. It recognizes aspiring drivers by providing programs with tools that will assist them in developing skills on and off the track to help attain their professional goals.

Two other young drivers were also considered for the Scholarship: Sean Rayhall, 19, of Winston, Ga., and Madison Snow, 18, of Lehi, Utah.

"At such a young age, Matthew is already an accomplished racer," said Gorsline, principal of Gorsline Company. "All three of the candidates for the 20th Gorsline Scholarship are worthy recipients. It was a tough decision, but we selected Matthew. We're confident he'll benefit from the performance-enhancement and fitness training programs that Dallaire and Leo will provide as he progresses in his racing career."

"I'm absolutely honored and it really means a lot to me, for sure," said Matthew, who will begin his 2014 racing season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) on March 28-30, driving for Andretti Autsport in Indy Lights. "I've known John Gorsline for a while now, through my father, and to have my name on the list with previous recipients with such outstanding pedigrees is really, really cool and special. I've worked with Jim Leo and Jacques Dallaire before and they are such massive influences, especially in American motorsports. So, to be on board with them helping me through this really, really important time of my career is going to be huge. I'm really looking forward to meeting with them and working with these programs to help me succeed in my racing career."

 

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Brabham paces field during Cooper Tires Winterfest in Alabama

Friday, February 28th, 2014

2.28.14 (via RACER.com) – The rivalry that is developing between Matthew Brabham and Gabby Chaves continued to gain momentum when the Cooper Tires Winterfest Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series test concluded with two more days of testing at Barber Motorsports Park. As was the case last Friday and Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana, the two protagonists were rarely separated by more than a few tenths of a second during four sessions yesterday and today on the scenic and challenging 2.3-mile road course. On this occasion it was Brabham who emerged with the fastest time for Andretti Autosport.

 

Brabham, who is seeking to become the first driver ever to win all three steps on the Mazda Road to Indy in consecutive seasons after claiming the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship and last year's Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title, posted a best of 1:15.160 in bitterly cold conditions this afternoon.

 

"I'm coming out of this test a lot more confident than I was going in, that's for sure. I think we proved that we definitely have the pace to run up front. We were in the top two, fighting for the first few positions time-wise, in every single session, so I'm really, really confident and very happy with how the team's working. They're doing an awesome job. I can't thank the guys enough and I'm really looking forward to the first race in St. Petersburg. It's going to be interesting to see where everybody ends up when testing finishes and we get to the first race, but so far so good for us."

 

Chaves, who paced this morning's session for Belardi Auto Racing, ended up second overall with a time of 1:15.461 set this afternoon.

Brazilian Luiz Razia completed the test third fastest for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at 1:15.522. The veteran of GP2 in Europe headed Andretti Autosport's Zach Veach (1:15.728), from Stockdale, Ohio, who was feeling much better after being hit by a nasty throat infection last weekend, and Englishman Jack Harvey in a second Schmidt Peterson car on 1:15.806.

 

 

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