The alliance between the Australian Formula Ford Series and the Mazda Road to Indy in the USA has been strengthened with the news that the 2016 Australian Ford Ford champion will be invited to participate in the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout.
The Scholarship Shootout will gather the champions of leading US and international junior openwheeler series - including the Australian Formula Ford Series - for a knockout-style contest, with the winner receiving a $US200,000 scholarship to contest the 2017 USF2000 series.
“During our strategic review in 2013, we identified the need for pathways for Formula Ford drivers who wanted to further their development," said Formula Ford Association Chairman John Van Leeuwen.
"Pathways is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but we wanted something that not only gave drivers a leg-up in their career but also helped them overcome the financial challenge of progressing a career in motorsport. This opportunity offers exactly that to our competitors.
"The Formula Ford Association's alliance with the Mazda Road to Indy program began with the Australian Formula Ford Series champion being offered a USF2000 test and a financial incentive to compete in the series.
“The appointment of the Australian Formula Ford Series as an official feeder to Mazda Road to Indy further cements it as a world-class driver development category.
“F1 is not the only dream for young Australian racing drivers, although it seems to get the most attention. More Australian drivers have reached IndyCars than F1, with Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and James Davison waving the Aussie flag in this year's series.
"Reaching F1 is reserved for drivers with a multi-million dollar funding. Not only is progressing a racing career in the US more affordable via Mazda Road to Indy, but there are numerous professional series that increase a driver's career prospects.
"Whilst the Europeans are trying to figure out the best pathway to F1, the Mazda Road to Indy ladder has the pathway to IndyCars sorted. It's a testament to Andersen Promotions, which promotes Mazda Road to Indy.
"This great addition to the Australian Formula Ford Series adds even more value to Australia's most affordable, competitive and largest national openwheeler development category.
"The international recognition that the Australian Formula Ford Series has gained has spurred the Formula Ford Association to create closer ties with the Australian government to help assist in new initiatives to help developing racing drivers," Mr Van Leeuwen said.
The USF2000 series is the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy driver development ladder, followed by Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. The champion of each rung is offered a scholarship to the next rung, helping the best drivers to progress up the ladder.
For more information on the USF2000 series, visit www.usf2000.com