A new race driver scholarship opportunity is just one of the highlights in this week’s Driver Development Roundup.
I also feature details on the new F1 Academy grassroots development series, NASCAR’s recent race combine that is looking to increase the diversity of those racing in the series and the winner of the 2023 edition of IMSA’s Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.
All this plus a look into the pressures of racing in Formula 2 in this week’s Driver Development Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Dragon Sport are launching a scholarship to find the next talented driver who will race alongside Rhys Lloyd in a fully funded seat for the 2024 Britcar Trophy in the Clio Cup class.
“The aim of the scholarship is to find the next big thing in endurance and tin top racing. We are looking for a driver either; graduating from karting, looking to progress their racing career, or perhaps someone new that aspires to get into endurance racing. We have got the platform to give ‘YOU’ a car for 2024 including guidance, coaching and the opportunity to race in the Britcar Trophy Championship!“
To be eligible to enter drivers must be over the age of 16 & have some racing experience in either Karts or Cars (race license required). All entrants will then be invited to an assessment day to drive a Renault Clio Cup car & be assessed on their driving ability, media skills & fitness levels. You can enter here.
F1 Academy has announced the launch of a new junior series which aims to get more women karting at a young age. The new junior series will be called Champions of the Future Academy Program (COFTA) which will see young girls given F1 Academy backing.
The new competition, which has been launched in collaboration with existing karting series Champions of the Future, will have three mixed gender categories: Minis (ages 8-11), Juniors (ages 11-14) and Seniors (ages 14-17).
Within those categories, F1 Academy will support three drivers with each beginning given an F1 Academy branded kart and race suit as well as financial support with entry fees. The best three female drivers in the Seniors category will then be invited to an official F1 Academy test.
Susie Wolff, F1 Academy’s managing director: “COTFA will operate a lottery system for the chassis and engines plus implement a fixed budget, giving us the opportunity to identify the top talent across all age groups. We will also provide the best in the senior category with an F1 Academy test, giving them a chance to prove themselves to our teams. Champions of the Future shares F1 Academy’s vision to increase female participation, create opportunity and allow clear progression up the motorsport ladder. F1 Academy Discover Your Drive will provide the ladder needed for the most talented participants to take the next steps into single seater racing, with our common goal to increase female participation and inclusion in the world of motorsport.”
In a sport that’s historically known for consisting of mostly white athletes, NASCAR and Team Rev Racing are working to ensure the next crop of talent in the racing industry is diverse. Last week, they held a race combine in North Carolina and South Carolina to identify promising young drivers.
Jusan Hamilton, NSCAR’s managing director of competition and operations, says it’s key that the drivers have a range of skills beyond racing.
“You have to be able to get sponsors; you have to be able to sell yourself. You have to be marketable. You have to have the personality to connect with fans and then be appealing to a company. So that’s why we have that format,” Hamilton said. “The media marketing evaluation is one aspect, but yes, the drivers have to be able to perform on track. That’s a given, that’s obviously number one, but number two is — do they have the whole package? Because one day, we want to see each of these drivers make it all the way up the ladder to the Cup Series.”
Ken Fukuda, a 36-year-old Skip Barber Racing School instructor, has been awarded the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship. The scholarship covers the cost of a 2024 entry list in either the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge or IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge as well as 50 percent of an entry for 2025.
“Racing hasn’t changed. If you love it enough, you’re persistent, you have enough desire and you continue learning from your mistakes and you follow the three keywords that every mentor that I’ve truly, truly respected has said – never give up – anyone can make it.”
The FIA Formula 2 website has published a great insight into the pressures of racing in Formula 2 and the expectation versus ambition aspect of it.
“Racing in the shadow of F1 on Grand Prix weekends is an honour but also a hugely pressured environment. Now more than ever before, drivers are under the microscope, and the closer they are to realising their dream, good results are crucial.”