IMSA Champion Dane Cameron Joins Judging Panel for Team USA Shootout

Written by Team USA. Posted in Feature, Team USA News

Published on September 07, 2017 with No Comments

PONTIAC, Mich. – An elite panel of drivers and auto racing specialists will join together this weekend at the M1 Concourse facility in Pontiac, Mich., to help determine which two of six talented young American race car drivers will have earned an opportunity to represent the Team USA Scholarship in two prestigious international Formula Ford 1600 events in England later this fall. In addition to two days of evaluation at M1′s Champion Motor Speedway, plus invaluable seminars conducted by renowned performance specialist Dr. Jacques Dallaire of Performance Prime and PitFit Training’s Jim Leo, the extended weekend will include visits to technology leaders Pratt & Miller/Corvette Racing and Ilmor Engineering.

The candidates represent a variety of open-wheel feeder series and will each be traveling from a different home state: Sabré Cook, 23, from Grand Junction, Colo.; Elliot Finlayson, 21, from Yorkville, Ill.; Aaron Jeansonne, from Sulphur, La.; Jonathan Kotyk, 23, from Atlantic Beach, Fla.; Jacob Loomis, 17, from Corinth, Texas; and David Osborne, 21, from Cincinnati, Ohio.

An equally diverse panel of judges will feature former Team USA Scholarship winner and defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion Dane Cameron (right and, below, en route to winning the 2006 Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy series) and experienced professionals Marc Miller, driver for CJ Wilson Racing in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and fellow long-time racer Aaron Bambach, who currently competes in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck series.

“Winning a Team USA Scholarship in 2006 remains one of the most enjoyable and beneficial experiences of my career so I can’t wait to meet the group of potential winners,” said Cameron, who was confirmed recently as one of the drivers for Team Penske’s highly anticipated return to the IMSA series in 2018 with a brand-new Acura ARX-05 prototype. “I am really excited to be on the other side of the fence in the judging process rather than in the cross hairs. I’ve helped with the Team USA selection process in the past but haven’t been to the shootout with the finalists so I am looking forward to seeing them in action on track firsthand.”

“It is an honor to be asked to judge this year’s finalists for the Team USA Scholarship,” added Bambach, who serves as track manager and lead instructor at M1 Concourse. “I was fortunate to be a part of similar scholarship programs in my career. I will be looking for speed, consistency and a true willingness to learn and absorb knowledge, something I’ve seen in so many great drivers over the years.”

Along with Dallaire, Leo and Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw, the panel also will comprise Bell Racing USA Director of Motorsports Chris Wheeler, Lucas Oil School of Racing COO Todd Snyder and lead instructor RC Enerson, and former F-16 fighter pilot and instructor Kelly Jones, proprietor of RaceCraft1.

“My level of excitement for the entire Team USA Scholarship program is huge,” said Wheeler. “At Bell Racing USA we value more than just a fast driver. We value good people with a true understanding of what it takes to be successful in motorsports, and that is exactly what we are dealing with in this program. I can’t wait to see who comes out of this weekend on top so we can add them to the Bell Racing USA Athlete Roster.”

“We are honored to again host the Team USA Scholarship Shootout,” said Snyder. “This year’s finalists are as strong a group as we’ve seen, and the Lucas Oil School of Racing fleet of race cars, each equipped with Cooper tires, will provide them with an equal opportunity to show the judges what they can do. Champion Motor Speedway at M1 Concourse, being a new venue both for the shootout and the finalists, will provide a level playing field of its own. The drivers selected to race for Team USA Scholarship later this year will have earned their seats.”

2016 Team USA Scholarship winners Oliver Askew, who last weekend at Watkins Glen clinched the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title to ensure graduation to the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, and Kyle Kirkwood, who holds a commanding lead in this year’s F4 United States Championship powered by Honda, also will join the adjudicating panel.

The Team USA Scholarship is one of the most successful and longest established driver development programs in the world. Almost a quarter of the drivers in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series (five out of 21 full-season campaigners: Charlie Kimball, JR Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly and Spencer Pigot), plus current sports car stand-outs Cameron, Joel Miller, Joey Hand, Andy Lally, Bryan Sellers and Trent Hindman, are all Team USA alumni.

“I’m extremely grateful to this illustrious panel of experts who have taken time out of their hectic schedules to join us for the weekend,” said Shaw. “I think it is a strong testament to the esteem in which our program is held in the auto racing world. We have a good group of candidates and I am excited to see which of them will rise to challenge and continue the legacy that has been established over the past 27 years.”

About Team USA Scholarship:
The program has been providing opportunities for talented American race car drivers at an early stage in their careers since 1990. Supporters include Doug Mockett & Company, the Road Racing Drivers Club and SAFEisFAST.com, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Team Penske, Mazda, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda Performance Development, Robertson Racing, Lucas Oil School of Racing, PitFit Training, RaceCraft1, Sparco USA, RACER Magazine, Speedstar Management, Styled Aesthetic and Manifest Group.

About Lucas Oil School:
Founded in 2015, Lucas Oil School of Racing is a Florida based company that offers arrive-and-drive racing schools, race series, and corporate events at locations around the United States. With its fleet of equally prepared race cars and cadre of professional driving coaches, Lucas Oil School of Racing that has quickly established itself as the premier racing driver training program in North America. To learn more about our offerings, visit www.lucasraceschool.com, and follow us at www.facebook.com/lucasraceschool.

About M1 Concourse:
M1 Concourse is an 87-acre playground for auto enthusiasts that includes a secure community of 250+ private garages and a state-of-the-art 1.5-mile Performance Track with its own private Motorsports Club. M1 is a place where enthusiasts can keep, show and exercise their vehicles in the company of other enthusiasts and enjoy unforgettable experiences in a social setting unavailable to people who keep their cars at home or in a traditional storage facility. More information at https://m1concourse.com/

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