Houk, Sullivan Join Illustrious List of Team USA Scholarship Winners

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Published on September 21, 2023 with No Comments

Ayrton Houk (left) and Jack Sullivan.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. – Ayrton Houk and Jack Sullivan will follow in some illustrious footsteps during the next few weeks as they fly the distinctive and patriotic red-white-and-blue Team USA Scholarship colors in several prestigious Formula Ford races in the UK.

They are the latest pair of talented young American race car drivers to be selected for the program, joining the likes of Jimmy Vasser and Bryan Herta, who were the first two Team USA Scholarship recipients in 1990 and 1991 respectively, and this year’s Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden, whose rise to the top of the North American racing ladder as a two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion included claiming a Team USA Scholarship – and a Formula Ford Festival victory – in 2008.

Houk, 20, from McCordsville, Ind., and Sullivan, 17, from Hamilton, Ohio, earned the opportunity following a recent shootout at the Polecat Training Center facility in Lynchburg, Tenn. Both have been leading contenders in this year’s FRP Formula 1600 Championship Series. They were joined at the shootout by Elliott Budzinski, 21, from Ann Arbor, Mich., and Jason Pribyl, 18, from Glenview, Ill.

All four candidates performed with distinction at the shootout.

“Every year our team USA candidates are strong, and it makes the decision making extremely tough,” said 1999 Team USA Scholarship winner Andy Lally, who headed the judging panel alongside 1993 scholarship recipient Jerry Nadeau, accomplished sports car-turned-sprint car racer Sean Rayhall and Polecat Training Center principals Paul Arnold, JR Speight and Rafe Baskin.

“This year, however the lap times were so tight and the sessions so closely fought out in both wet, damp and dry conditions that we had to go deeper and deeper into what potentially separates each of these drivers. We ended up taking into consideration many other factors, and it was still a close and divided vote. I know every single one of the candidates that we tested would do a fine job representing Team USA but in the end we can only pick two. I cannot wait to see how these young drivers perform and I know all four have potentially amazing futures ahead of them.”

Kelly Jones (left) and Ed Jones (right) put Houk and Sullivan through their paces.

Houk and Sullivan recently have begun preparations for an extended stay in England with three days of simulation training with Kelly Jones at RaceCraft1’s impressive new facility at the SILO Auto Club and Conservancy in Indianapolis, Ind., where they were joined for one day by accomplished INDYCAR and sports car driver Ed Jones.

“Having the opportunity to train at RaceCraft1 was extremely helpful in learning the track layouts with the help and coaching provided by Kelly Jones,” said Houk (pronounced “Howk”). “Also, being able to drive with Jack Sullivan as a teammate and noticing each other’s driving tactics was great to learn and will definitely be beneficial for racing as teammates in the near future.”

Houk and Sullivan will head to England later this week to begin on extensive testing program with Ammonite Motorsport in readiness for the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 21/22 and the Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone on November 4/5.

“I am honored to be added to the extremely talented roster of scholarship winners that Team USA has built over the years,” added Houk. “I am also looking forward to traveling overseas for the first time and racing with the level of talent that the UK has to offer while also gaining immense knowledge and valuable experience from this opportunity.”

Sullivan on the simulator at RaceCraft1.

“I’m deeply honored and extremely grateful to be selected to represent the United States and to join the long list of successful Team USA Scholarship alumni,” said Sullivan. “It’s a truly incredible opportunity to further my racing career and I can’t wait for what lies ahead in the next few weeks.

“This opportunity will bring a lot of learning experiences on and off track and allow me to take a glimpse into what the life of a professional racecar driver looks like. I will get to explore a whole new world of racing, competing at iconic tracks, racing against new competitors, and running for a professional team for the first time. With all of the new connections and international exposure, I will be able to build up my value and enhance my marketing skills to help me step up through the ranks. I would like to thank Jeremy Shaw, all of the judges, and all of the partners and sponsors who make the Team USA Scholarship possible.”

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 AERO ™ Sustainable Paint Technology, Doug Mockett & Company, the Road Racing Drivers Club and SAFEisFAST.com, Chip Ganassi Racing, The Stellrecht Company, Chris Locke, CoForce, Josef Newgarden Racing, Dyson Racing, Polecat Training Academy, PrattMiller, PitFit Training, RaceCraft1, Sparco USA, Speedstar Management and Styled Aesthetic. Previous scholarship winners include Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Jerry Nadeau, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Phil Giebler, A.J. Allmendinger, J.R. Hildebrand, Dane Cameron, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Connor De Phillippi, Spencer Pigot, Trent Hindman, Tristan Nunez, Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood.

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