Allen Berg Racing Schools was very pleased to be invited to participate in this year’s prestigious TEAM U.S.A. scholarship “runoff” event a few weeks ago. Eight young drivers from across America took part in a two-part “final exam” that saw them first spend a day at Seat Time LLC, a southern California race simulator training center; then travel the next day to Auto Club Speedway to drive the fast ABRS FR1600 open-wheelers on the challenging 13-turn infield road course.
The eight finalists were:
- Neil Alberico, 19, Redlands, Calif.
- Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Matthew Brabham, 18, Manalapan, Fla.
- Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda (three wins, four poles) Jake Eidson, 17, Littleton, Colo.
- Skip Barber Winter Series champion and Summer Series contender (six wins) Conner Ford, 16, Carson City, Nev.
- Pacific Formula F Super Series (six wins)/World Challenge B-Spec Sean Johnston, 21, Mt. Shasta, Calif.
- IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge points leader (four wins, four poles) Jack Mitchell Jr., 16, Clarendon Hills, Ill.
- Barber Summer Series leader (three wins)/Canadian F1600 (one win) Brandon Newey, 20, Carmel, Ind.
- F1600 Championship Series points leader (two wins) Tristan Nunez, 16, Boca Raton, Fla.
- Cooper Tires Prototype Lites points leader (eight wins, nine poles) Allen Berg acted as the day’s host at ACS, as well as participating as one of the judges and was quite impressed with the quality of driving talent as well as people skills that each of the young hopefuls possessed.
“I can’t say that I’ve seen a more talented group of beginning drivers,” said Berg, a veteran of Formula One who has trained over 3000 drivers in the six years since he opened his first racing school. “The concentration level that these young men showed us was remarkable,” Berg told us. “They’re serious about every lap. They listen, they ask the right questions, they’re able to get so much out of this sort of experience … it was a joy to be a part of this important activity.” “What really worked quite well was the fact that each of the ABRS FR1600 race cars are equipped with the latest MoTec data acquisition systems and that we had some expert coaching in the form of IndyCar race engineer Stefan Dwornik, as well as MoTeC,s Chris Brown. Chris & Stefan were able to go over lines, braking points, shift points, and many other critical components of a fast lap on the Auto Club inner road course with each driver, pointing out places where precious tenths could be shaved off lap times,” Berg went on. “This part of a student’s day at ABRS is always fascinating, for many, going back over the data is just like being back out on the track again, only this time one can fully concentrate on what they need to gain the edge that marks a top pro in the racing world.”
On hand to offer driving tips, encouragement, and ultimately to help to decide on the drivers who would be moving on; was a strong list of from the motorsports world that included professional drivers like Brian Herta and Patrick Long , along with a number of top journalists. The octet vied for three fully funded rides in England later this year. Two youngsters will be entered under the Team USA Scholarship/Cliff Dempsey Racing banner in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 27-28 and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 3-4, while one slightly more experienced driver will be invited to contest the final two rounds of the Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone on October 6-7. For more information on the TEAM U.S.A. program: www.teamusascholarship.org