Prizes totaling over $2.3 Million distributed at Mazda Road to Indy banquet
Scholarship prizes and awards totaling more than $2.3 million were distributed during last night’s Championship Celebration banquet at the Monterey Plaza Hotel following another hugely successful Mazda Road to Indy season which concluded this past weekend at nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Just shy of 300 people attended the banquet including more than 30 drivers representing 12 nations from around the globe.
The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering scholarships that enable talented drivers to progress all the way from karting and racing schools through the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
“Last night was tremendously rewarding on so many levels,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We have some incredible talent in all three series and it was a pleasure to honor them and provide the scholarships that will enable our champions to take the next step in their careers. All of this would not be possible without our tremendous partners in Mazda and Cooper Tires. Just as we watched Gabby (Chaves) blossom in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year, we are excited to see what the future holds for Spencer (Pigot). He is a tremendous talent and a deserving champion.”
The big winner last night was 21-year-old Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., who swept the weekend’s two Indy Lights races to turn a six-point deficit in the championship into a 27-point advantage over his nearest challenger. The Rookie of the Year pocketed a $1 million scholarship which will provide entry into three rounds of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series, including the historic 100th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May. Pigot earned several additional awards including a $25,000 cash award from Cosworth, a champion’s ring from Jostens and an original artwork by renowned artist and INDYCAR official Jim Swintal to commemorate his success.
Pigot has become a “poster boy” for the Mazda Road to Indy after previously claiming a Mazda scholarship to progress from karting to the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National series in 2009, which he promptly won to secure another scholarship which enabled him to progress into USF2000, and a third one after winning the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
“This has been the biggest weekend of my career for sure,” said Pigot. “I've been in the Mazda Road to Indy for my entire car racing career and to win two races and the championship at Mazda Raceway was the perfect end to my time here. I can't thank Mazda and Cooper Tires enough for everything they have done for me and every driver in the Mazda Road to Indy. Thanks to them I'm going to be a part of the biggest race in the world and achieve my dream of being in the Indianapolis 500.”
Two other champion drivers were honored during the evening’s festivities. Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, 19, from Miguelete, Uruguay, driving for Team Pelfrey, secured the Pro Mazda title and a scholarship check for $590,300 to assist in his graduation to Indy Lights in 2016, while USF2000 champion Nico Jamin, also 19, from Rouen, France, earned a Mazda Scholarship check for $381,100 which will allow him to graduate one step up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to Pro Mazda in 2016.
In addition, six former champion drivers were inducted into the Mazda Road to Indy Hall of Fame: Jonathan Bomarito and Lawson Aschenbach in USF2000, Guy Cosmo and Conor Daly in Pro Mazda and Paul Tracy and Josef Newgarden in Indy Lights.
Mazda Road to Indy Award Winners:
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Champion ($1 million scholarship) - Spencer Pigot, Juncos Racing
Second place ($75,000) - Jack Harvey, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian
Third place ($50,000) - Ed Jones, Carlin
Fourth place ($25,000) - RC Enerson, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian
Fifth place ($10,000): Max Chilton, Carlin
Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Award ($15,000) – Spencer Pigot
Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000) - Shelby Blackstock, Andretti Autosport
Indy Lights Team Championship ($15,000, plus $5,000 from SSTube) - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Indy Lights INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) - Jason Robb, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Indy Lights Spirit Award ($1,500) – RC Enerson
Dallara Bent Pushrod Award ($2,000) - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Jostens Indy Lights Champion’s Ring - Spencer Pigot
Mazda Road to Indy Rings (drivers contesting all three levels) - Spencer Pigot and Shelby Blackstock
Motegi Winning Driver Team Owner Trophy (set of street wheels) - Ricardo Juncos, Juncos Racing
Cosworth Champion’s Cash Award ($25,000) - Spencer Pigot
Dallara Champion’s Parts Credit ($25,000) - Spencer Pigot
Original artwork by Jim Swintal - Spencer Pigot
Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
Pro Mazda Champion ($590,300 scholarship) - Santiago Urrutia, Team Pelfrey
Second place ($25,000) - Neil Alberico, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
Third place ($12,500) - Garett Grist, Juncos Racing
Fourth place ($7,500) - Weiron Tan, Andretti Autosport
Fifth place ($5,000) - Timothé Buret, Juncos Racing
BBS Rookie of the Year ($7,500) - Santiago Urrutia
Pro Mazda Expert Class Champion ($2,500) - Bobby Eberle, World Speed Motorsports
Pro Mazda Team Championship ($7,500) - Juncos Racing
Pro Mazda INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) - Alejandro Juncos, Juncos Racing
Pro Mazda Spirit Award ($1,500) - Patricio O’Ward, Team Pelfrey
Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award – Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
Quarter Master Hard Charger Award ($1,000) - Alessandro Latif, World Speed Motorsports
Jostens Pro Mazda Driver Award (ring) - Santiago Urrutia
PFC Pro Mazda Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) - Juncos Racing
Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Santiago Urrutia
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
USF2000 Champion ($381,100 scholarship) - Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Second place ($10,000) - Jake Eidson, Pabst Racing
Third place ($5,000) - Aaron Telitz, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
Fourth place ($3,000) - Anthony Martin, John Cummiskey Racing
Fifth place ($2,000) - Parker Thompson, JDC MotorSports
Rookie of the Year ($1,500) - Anthony Martin
USF2000 Team Championship ($4,000) - Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
USF2000 INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) - Jerome Guimont, Pabst Racing
USF2000 Spirit Award ($1,500) - Anthony Martin
Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award - Team Pelfrey
Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000 product certificate) - Nikita Lastochkin, Team Pelfrey
Jostens Pro Mazda Driver Award (ring) – Nico Jamin
PFC USF2000 Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) - Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Nico Jamin