Strong Fields on Deck for USF Pro Championships Spring Training
 February 24, 2024| 
  • Series News
Jeffers Banner

NOLA Motorsports Park to Host Two-Day Test for USF Pro 2000, USF2000 and USF Juniors

PALMETTO, Fla. – A new season of major open-wheel racing in North America is approaching fast. Two weeks from now, on March 8-10, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will take to the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for its eagerly anticipated opening race. And as usual there will be a full supporting cast which will comprise two of the three levels of the world-renowned USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire open-wheel development ladder.

Interest in the critical proving ground categories is running at an all-time record level. Accordingly, no fewer than 65 young drivers representing 11 nationalities will be on hand when USF Pro Championships hosts its traditional Spring Training two-day test for all three series on Monday and Tuesday, February 26-27, at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La. All have their eyes set firmly on grabbing a portion of the $1.68 million in scholarship prizes and awards which will be distributed at the late August season-ending banquet in Portland, Ore.

Veterans, Rookies Set for USF Pro 2000 Showdown
A dozen USF Pro 2000 Presented by Continental Tire rookies will be joined by eight series veterans when testing commences next week on the 2.74-mile, 13-turn road course, just a few miles from downtown New Orleans.

Entry List

After clinching last year’s USF2000 championship and a scholarship valued at over $433,000 to advance to the next level, Simon Sikes heads the rookie contingent with an eye to becoming the second driver in three years to secure successive titles in USF2000 and USF Pro 2000. Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen, who achieved the feat in 2020 and 2021, will line up on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES grid this year with Ed Carpenter Racing. Sikes, from Augusta, Ga., remains with Pabst Racing, which also claimed last year’s USF Pro 2000 crown with Myles Rowe.

The rookie contingent also will include second and third-place finishers in the 2023 USF2000 title-chase - Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing), from Gulfport, Fla., and Australian Lochie Hughes (Turn 3 Motorsport) - as well as Canadian Mac Clark (DEForce Racing), who won the inaugural USF Juniors title in 2022.

With several of the top point-scorers last year moving up the ladder to INDY NXT including Rowe – who becomes the sixth consecutive USF Pro 2000 champion to advance – Arizonan Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing) is the highest placed returnee. He will be joined in the Pabst Racing stable by Christian Brooks, from Los Angeles, Calif., who won once despite making only four starts in 2023.

Braden Eves also is set to rejoin the fray with a point to prove. Eves, the 2019 USF2000 champion, placed second in the 2021 USF Pro 2000 season and now returns with the Exclusive Autosport team after a year's hiatus.

USF2000 Field Wide Open
A similar blend of drivers with differing levels of experience make up the entry list in USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire. Once again, many of the leading protagonists from 2023 have graduated to the next level, USF Pro 2000, leaving Ohioan Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), who placed fourth last year, and Sam Corry, who ended the year seventh in points, as the early favorites to chase after a champion’s scholarship valued at $458,400.

Entry List

Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., has joined defending champion team Pabst Racing alongside returning driver Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., who, at only 13 years of age, was not old enough to take part in the opening event of the 2023 season in St. Petersburg. But Garcia quickly established himself as a regular contender for honors.

Hudson Schwartz, from Arlington, Va., also 14, will complete the Pabst lineup after winning last year’s Lucas Oil School of Racing Formula Car Series Championship and finishing eighth in USF Juniors despite not competing in the opening event of the season.

Other returning drivers of note will include Joey Brienza, a race winner in USF Juniors, Exclusive Autosport teammate Thomas Schrage, winner of the 2022 FRP Formula 1600 Championship Series and a prestigious Team USA Scholarship who impressed in a handful of outings last year, and Indianapolis, Ind., native Elliot Cox, who returns with the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development team after shining on several occasions in 2023.

Third generation Brazilian racer Nicolas Giaffone seems set to shine among the rookie contingent after comfortably wrapping up the USF Juniors crown last year with DEForce Racing. Others to watch include Giaffone’s teammate Quinn Armstrong, from Newcastle, Australia, who was vice champion in USF Juniors last year, Michael Costello, a standout in the F4 United States Championship for Jay Howard Driver Development, and 2023 Team USA Scholarship winner Ayrton Houk, from McCordsville, Ind., who has joined DC Autosport after two strong seasons in F1600.

Record Field Set for USF Juniors
Young Texan Jack Jeffers will begin the new USF Juniors Presented by Continental Tire season as one of the firm favorites to secure a scholarship valued at $263,500 to progress into USF2000 in 2025.

Entry List

Jeffers, 17, established his pedigree by winning the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series title in 2022. He then finished a strong third in his rookie USF Juniors campaign which netted three victories and cemented his credentials by winning four of the six races that comprised the recent YACademy Winter Series in Florida for the Exclusive Autosport team.

But Jeffers is unlikely to have things all his own way with a record-setting 28-car field set to arrive in Louisiana. New Jersey’s Max Taylor will return with VRD Racing after notching one victory last year, while a stellar crop of rookies will include Floridians Sebastian Wheldon and Augusto Soto-Schirripa and British talent Liam McNeilly.

Wheldon, son of the late two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, will make his highly anticipated move into USF Juniors following an impressive career in junior karting and victory in last year’s Skip Barber Formula Car Series, which netted him a $100,000 scholarship. Wheldon, who won one YACademy Winter Series race at Sebring, will be part of a strong contingent from the VRD Racing stable.

Soto-Schirripa also has made his mark in junior open-wheel racing, arriving late onto the scene last year in F4 and proceeding to win four out of eight races to land third in the championship in a partial season for the InterMS squad. McNeilly, of London, England, was a multiple race winner and podium finisher in the GB4 Championship in 2023, securing third in the standings.

A full schedule of on-track activity and living timing is available on the three series’ websites – usfpro2000.com, usf2000.com and usfjuniors.com - as well as the USF Pro Championships App.

  • 24-04-10-jhdd1
     4.10.24| 
    • Team News
  • Ingratta
     4.9.24| 
    • Team News
  • USF Juniors Sunday photo2
     4.8.24| 
    • Series News
  • Wheldon_Race1
     4.6.24| 
    • Series News
  • McNeilly Banner
     4.2.24| 
    • Series News