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Oct 02, 2013 - 06:30 AM
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Brabham Aims to Complete Record-Breaking Season with a Flourish
Posted by: newsla on Oct 02, 2013 - 06:30 AM
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Brabham Aims to Complete Record-Breaking Season with a Flourish


He came, he saw, he conquered. Born in Florida and raised in Surfers Paradise, Australia, Matthew Brabham has taken the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship ladder by storm since traveling back to North America at the beginning of the 2012 season. After winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda as a rookie and using his scholarship prize to graduate into this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with Andretti Autosport, the 19-year-old has continued his winning ways by clinching his second successive title with three races remaining.

 

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This weekend at the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Houston, the third-generation racer has his eyes set on breaking his own records for wins (11) and podiums (13) in a single season. He still has an opportunity to best 2012 champion Jack Hawksworth for fastest race laps (11).

“I'm extremely happy about winning the Pro Mazda championship this year,” said Brabham, whose grandfather Sir Jack won three Formula 1 world championships and father Geoff won a pair of North American sports car championships as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “It has been an incredible past couple of years in the U.S. for me. Last year the championship came right down to the last race so there was a lot of stress and nerves not only for me but for my entire family. Clinching the championship this year with a few races left has really eased the pressure and stress. I'm more relaxed heading into Houston without the championship burden on my shoulders. However my goal and mind-set will still be the same – it has been working for me this whole year so I'm not planning on changing anything. I think we will be really strong at Houston just like the other street tracks we have been to this year.”

As Pro Mazda champion, Brabham will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights next season – the third and final step on the highly regarded Mazda Road to Indy ladder system which provides a clear and scholarship-supported path for drivers to reach the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti Autosport clinched the team championship honors ahead of this week’s season-finale – their first championship in Pro Mazda and the former Star Mazda series.

Blackstock Chasing Ferreira for Second
Venezuelan Diego Ferreira has a firm grasp on second place in the championship but can still be caught by Brabham’s Andretti Autosport teammate Shelby Blackstock. Ferreira, 19, won the opening race of the season at the Circuit of The Americas and fully intends to complete his sophomore season with another victory in Texas with Juncos Racing, which has already clinched second place in the team standings. Ferreira’s tally of 11 podium finishes has taken him 58 points clear of Tennessean Blackstock, who will need to win both races and still require Ferreira to experience some misfortune to ensure a one-two championship finish for the Andretti team.

Blackstock, 23, has shown impressive pace in his rookie campaign, claiming three poles and one win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as well as six additional podiums.

Spencer Pigot of Team Pelfrey, who celebrated his 20th birthday last weekend, is the only other driver to have won a race this season. Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., was a leading contender each of the past two years in USF2000, claiming three wins in 2011 and a series-high eight victories in 2012. After an impressive recent Indy Lights test with defending champion team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Pigot has high hopes of ending his rookie season of Pro Mazda with another victory. He currently lies just eight points behind Blackstock in the championship standings.

Anderson, Piedrahita Chase Maiden Wins
Scott Anderson, 23, from Fort Collins, Colo., and Colombian Juan Piedrahita, 21, are both chasing their first Pro Mazda wins. Anderson, a former Skip Barber National Champion who won three times last year in his rookie USF2000 campaign, currently boasts a best finish of second with Juncos Racing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Piedrahita, meanwhile, has finished on the podium four times this season with JDC MotorSports, including a pair of third-place finishes in the two most recent races on the unforgiving streets of Trois-Rivieres, Canada.

Spirited Battle for Top Five in the Championship
Anderson currently holds the fifth spot in the point standings but three drivers have a mathematical chance to shuffle the order. JDC MotorSports’ Zack Meyer lies 26 points in arrears. The 21-year-old from Toronto, Ont., Canada notched his best result to date of fourth on the streets of Toronto. Another seven points back is Kyle Kaiser, 17, of World Speed Motorsports. The Santa Clara, Calif., native also posted his best results on street circuits with a trio of fifth-place drives. Lloyd Read, 22, from Newport, Wales, is just five points shy of Kaiser. The JDC Motorsports’ driver claimed his best Pro Mazda finish of fourth at Toronto.

Female Racer Looks Toward Full-time Campaign in 2014
Five years after making her Pro Mazda debut, Michele Bumgarner, from Manila, Philippines, will return to the series in Houston with World Speed Motorsports as a precursor to a full season in 2014.

Bumgarner, who began karting at age 10, was a standout performer through her teenage years and showed distinct promise when she graduated into cars in the 2006 Asian Formula 3 Championship at age 16. Now 24, she has attracted support from Mazda Philippines for her long awaited comeback.

“I am really excited that all of this has come together,” said Bumgarner. “I am looking forward to getting back in the seat and getting some laps in the car. To be able to have a race this season in preparation for next year is a real gift and I want to thank Mazda Philippines for that opportunity.”

Eberle, Horak Vie for Expert Series Honors
Local Houston racer Bobby Eberle and Jay Horak, from Mesa, Ariz., might not be among the contenders for overall victory in this weekend’s pair of races, but they will be just as determined to out-do each other as they battle it out for Expert Class honors.

Skip Barber Racing school graduate Eberle (World Speed Motorsports) currently holds an 18-point advantage over Horak, who drives for Cresson, Texas-based M1 Racing.

More Newcomers at Houston
Michael Whelden, from Sausalito, Calif., will make his Pro Mazda debut at Reliant Park Houston in a fourth World Speed Motorsports entry.

Whelden, 24, who put his racing career on hold for a few years to concentrate on completing his degree in business administration, returned in style last year to dominate the West Coast FormulaSPEED 2.0 Formula Car Challenge. He also recently clinched the Pro Formula Mazda National Championship at Sonoma Raceway, Calif. Whelden has his sights set on a full Pro Mazda campaign in 2014.

Jason Rabe, 29, of Millville, N.J., also will be making his series debut with M1 Racing. Rabe is an interesting story – going from living in his passenger car to living his dream. To make ends meet, he is a full-time driver coach/instructor and also has an auto-detailing business to generate extra funds for racing. Rabe has competed in amateur events up and down the East Coast and finished seventh in his debut in the SCCA’s F2000 Championship Series.

“I’ve sacrificed everything to pursue my passion and dream of racing cars professionally,” said Rabe, who hopes to make a full-season bid in Pro Mazda next season. “Now I’m about to make my Pro Mazda debut. It’s all surreal to me, but I’m proof that you should never give up on your dreams!”

Follow the Action
Pro Mazda drivers will be on track at Houston for the first time on Friday, October 4 with a 45-minute practice session beginning at 12:55 pm CT. Qualifying will take place at 7:45 am on Saturday, October 5, followed by Race One of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Houston at 11:35 am. The season finale will take the green flag at 7:45 am on Sunday, October 6.

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