Skip to content

MRTI: Cooper Tires Winterfest Update; Garcia signs with SPM

Feb 24, 2014, 12:08 PM EST

Pro Mazda start at NOLA. Photo: Pro Mazda Championship Pro Mazda start at NOLA. Photo: Pro Mazda Championship

There was racing other than NASCAR in Daytona this weekend, hard as that is to believe.

The North American open-wheel season got underway with the Cooper Tires Winterfest at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans on Friday and Saturday, featuring all three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder: the Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 series.

In the five combined Pro Mazda and USF2000 races, five drivers from five different teams won. It’s a far cry from the last two Winterfests, where only the USF2000 series ran and the races were dominated by drivers from the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teams.

Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing, Friday) and Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport, Saturday) captured the first two Pro Mazda race wins. Pigot leads the points standings by 10 over Grist, heading to the second set of two days at Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The USF2000 series saw three different winners in as many races, which is two more teams than had won the Winterfest the last two years.

Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport, Friday) and RC Enerson (Team E, Saturday) and Clark Toppe (JDC Motorsports, Saturday) took the three USF2000 race wins. Enerson leads Cape’s Jake Eidson by six, 70-64, heading to Barber.

Cape swept each of the last two six-race Winterfests in 2012 and 2013, both times with one driver taking five of six races. Pigot (2012) and Neil Alberico (2013) were those two, although the eventual USF2000 regular season champions, Matty Brabham (2012) and Scott Hargrove (2013) took the sixth.

In the two days of Indy Lights testing at NOLA, 2013 runner-up Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) led Andretti Autosport’s Brabham. Luiz Razia was third for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. They head to Barber as well ahead of tomorrow.

Additionally on the Indy Lights front, and the SPM front, the team has signed veteran Juan Pablo Garcia as its second confirmed driver, besides Englishman  Jack Harvey.

The Mexican has made 30 series starts since 2009, with only three career top-five finishes (fourth at St. Petersburg, fifth at Milwaukee and Toronto all in 2013). He made strides in 2013, only his second full season in the championship.

A switch to the front-line Schmidt equipment should provide the 25-year-old Garcia his best chance at improving those statistics, and continuity. He’s competed with Team Moore Racing, Belardi Auto Racing, Jeffrey Mark Motorsport, Jensen Motorsport, HVM Racing, and Michael Crawford Motorsports in his Indy Lights career.

“It’s a very prestigious team in the Indy Lights series, and they have always demonstrated that all their cars are always vying for podiums, victories and leading races, and every year they win a championship,” Garcia said in a release. “They have good drivers, a good team of engineering and crew and, of course, great cars. It’s really hard to achieve that every single year.”

Besides the two confirmed, Razia and Juan Piedrahita have tested for SPM this winter, and are likely to be nominated to official race seats soon.

Latest Posts
  1. Justin Wilson has first ride of 2015 confirmed, back with Shank at Sebring

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:40 PM EST

    GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 1 Getty Images

    Justin Wilson returns to Michael Shank Racing for Sebring one-off.

  2. Manor Marussia F1 confirms trip to Melbourne

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:09 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS-PRACTICE Getty Images

    Manor Marussia F1 to make trip to Melbourne after all.

  3. Agag: Formula E off to “incredible start” heading into U.S. swing

    Mar 4, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

    Agag2 Getty Images

    FIA Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag outlines goals for upcoming two U.S. races, and recaps the first four thus far.

  4. Pirelli confirms tire choice for first four Grands Prix

    Mar 4, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Previews Getty Images

    Soft and medium the main choice for Pirelli in three of first four Grands Prix.

  5. Marciello confirms FP1 outing for Sauber in Malaysia

    Mar 4, 2015, 8:14 AM EST

    MarcielloAD1 Getty Images

    Raffaele Marciello set for Malaysia FP1 appearance at Sauber.

  6. PWC: 2015 driver/team rundown, GT, GTA, GT Cup

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    WC

    One to two sentence bullet point rundown on the PWC GT, GTA, GT Cup field heading into COTA and the 2015 season.

  7. Pippa Mann to serve as a Team Captain in Komen Central Indiana Race for the Cure

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Photo: Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Affiliate Photo: Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Affiliate

    Pippa’s Pink Posse to feature prominently in Komen Race for the Cure, for Central Indiana Affiliate.

  8. F1 2015 team preview: Mercedes

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    It’s the race to repeat in 2015, but will it be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg who takes the title?

  9. McLaren’s already difficult offseason unaided by its handling of Alonso story

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    McLaren-Honda Announces New Driver Line-Up For 2015 Getty Images

    Fernando Alonso’s accident in testing has raised way more questions than answers.

  10. Florida Power & Light signs onto Miami ePrix; Brabham enjoys demo run (PHOTOS)

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:51 AM EST

    Milwaukee IndyFest - Day 1 Getty Images

    Formula E partners with FPL for Miami ePrix; Matty Brabham does the demo runs.

  11. Rolling Stone partners with Tequila Patron ESM for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    PatronD24 AP

    Tequila Patron ESM, Rolling Stone come together for one-off outing at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  12. Susie Wolff will have at least two FP1 outings, Spain and Britain

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:53 AM EST

    Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice Getty Images

    Susie Wolff confirmed for Spain, Silverstone FP1 outings and another day in Austria.

  13. Fernando Alonso ruled out of Australian Grand Prix

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:54 AM EST

    Fernando Alonso AP

    Alonso ruled out of season opener, following medical advice.

  14. Mercedes F1: Race to Repeat: Teaser clips and preview (VIDEO)

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:31 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Three Getty Images

    Mercedes F1: Road to Repeat premieres this Thursday, March 5, at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  15. GP of NOLA weekend schedule announced

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:16 PM EST

    indynola

    Jam-packed schedule for inaugural GP of NOLA weekend.

  16. FIA WEC: Toyota Racing’s lead trio tackles Tokyo (VIDEO)

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Bahrain Getty Images

    Toyota Racing’s trio of Davidson, Buemi and Nakajima tour Tokyo.

  17. Indy 500 ticket reveal set for March 5

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    RHR’s image on Indianapolis 500 tickets to be unveiled on Thursday.

  18. PWC enters 2015 season with an overflow of riches in all classes

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    WC

    With 114 cars total and a manufacturer overload, things look promising for Pirelli World Challenge heading into 2015.

  19. F1, IndyCar seasons finally premiere in 2015’s version of March madness

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Mercedes Formula One driver Rosberg of Germany leads the pack at the start of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne Reuters

    F1 and IndyCar kick off; NHRA, sports cars and ladder series also have a busy month of March ahead.