2013 Pro Mazda/USF2000 awards banquet fetes future stars

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on October 11, 2013 11:16 am
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With the conclusion of the final rounds of the 2013 USF2000 and Pro Mazda seasons at the Grand Prix of Houston, the eyes of the Mazda Road to Indy inevitably swing towards next year and the inevitable search for sponsorship.

But on the final night of the year, Dan Andersen and his team at Andersen Promotions paused to host the 2013 Pro Mazda and USF2000 Awards Banquet at The St. Regis Hotel in Houston. IndyCar driver and Mazda Road to Indy graduate Tristan Vautier was on hand to help with awards presentations, and the champion drivers, teams, and mechanics for 2013 were crowned.

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2013 Pro Mazda Champion — Matthew Brabham, Andretti Autosport

There’s not much else to say about the season that Matthew Brabham had in 2013, shattering the series record for wins with 13, in addition to 13 fast laps in 16 races and 7 poles in 10 opportunities. Matthew also took home podium finishes in 15 of the 16 rounds on the year,with a lone outlier of a 9th at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Brabham actually clinched the win last month at Circuit Trois-Rivières.

Gracious as always, Brabham was quick to credit his crew.

“I’m over the moon,” Brabham said. “It’s been kind of soaking in since Trois-Rivières, and this weekend was kind of the cherry on the top. I just can’t thank the guys at Mazda and Andretti Autosport enough. Everybody at Andretti has just given me a wonderful, wonderful year.”

While Brabham himself was shy to heap praise on himself, series promoter Dan Andersen had no such issue.

“Matthew Brabham is the real deal,” Andersen gushed. “You just watch him drive, and he could be there. He could win Indy Lights next year. He is gonna be good in IndyCar or sports cars or whatever he wants to do.”

As he continues along the Mazda Road to Indy, Brabham was presented with a check for $636,200 by John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North America, as part of the scholarship program to allow Brabham to graduate to Indy Lights in 2014.

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2013 Pro Mazda Team Champion — Andretti Autosport

Buoyed by Matthew Brabham’s record-setting pace and the eye-opening form of Shelby Blackstock, the Andretti Autosport team cruised to the team title. AA captured 14 of 16 possible wins, 9 of 10 poles, and 22 podium positions.

Juncos Racing (Diego Ferreira, Scott Anderson, Jose Gutierrez, and Julia Ballario) and Team Pelfrey (Spencer Pigot, Nicolas Costa, Petri Suvanto, Anders Krohn, Dalton Kellett, Stefan Rzadzinski) took home second and third in the championship. Ferreira and Pigot were the only non-Andretti drivers to win this season.

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2013 Pro Mazda Mechanic of the Year — Fred Michael, Andretti Autosport

Pro Mazda Inaugural Hall of Fame Inductees — Joey Hand, Michael McDowell, Joel Miller, and Tristan Vautier

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2013 USF2000 Champion — Scott Hargrove, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing

Canadian Scott Hargrove won the championship with a combination of outright speed and consistency, pipping second place finisher Neil Alberico by 17 points. Hargrove took home four wins, four poles, and nine podiums. Alberico captured six wins, two poles, and eight podium finishes. The main deciding factor was Alberico having three finishes of 28th or worse, while Hargrove had a worst finish of 21st in the season finale, which came after the championship was already decided.

Dan Andersen used widespread praise for the entire USF2000 field to illustrate just how big Hargrove’s achievement was.

“USF2000 was unbelievably deep this year,” he said. “There were 15 guys that could win a race every time out, and it was fiercely fought. A little bit too much crash damage — the kids have no fear and lot of enthusiasm but a lot of talent as well.”

Hargrove’s confidence never wavered, though, despite the deep fields.

“I came into this year with the belief that we could do it, and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing gave me a car to
do it with all year,” he said. “Things just went our way, and we picked off wins early on and held onto the lead for the rest of the year, so I couldn’t be more stoked.”

Hargrove received a check for $383,700 from Doonan to assist with his graduation into the Pro Mazda Championship in 2014.

“Having the Mazda money behind me now is going to help a lot, and it’s really hard to find money right now,” Hargrove said. “When you get an opportunity like that, you really want to capitalize on it. That said, I would really like to win the championship next year. It’s a hard task, but you look at Matthew and he did it this year and did a phenomenal job all year. To have a year like he did this year would mean the world to me. We’ll go into it with open minds and try to capitalize on every opportunity that we can get.”

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2013 USF2000 Team Champion — Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing

Cape Motorsports/WTR took home the team championship yet again, this time in a landslide over second place Belardi Auto Racing. Fielding both Hargrove and Alberico left little in doubt as far as the team championship was concerned.

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2013 USF2000 Mechanic of the Year — Dave “Rotor” Lehman, Belardi Auto Racing

USF2000 Hall of Fame Inductee — Charlie Kimball

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