[Source: Rising Star Racing press release]
Newgarden, Alberico, and Pigot join new Rising Star Racing program
Indianapolis — Rising Star Racing officials announced its inaugural class of drivers on Thursday at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis as Josef Newgarden, 22 of Hendersonville, Tenn., Neil Alberico, 21 of Los Gatos, Calif., and Spencer Pigot, 20, of Orlando, Fla., have been selected to represent Rising Star Racing beginning with the upcoming 2014 racing season.
The Rising Star Racing organization has an important mission in the world of motorsports – to help ensure that the most deserving drivers get the opportunities they have earned. Rising Star Racing subscribes to the ideal that world-class talent, hard work, dedication and desire should rise to the top in motorsports just as it does in other sports.
By providing funding, support and guidance for select young drivers, Rising Star Racing will help bridge the gap between talent and opportunity.
While having already risen to the top of the North American open-wheel racing ladder and reached the pinnacle of the sport with an impressive two years in IndyCar competition driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Newgarden will not only serve as an ambassador for Rising Star Racing, he will also play a key role in helping Pigot and Alberico prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for their own climb up the IndyCar ladder.
“It can be really challenging to move up in this sport,” said Newgarden. “When you are young and working so hard to make it happen, the stars have to align perfectly. I think that Rising Star Racing is going to help show that it is possible, and how it can happen. The driving is just one side of what we do. Having a skill set that allows you to be effective on the marketing and business side, that can be just as important as what you are capable of doing in the car. I was fortunate to have the help and advice that I did as I moved up, and it is important to me to try to provide that kind of help to Spencer and Neil, and whomever else that comes into this program. I want it to be successful for a very long time.”
Pigot and Alberico will both compete for the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title. Pigot is set to race his second season in Pro Mazda competition, having secured fourth place in last year’s championship with a victory and four podium finishes in his rookie campaign. Alberico will be making his rookie run in the Pro Mazda ranks, having finished the 2013 season as runner-up in the USF2000 championship on the strength of his series-high six wins and eight podium finishes.
Any racing program requires funding, and Rising Star Racing is no different. Providing the vision as well as the capital for the program is successful Indianapolis businessman Art Wilmes.
A lifelong fan of IndyCar, Wilmes’ understanding of the challenges that talented racers find on the way up the IndyCar ranks, as well as his natural business instincts, have been his guiding principles in establishing the program. “We are looking for drivers who are long on talent, but short on resources,” offered Wilmes. “Our goal is to provide talented young open wheel drivers with the support they need and allow their talent to win out. We want to help them get to IndyCar, the highest level for American open wheel racing. Our goal is to bootstrap a few hand-picked candidates, develop their business and professional image, and allow them to reach their potential. We will market our drivers as a package to attract funding from both B2C and B2B sponsors to make this a sustainable program that will continue to look for new drivers and growth in the future.”
Beyond working to advance the careers of its participating drivers, Rising Star Racing will also create opportunities for the drivers to build interest in the sport with a year-long community outreach program.
Visits to schools to promote the STEM initiative and how it relates to motorsports, safe driving schools, and charity functions will all be new opportunities to not only generate awareness for these issues and programs, but they will also provide the young and personable line up of Newgarden, Alberico, and Pigot to engage with the next generation of IndyCar fans and participants to further drive interest in the sport.
Rising Star Racing is managed by Brian Bonner, who has firsthand experience climbing the mountain to IndyCar, making his Indianapolis 500 debut as a driver in 1992 and has worked with Josef Newgarden since 2011 through his Bonner Race Marketing company.
“Feeding the top talent into IndyCar is a critical mission for the long term health of the sport, and Rising Star Racing is dedicated to that goal,” said Bonner. “Rising Star Racing is excited to have drivers who have shown the kind of talent that Josef, Neil, and Spencer possess as we know they are capable of bigger things in the future. But motorsports is a different business structure than most sports, and this program is an important new approach to address those realities.”
Bonner’s enthusiasm for what Rising Star Racing represents is shared by many in the industry.
“We are very pleased that Rising Star Racing will focus on identifying talent and helping to support their growth in the Mazda Road To Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Neil and Spencer are two very talented and deserving drivers. I think they are terrific choices and will represent the program well. We are excited about the future of the Mazda Road to Indy, and it is great to have others share that commitment.”
“It is fantastic news, because having driver development programs in place that offer opportunities to talented drivers is only going to benefit our sport,” said Jason Penix, Director of Development Series for IndyCar and Andersen Promotions. “Having a pipeline of talented American drivers complements the international base of drivers that we have and will help to make sure that we have the best drivers in the world competing in IndyCar and in the Indianapolis 500. Having a grassroots program like this is key to the long term future of the sport and I’m very happy to see people take such an interest in the future of our sport.”
2014 Rising Star Racing Drivers:
“I am really excited to join Rising Star Racing and I am really grateful for the opportunity,” said Alberico. “We are already testing for next year and I know how important any seat time is, and this will give us the chance to run for the Winterfest Championship in February. That will be such a big way to go into the Pro Mazda season, with six races in the car already under my belt so it is really important to me to not only have a good season in the car but I also want to learn as much as I can out of it as well.”
“It kind of came out of the blue, really, and I was so excited to get the call,” said Pigot about finding out he had been selected as part of the inaugural class. “Rising Star Racing is the kind of program we all dream about being involved with and I’m really looking forward to this season. Hopefully I can learn a lot to help me keep moving up in the sport. Pro Mazda will be very competitive again this year, and I’m just really happy to have the opportunity that I do.”
Rising Star Racing has already attracted commercial support from cornerstone partners Oakley and Swiftwick, who have both been long-time supporters of young talent.