As the first team to commit to the inaugural Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda series, legacy team Group-A Racing took delivery of the first Ligier JS F4 chassis back in 2016. Since then, the New York-based team has kept its focus on developing young drivers, helping them graduate from karts to cars and onward to the next levels of racing.
Since the inaugural season, Group-A has fielded eight rookies and two veteran open-wheel drivers, earning several podiums and contingency awards. However, team manager and driver coach Jonathan Scarallo says that while podiums are always nice, they aren’t always a great tool in measuring success.
“Leaving the weekend without a trophy doesn’t mean a driver didn’t succeed. There are other ways to measure success,” Scarallo said. “Some of our drivers were inexperienced, starting out near the bottom in results; and by the next race, they moved to mid-pack. In F4 that could be a 15-position difference which is a huge accomplishment for a new driver.
“Our rookies have had massive gains over the course of a season, developing at an incredibly rapid rate.”
Group-A Racing also hosts cars in the Lucas Oil Formula Race Series, an arrive-and-drive spec series for drivers just learning open-wheel race craft.
“We’ve always had at least two drivers who weren’t ready for F4 in the Lucas Formula Race Series as part of our driver development program,” explained Scarallo. “Instead of just throwing them into F4, we take them there to get them very valuable race and seat time, preparing them for the next step. Coaching our drivers in the series speeds up the learning curve.
“We also provide driver management, helping drivers make the step up at the correct time and working with them on the marketing and funding side.”
The Lucas Oil School of Racing noticed Group-A’s operation efforts and selected the team as its premier open-wheel test team, utilizing the squad’s three decades of experience to host its champion in a one-day test.
“For the Lucas Oil School of Racing committee to choose us to be involved by hosting its series champion’s test is a tremendous privilege and compliment to our team,” said Scarallo. “We always look forward to having the series champion test with us. They have an opportunity to work with our lead engineer Alain Clarnival, who has decades of experience of winning races and championships in both ladder system and pinnacle motorsports.
“It’s also a great opportunity for that driver to experience the next level up in terms of horsepower and grip, while working with us in terms of feedback and car setup.
“We’re especially excited because this season the winner has the choice of an F4 scholarship as the championship prize,” Scarallo added.
The Lucas Oil Formula Race Series champion must decide between one of three grand prizes offered, including a scholarship valued at $50,000 to enter F4 U.S. in 2020. The champion will test in his or her choice of an F4 car or one of Group-A Racing’s other open-wheel seats (depending on the scholarship chosen) at MSR Houston.
In an effort to complete its two-car 2019 F4 U.S. lineup, the team has held a series of evaluations with prospective drivers for the upcoming season at its winter base in Texas.
“Our South African driver Cameron O’Connor wasn’t able to return for his sophomore season because travel started conflicting with school. This left both our seats open,” Scarallo explained. “We’ve secured new sponsorship, though, that has helped create more affordable driver packages without sacrificing performance or customer service.”
The fourth F4 U.S. season kicks off April 18-20 at Road Atlanta. For more information about the championship, visit F4USChampionship.com. For testing opportunities with Group-A Racing, contact Jonathan Scarallo at GroupARacing@aol.com.