Preview: FR Americas and F4 U.S. Championship at NJMP

Gavin Baker Photography

Preview: FR Americas and F4 U.S. Championship at NJMP

North American Racing

Preview: FR Americas and F4 U.S. Championship at NJMP

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FR Americas & F4 U.S. enter second half of 2022 Season

The Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) and Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) head to New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) having just passed the halfway point of their 2022 season. Both championships will compete in rounds 10, 11 and 12, while visiting NJMP for the first time since 2018. This will mark the second time FR Americas visits the 2.25-mile circuit, and the third time F4 U.S. visits the course.

FR Americas and F4 U.S. will join the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) for an action-packed weekend at the New Jersey SpeedTour. Spectator gates will be open Friday through Sunday, with tickets available at the gate or online at NJMP.com/SpeedTour.

Is NJMP a “must win” weekend for champions?

Interestingly enough, any driver that has won more than one round during a NJMP race weekend in either FR Americas or F4 U.S. competition has gone on to win the championship the same year. In FR Americas, Kyle Kirkwood (2018) accomplished the feat, as did Cameron Das (2016) and Dakota Dickerson (2018) in F4 U.S. competition.

Tavella hoping for an advantage with NJMP experience

Dylan Tavella, driver of the No. 14 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3, enters the New Jersey SpeedTour weekend with something that none of his competitors have—experience. The 20-year-old will be the only driver in the FR Americas field that has previously competed at NJMP. Growing up just 160 miles away in Massapequa, N.Y., Tavella first visited NJMP at age six while racing go-karts. More recently, he was part of the F4 U.S. field when the series last competed on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Course in 2018. A rookie at the time, Tavella’s best finish that weekend was 14th.

New competition in the FR Americas field

Aaron Jeansonne will join Future Star Racing to make his FR Americas debut in the No. 25 Future Star Racing Ligier JS F3 at NJMP. The Louisiana native will fill in for series regular Mac Clark, who has a scheduling conflict this weekend. Jeansonne, a 2017 Team USA Scholarship Winner and the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout Winner, most recently raced in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Series. To make the weekend extra memorable, Jeansonne will celebrate his 24th birthday on Sunday, July 31.

School’s out for summer!

Several FR Americas drivers are working to pursue both their education and racing career. Pulling a special kind of double duty, the load lightens a bit during the summer months as students enjoy breaks and prepare to begin new adventures. After recent high school graduations, four drivers will be headed off for their freshman year of college this fall. Cooper Becklin (No. 91 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) will attend Clackamas Community College, where he earned a track and field scholarship to compete in the high jump next spring. Rodrigo Gutiérrez (No. 10 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F3) will attend University of South Florida to study business. TJ Speed Motorsports’ Nick Persing (No. 29 OPI Commercial Builders Ligier JS F3) is headed to Boise State University to work toward a business degree. Meanwhile, Athreya Ramanan (No. 96 Cedar Coast / Outland Living / Lordco / Jevity / Penn-Elcomm / LA Prep / Kirby Studio Ligier JS F3) will begin his studies in engineering and business at Purdue University.

Super Formula Scholarship on the line in championship battle

With a Super Formula scholarship on the line from Honda Performance Development and Honda Motor Co. Motorsports Division, the championship battle is in full-swing with only half the season remaining. Raoul Hyman (No. 27 Bethesda Holdings Limited / Solomon Capital Enterprises / Oaklands / Kinross Ligier JS F3) currently leads the charge having amassed 201 points with six victories and nine podiums, including three wins in the series’ most recent outing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dylan Tavella sits second, 58 points behind the leader. Hyman’s TJ Speed Motorsports teammate, Jason Alder (No. 77 Drive for Diabetes Awareness / HAKUN Ligier JS F3), is 83 points back in third. A full list of the 2022 Driver Points Championship standings is available, here.

Focused on NJMP

NJMP will be a new challenge for nearly every driver in the F4 U.S. field. That is, everyone except Matt Christensen (No. 45 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4) and Bryson Morris (No. 39 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4). Morris was NJMP’s most recent visitor in July 2021 with the Lucas Oil School of Racing, but his experience lies on NJMP’s Lightning Course. Regardless, with a pole and two race wins, the driver enters the weekend with extra confidence having already been atop the podium at NJMP. Two years have passed since Christensen visited NJMP with the Lucas Oil School of Racing. While that may seem like a long time, the driver has something no one else has—laps—and a win—on the Thunderbolt Course.

A new name & old friends join F4 U.S. to race at NJMP

Earl Tucker, a 23-year-old from Branford, Conn., will make his F4 U.S. debut this weekend at NJMP while driving the No. 5 Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD) / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4. Also racing under the JHDD umbrella will be Louka St-Jean. St-Jean returns to the seat of the No. 98 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil /Pelican Ligier JS F4 after missing last month’s events at Mid-Ohio. The Canadian is still searching for his first podium of the season, and currently holds a season-best finish of fifth at Road America. Also rejoining the series is Jack Zheng. Zheng competed in the F4 U.S. season opener at NOLA Motorsports Park where he recorded a best finish of 19th. Returning under the Doran-Kroll Competition banner, the New Yorker will pilot the No. 19 Ligier JS F4.

Racing to give back

Tyke Durst (No. 17 Gonella Racing Ligier JS F4) has been driving toward a cure all year—that is, the 19-year-old has been looking to raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease through his partnership with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Drive Toward a Cure. The organization utilizes the traditional road rally format to create camaraderie and raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease. Drive Toward a Cure is currently in the midst of their “75 Days of Summer” campaign, which invites people across the country to get out and drive while raising funds for Parkinson’s Disease research and patient care.

“While I don’t have a personal connection to someone suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, I find it really rewarding to give back to people and this is one way I can do that,” said Durst. “I love going out in the community, meeting new people and using my racing to raise awareness and make a difference.”

Kickin’ back on summer break

As the summer winds down, life will soon get hectic again for most of the F4 U.S. field. Of the 19 drivers competing this weekend, 13 will be headed back to school within just a few short weeks. Headed back to high school are seniors Maddie Aust (No. 09 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4), Carl Bennett (No. 9 Gonella Racing Ligier JS F4), Michael Boyiadzis (No. 3 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4), Matt Christensen, Artie Flores (No. 22 Gonella Racing / Flexi Ligier JS F4), and Ryan Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4). Juniors Alex Berg (No. 08 Doran-Kroll Competition Ligier JS F4) and Al Morey IV (No. 7 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4) will also head back this fall, as will sophomore Louka St-Jean. Meanwhile, Tyke Durst will enter his freshman year at the University of North Carolina Charlotte to study Mechanical Engineering, and Oliver Westling (No. 2 Jensen Global Advisors Ligier JS F4) will return to California State University, Chico for his sophomore year studying Business Entrepreneurship.

Two drivers not headed back to school this fall are Seth Brown (No. 4 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4) and Jack Zheng. Brown graduated in June from Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, while Zheng is set to earn his bachelor’s degree in business management from New York University on August 17.

Drivers battling for a FR Americas scholarship

F4 U.S. drivers are racing for more than just a trophy this year, as the 2022 F4 U.S. champion will be granted a scholarship to compete in FR Americas in 2023. With the season half complete, it’s been a tight race so far. Only 25 points separate the top four drivers in the standings, with each of them having earned two victories this season. Lochie Hughes (No. 6 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4), Bryson Morris and Noah Ping (No. 65 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4) all earned their second victory of the season while at Mid-Ohio last month, which tightened the battle between them and the other two-time winner in 2022, Matt Christensen. A full rundown of the 2022 Driver Points Championship standings is available, here.

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