Judging by the entry list for this weekend’s USF Pro Fall Combine Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course, interest in the newly rebranded USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires driver development ladder is at an all-time high. A total of 37 drivers representing 10 different nationalities will be in action October 22/23 on the 2.439-mile track for the traditional post-season test.
Competitors across USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires and USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires will have an opportunity to gain a head start on 2023 campaigns, during which a total of more than $1.3 million in prize money and awards will be up for offer between the two series to assist in drivers’ progression toward a potential future in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis 500.
New drivers test the waters in USF Pro 2000
The newly renamed USF Pro 2000 (formerly Indy Pro 2000) field boasts an intriguing mix of series veterans and rookies. Of those entered who competed this year, Kiko Porto was the highest finisher in seventh, claiming one win and a pair of podium finishes to round out his rookie campaign. Porto, 19, will test with DEForce Racing, with which he won the 2021 USF2000 championship. He will be joined by Bijoy Garg, who also has extensive experience in both USF2000 and USF Pro 2000.
The ninth through 12th-placed contenders, Jack William Miller, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, Jordan Missig and Jonathan Browne also will return to action this weekend.
Miller remains with his family-run Miller Vinatieri Motorsports team, and will be joined by fellow local driver Jackson Lee, who is making the step up from USF2000. Missig (Pabst Racing) and Browne (Turn 3 Motorsport) continue to test with their same teams from the 2022 season, while Sundaramoorthy has joined Exclusive Autosport this weekend, which guided Louis Foster to the championship title.
Notable newcomers include the second and third-place finishers in the 2022 USF2000 field, Pabst Racing teammates Myles Rowe and Jace Denmark. Both are seeking to gain their first experience in the faster USF Pro 2000 cars. Denmark will drive for Pabst Racing on Saturday before switching over to Exclusive Autosport for the second day.
Callum Voisin will gain his first taste of North America with Jay Howard Driver Development after winning a race at Donington Park last weekend and finishing fourth in his first season in the GB3 Championship. Voisin will be joined at JHDD by Francesco Pizzi, who placed second in the 2020 Italian Formula 4 Championship and competed this year in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, and Ricardo Escotto, who has raced in various European-based F4 series this season.
Another driver with F4 experience both in his native Brazil and Europe, Nicholas Monteiro, will pilot a solo entry for TJ Speed Motorsports, which has dominated the Formula Regional Americas Championship in each of the past two seasons and plans to make its official USF Pro Championships debut in 2023 after purchasing equipment from Juncos Hollinger Racing.
USF Juniors champion Clark steps up to USF2000
A huge field of 24 USF2000 cars is expected for the two-day test, representing eight different teams.
The honor of carrying No. 1 falls to 18-year-old Mac Clark, who won this year’s USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires crown driving for DEForce Racing, along with a scholarship valued at over $220,000 to make the step up into USF2000.
The Texas-based team has entered additional cars for George Garciarce, who claimed six top-10 finishes during his rookie season, and USF Juniors graduates Quinn Armstrong and Maxwell Jamieson.
After scoring a clear victory in the 2022 Team Championship, Pabst Racing will field cars for Simon Sikes, who has earned seven top-five finishes for different teams during a pair of partial season campaigns in 2021 and 2022, and Ayrton Houk, who last weekend clinched second place in the hotly contested Formula Race Promotions F1600 Championship Series.
VRD Racing will field no fewer than six Tatuus USF-22s for Sam Corry, Max Taylor, Nikita Johnson, brothers Noah and Zach Ping, and Matthew Rees.
Corry and Johnson finished second and third, respectively, in this year’s USF Juniors series. Johnson also earned a second-place finish at Portland International Raceway during a partial campaign in USF2000. Noah Ping, the older of the two brothers, has won a couple of F4 United States Championship races this season, while Rees won the 2021 British F4 Championship and was a race winner this year in GB3.
Current US F4 points leader Lochie Hughes heads Jay Howard Driver Development’s four-car entry along with Evagoras Papasavvas, Albert Morey IV and Louka St-Jean.
Jacob Douglas, who finished 12th in his rookie season of USF2000, will return for the two-day test with Exclusive Autosport alongside Chase Gardner, who made his debut at the IMS road course earlier this season, and newcomer Avery Towns.
Former karter Jason Pribyl will gain his first taste of a USF2000 car with Turn 3 Motorsport, while West Coast F4 and off-road racer Carson Etter will do likewise with the vastly experienced DC Autosport team.
In addition, Future Star Racing, overseen by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., will make its USF2000 debut after entering three cars for series veterans Andre Castro, Michael Myers and fellow Indy resident Elliot Cox, who will be making the step up from USF Juniors.
Both series will feature three hour-long sessions on Saturday and Sunday, October 22-23, starting each day at 8:00 a.m. ET. Live timing will be available on the respective series’ websites at usfpro2000.com and usf2000.com.