A Simple Phone Call - Team USA Scholarship Blog

Oliver Askew Team USA ScholarshipOliver Askew documents his chase to join Team USA!

“Sometimes a life-changing opportunity begins with a simple phone call, and that’s how I began my relationship with Jeremy Shaw, founder of the Team USA Scholarship. I had noticed the Team USA Scholarship’s presence on social media, which led me to their website teamusascholarship.org and an incredibly long list of former scholarship winners who are professional racers today. With the writing literally on the wall, I knew it was a program I had to pursue.”

With some international formula car experience under my belt, I added a Skip Barber national race weekend to my resume and again reached out to Jeremy for direction. What I received was an invitation to the Team USA Scholarship interviews at the Cooper Tire MRTI/Verizon Indy Car race weekend at Mid-Ohio, and I couldn’t have been more excited.

It was a weekend I don’t expect to forget. Jeremy treated the twelve nominees to pit passes and exclusive access to everything MRTI and Indy-Car! During the day on Friday, we were all introduced to many of the most knowledgeable and well known individuals like Mike Hull, MD of Chip Ganassi Racing, and Mark Miles, CEO of Indy Car. We were even given a chance to listen in to some of the Indycar radios from the pit wall during practice.

That night we congregated at the MRTI hospitality trailer for a catered dinner and were joined by the likes of Bryan Herta, Spencer Pigot, Joel Miller, Patrick Long, Dan Andersen, Derek Daly, Derrick Walker, Aaron Telitz, Austin Cindric, and Josef Newgarden, to name a few. After dinner the nominees waited and took turns being interviewed about our experience and ambitions. During the wait Kelly Jones from racecraft1.com spoke to us about creating the right image as a professional driver and the importance of race simulation. I somehow maintained my composure for the duration of the interview while fielding questions in front of some of the most important people in open-wheel racing. Honestly, I think we were all somewhat star-struck.

In the end we were told that six finalists would be selected after the interviews to compete in a shootout put on by the Lucas Oil School of Racing, courtesy of Cooper Tires.

A few weeks after Mid-Ohio I received awesome news from Jeremy; an invitation to the Team USA Shootout at Palm Beach International Raceway! It would be similar to the first competition, only this time we get to do our talking on the track.

PBIR is very close to where I live, so while I was quite happy about that the truth is that I’d never been around the car track. So, in order to prepare myself as much as possible for the competition I headed down to Miami to see Jeff Segal gpxlab.com where I could drive PBIR on a brand new racing simulator with complete data analysis and coaching.

For the shootout more judges came out to support the Team USA Scholarship, and again they all had very well-known and respected names, including Todd Snyder, Johnny Unser, Tristan Nunez, Lawson Aschenbach, Peter Baron, RC Enerson, Jonatan Jorge, Gerardo Bonilla, Nicholas Cape, and last but certainly not least Indy 500 Champion Gil de Ferran.

The day started with a briefing, which explained the activities in the schedule to everyone along with an intro to marketing with Chris Pantani, marketing director for Cooper Tires. Followed by a very helpful video about attaining sponsorship from Brian Sims https://thesponsorshipbusiness.com/

We were given three 20-minute sessions on track, one practice, one qualifying, and one mock race stint which is meant to show the judges how consistent each of us are during a 20-minute race. After each session, data expert and coach Gerardo Bonilla analyzed data with each of us. We then individually spoke to the judges who during the day were standing at every corner around the track taking splits. This was great because each judge was able critique our style of driving and at the end of the day we’d all made huge strides.

The Lucas Oil Racing School cars were extremely fun to drive. The fastest way around the track was to float the car around the corners, which Cooper Tire’s brand new “RS3-G1” tire made possible. The RS3-G1 felt very durable and consistent after 20 minutes of hard driving even when our Florida sun started to melt the track. http://us.coopertire.com/Tires/Passenger/ZEON-RS3-G1.aspx

Directly after the final session on track, we were all evaluated by Jim Leo from http://pitfit.com Jim set up a series of exercises commonly used by professional drivers. After 30 minutes of non-stop training, we were worn out, but we learned some valuable lessons on how to properly train certain muscles needed to drive a race car.

Finally, we were all sat down in the one last briefing. After exchanging thoughts and looking over final pieces of data, drivers said their individual goodbyes and thanks.

Two contestants will be chosen from the six who competed at the shootout to travel to England to race in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy.

Jeremy Shaw has put an incredible amount of time and effort into running a very detailed selection process. I have learned allot and I cannot thank him enough. I would also like to thank everyone who has taken the time to judge the contestants for Team USA, and all of the sponsors that help put Team USA together every year. Furthermore, a massive thanks to all of my supporters who have helped me get to where I am today, I would not be here without you.


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