from the Mazda Newsletter. The Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI) is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (June 25, 2018) – As the Mazda Road to Indy made its annual pilgrimage to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America circuit, most of the teams loaded their transporters earlier this week with a long drive ahead of them. However, for Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda team ArmsUp Motorsports, it’s a 14-minute drive on the familiar State Road 23 and 67 before pulling through the front gates at the 63-year-old facility.
Started in 1998 by Gregg Borland, The Sheboygan Falls-based team began fielding cars in junior open-wheel racing and has now developed into a premier team on the Mazda Road to Indy, with a short but rich history of competitive cars and drivers.
“I worked in Skip Barber for many years. I did driver coaching and teaching, then test driving for them,” said Borland, team owner of ArmsUp Motorsports. “We had a Formula Continental car and it was fun, we did probably six or seven events a year. One of my friends from Skip Barber decided to buy a Formula Continental [as well], so we bought the car and started running him and we still had the rental car. The next thing you know, he’s out telling his buddies and another guy came along and before I knew it, we had four or five Formula Continental cars and that was basically the start of the whole thing.”
Over the past five seasons, ArmsUp has fielded talented drivers associated with the Mazda Scholarship. In 2014, Birchwood, Wisconsin’s Aaron Telitz captured his first Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires victory at Lucas Oil Raceway with Borland and the team before going on to with the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship with Team Pelfrey and graduating to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
“ArmsUp is awesome!” exclaimed Telitz. “They really want to work with their drivers. John Walko, their engineer, is very hands on and knows how to communicate with drivers really well… It’s such a fun family atmosphere. It’s a great team to learn from and have fun, and I got my first win with them on the Mazda Road to Indy, so their cars are quick too.”
In 2016, Brazilian Indy Lights driver Franzoni made the switch to ArmsUp after consecutive seasons with a rival team in USF2000. His three race wins, two pole positions and third-place finish in the championship with ArmsUp positioned him for a ride in the Pro Mazda Championship with Juncos Racing. Franzoni would go onto win the series championship and guarantee his spot in Indy Lights with the Mazda Scholarship Award.
“For me, they were a huge help. I was in a year where I didn’t have anything and I didn’t know if I was racing or not and they gave me the opportunity to race,” Franzoni described. “It was amazing, we had a great year together, we won three races and we were fighting for the championship until the last race. They did a great job when I was there and they did a great job when Telitz was there. They are great friends of mine and are part of my success.”
The team’s 20-year history of competition is impressive in its own right, but Borland will tell you there’s something more special in the fabric of the family operation.
“We’re determined and serious about winning races, but you got to keep it light. That’s what I enjoy about it, the personalities of the drivers really come out because the personality of the rest of the team is out there and it’s enjoyable…I’ve seen so many kids come out of karting and they’ve been racing for eight or ten years and it’s almost like it is not fun for them anymore. I’d like to see them lighten up a little bit, so we work really hard to get the driver’s personality out and into the program. It makes it fun.”
This weekend, ArmsUp welcomed back the 2016 Mazda Scholarship Driver, Dakota Dickerson and added Max Peichel to the team. Dickerson would lead the team with a best finish of ninth-place in Race 2. As for former drivers Telitz and Franzoni, Telitz would finish third in his home race while the 22-year-old Brazilian Franzoni would capture his first Indy Lights win, dedicating the win to Jeff Green, his former Pro Mazda teammate, who tragically lost his life last weekend in an auto racing accident in Canada.
As the post-race ceremonies ensued, the former ArmsUp drivers congratulated each other on their hard-fought performances, something fans of the Mazda Road to Indy could potentially see from the drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the future.
Before all three Mazda Road To Indy series head to the streets of Toronto, July 13-15, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will compete on its second oval of the season at Iowa Speedway, July 7-8.
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI) is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook
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JWR's Kate Gundlach Honored as Star Mazda Crew Member of the Year Zartarian Scores Top Five at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRAFFORD, PA (October 29, 2007) -- The 2007 Star Mazda Series closer at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a successful effort for the John Walko Racing team both on and off the track with a top five finish, two top tens and a highly coveted year end award for crew member Kate Gundlach.
Gundlach, JWR's data acquisition engineer for all three entries, was awarded the Performance Friction Crew Member of the Year Award at the season ending awards banquet, a consensus award for the most valuable member of a particular team whose efforts have also benefited other teams and the series. For team owner John Walko, it was a much deserved award for an integral member of the team.
"We had a very good race weekend but the high point had to be Kate winning the Star Mazda Crew Member of the Year Award. It was a total surprise to everyone so it was very exciting for the team as well as Kate. This award is particular significant I think as it is voted on by peers and then the final decision is made by Star Mazda management. To even be considered for the award, let alone win it, requires impressing a lot of people along the way."
The award was also particularly important in that Kate is truly a homegrown talent. Like Walko, she is a Pittsburgh native with family ties to the local racing community. Her first professional work though was as an intern with JWR while working toward her mechanical engineering degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Along the way she has parlayed the opportunity in to a full time career that also involves the roles of team parts manager, test engineer and soon race engineer of the team's third car.
"I am proud of what Kate has accomplished. She came to the team with the raw tools and has developed in to an integral part of our organization. Kate is the second member of the team to have earned the Star Mazda Crew Member of the year award along with Caleb Stream. Developing talent outside of the car as well as inside is very important to our team and something we take considerable pride in."
Kate echoed the sentiments of her team owner regarding the team's approach.
"Winning this award was a big surprise to me! I have to thank John and the whole crew; they are responsible for developing me to where I am today and deserve the credit for this award. >From John to engineers Steve (Dreizler) and Eric (Langbein) to mechanics Caleb and Scott (Gates) each has invested time in helping me develop as part of this team. Their commitment to the overall team is what makes this group successful. I also have to thank John Walko Sr. and drivers Charles (Anti) and Russell (Walker) as well as their families. It has been a very rewarding experience working with everyone associated with John Walko Racing."
Of course the trip to Monterey, California involved more than the awards banquet as the team returned to a three car effort with Californian John Zartarian behind the wheel of the third car for the first time since the second round in Houston. Zartarian lead the way with a fifth place finish followed by Russell Walker in tenth.
According to Walko, the return to a three car effort always seems to provide an extra spark for the team.
"As usual the team works better with three cars, things were automatic, the atmosphere was more upbeat, everybody was doing their normal jobs and everything worked great. In all it was a pretty good weekend."
"Johnny did a great job, for only driving the car twice this year and to finish top five in this field is an accomplishment. He was actually second in one of the early sessions and that always helps to get all the cars moving forward. Russell had a good race as well, picking off some spots in the race and running a smart, clean race"
Both drivers found speed early, netting second fastest laps in different practice sessions. JWR's other full time entry Charles Anti had an uphill battle at times but was very fast on race day.
"Russell followed John's lead, setting the second fastest lap in the following session, and stayed in the top ten almost all weekend. Charles had a slow start on the weekend but moved up some spots early in the race and was running very quick laps. He was just all by himself after going off in turn five so his results didn't actually reflect how competitive he was in the race.
The team now moves in to the off season but does not plan on resting for long. Testing has already begun at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex with more dates being added to the schedule soon. There are also ongoing discussions about racing in the Star Mazda Winter Series that begins in November at Buttonwillow in California followed by dates at Firebird Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway in December and January respectively.
Drivers interested in testing or discussing racing plans for the Winter Series or the 2008 season should contact John Walko Racing as soon as possible.
It was a great weekend overall, I was really happy with a fifth particularly after our qualifying run. We picked up a few spots and hit my goal of a top five finish. All in all I was really happy with the way the race went but honestly thought I could have podiumed if it had stayed green. I have to thank John and the crew for a great weekend again."
"It was good to have a solid run at Laguna Seca to close out the season. We were quick early in practice and stayed close to the top ten all weekend. We missed a little in qualifying but I was able to drive back to tenth in the race. I was as fast as the cars directly in front of me but with the yellows near the end of the race, I never had a chance to move up any farther. I'd like to thank the team for this season; it was great to work with this crew for an entire year."
"Unfortunately we didn't end the season on a high note, finishing outside the top twenty, but we had a very fast race car that was able to run times as fast as the leaders as the laps wore down. At that point I was a lap down though after an off in to the gravel trap and was too far back to make up the ground to challenge for position. I learned a lot this year and had some great runs. I want to thank John and the team for a good season."
John Walko, Engineer for John Zartarian
"Johnny did a great job all weekend. He was second quickest in practice in just his second time behind the wheel of our car all year. To be able to hold his own, let alone compete with this field is an accomplishment in itself. With a few more laps of green flag racing he could have been looking at a podium finish. Hopefully we are able to work with John more in the future as he has the talent to compete and win in this series."
Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker
"We started the season with a goal of top ten in points and Russell did exactly what he needed to do to make sure we met those goals at Laguna Seca. He picked up five spots in the race and looked to have the speed to pick up more. Rather than taking unnecessary chances in the closing laps of the race though he showed the maturity to stay focused on the goal and finished with a tenth in the race and the Championship."
Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti
"We didn't get up to speed as quickly as we needed to be which put Charles in the slow group in qualifying. Unfortunately that played a big role as the first qualifying group had a wet track to deal with and ended up drying the track for the fast group. Charles was considerably faster than anyone else in the first group but still a second and a half behind the slowest car in the second group. In the race we were as fast as the leaders but a lap down so the end result didn't reflect how good of a car we had."
TRAFFORD, PA (October 2, 2006) – With a recent private test under their belts at Road Atlanta, the John Walko Racing team looked forward to the eleventh race of the season as part of the Petit Le Mans event in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series. The anticipation was rewarded with another pair of top ten finishes and a firm grasp on the Team Championship.
"Coming down early for the test was a huge help for me getting comfortable here," noted Russell Walker. "It was a great weekend if you take out the one lap in the final practice. The car felt great from the opening practice and just kept getting better."
Road Atlanta proved to be a breakout event for Walker although the results didn't truly reflect his speed on the 2.54 mile circuit. The Dallas, Texas racer started practice seventh on the charts and moved up to second quick by the final practice before misfortune struck as team owner John Walko explained.
"Russell was amazing! We had a good setup on the car and when he showed up he was awesome from the time he got there. He had a problem with turn one though late in the final practice, caught the curb and backed in to the wall hard. This was after setting the second quick time of the final session."
The car was damaged too badly to repair in time for qualifying. According to Walko the team was confident enough in their young driver though to secure another car despite having to qualify without ever turning a lap in the car previously.
"We rented a car from another team and Russell spent qualifying in the rain getting comfortable with the car. In the race though he was back! It was like he was in the last practice session, running competitive times and passing cars every lap in to turn one. It was fun to watch."
Walker qualified 23rd after just a handful of laps in qualifying but rebounded nicely under the circumstances.
"The race was slow going thanks to starting so deep in the field but I was able to work up to eighth picking up a position or two almost every lap. It was still a very good weekend though and I look forward to getting back on track at Laguna Seca for the season closer."
Kevin Lacroix, currently second in points, also benefited from the testing which resulted in his leading the opening practice. After that point though, Lacroix was forced to battle with an underpowered race car. A situation that the team rectified before the final practice as Walko noted.
"The engines haven't been that consistent. At Road America and Mosport we had a really good handling car but just didn't have the lap times. Our other cars have been killing Kevin on the straight despite not carrying as much exit speed. We finally decided to put a new engine in and it made a big difference as we led that practice. The car was a whole lot better."
In the race Lacroix moved in to the top three early and held on to the spot for his first podium finish since Portland, a result good enough to clinch the 2006 Star Mazda Rookie of the Year title.
"We swapped the engine for the race and, although it was still tight, it was much more powerful. I overtook two positions on the first lap and was looking to take the lead but could not find any room," Lacroix stated. "That was my season, staying out of trouble and carving my way up in the standings instead of taking chances. I still have one left in Laguna, the track where I was most successful last year in BMW. With a healthy car, I will give my best shot to finish my season with a flash!"
Charles Anti was the lone driver of the JWR trio that was unable to attend the Road Atlanta test. Despite a bigger learning curve at the start of the event, Anti found himself right back in the top ten just a few laps in to the race. Unfortunately for Anti though his day ended early with a rare mechanical DNF.
"I never really felt up to speed all weekend until the rains came for qualifying. I thought that would be the equalizer for me, and it was, up until the track started to dry out. We slipped a little further down the charts each lap it seemed as it dried. I was in the top ten early in the race though, hoping to capitalize on other's mistakes as the race progressed. A hole in an oil line developed though and sidelined us early."
The team now moves on to Laguna Seca where they not only look to clinch the Star Mazda Team Championship but hope to secure that elusive first win.
"This past race gave us a huge jump in the points. We have the biggest lead in the Championship that we have had all season," noted Walko. "So I'm looking forward to Laguna Seca to see if we can win the Team Championship in our first season. It should be a good weekend as all three drivers have experience there and they all really like the track. We are all looking forward to this race!"
The twelfth and final race of the 2006 Star Mazda Championship Series takes place at Laguna Seca on October 21-22.
Road Atlanta Results:
1 Ron White
2 Mark Wilkins
3 Kevin Lacroix
8 Russell Walker
27 Charles Anti
Star Mazda Driver Championship:
1 Adrian Carrio 395
2 Kevin Lacroix 360
3 Ryan Justice 322
14 Charles Anti 211
15 Russell Walker 210
Star Mazda Team Championship:
1 John Walko Racing 223
2 World Speed 208
3 Northwest Autosport 159
4 Apex Racing 154
5 Andersen Racing 154
PITTSBURGH, PA (WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14) -- Pittsburgh-area team owner, John Walko, has announced the re-formation of his race team, John Walko Racing, following a three-year involvement with the Andersen Walko Racing program. The team will contest the entire 2006 Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, and will be run out of a new shop in Trafford, Pennsylvania, just east of Pittsburgh.
"We are excited about our move to a more modern and efficient facility and are extremely pleased to announce that we have been able to keep our crew intact," Walko said. "This is the same group of engineers, mechanics, and support staff that has helped us achieve so much success over the last few seasons. We feel great about the team's chemistry and are encouraged to see it continue with the renewed John Walko Racing effort."
Last season in the 2005 Star Mazda championship, Andersen Walko Racing drivers Robbie Pecorari, Graham Rahal, Pablo Donoso and Jonathan Klein amassed four wins, four poles and 17 podium finishes. Pecorari finished second in points and won Rookie of the Year. Rahal completed the season 4th in the championship series with Donoso and Klein finishing 9th and 13th respectively.
Returning to John Walko Racing as race engineers are Steve Dreizler and Eric Langbein. Lead mechanics Scott Gates, Sebastien Jubelin, 2004 Zetec "Mechanic of the Year" winner, and Caleb Stream, 2002 Zetec "Mechanic of the Year" and 2005 Star Mazda "Crew Member of the Year" will also continue with the team. Other returning crewmembers include Kate Gundlach, data acquisition and parts, Ray Riggin, transporter driver and logistics, Russ Sant, fabricator, mechanic, and logistics, and Staci Walko, business manager.
Walko started driving in SCCA Club Formula Ford in 1994 before opening his own prep-shop in the mid-1990s. Since 1999, as a crew chief and engineer in SCCA Formula Ford, Formula Continental, Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship and Star Mazda, his drivers have amassed 11 pro and 22 amateur wins, 37 pro and 12 amateur podiums, and 13 pro and 17 amateur poles. His drivers finished runner up in points in both the Star Mazda and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championships, and have won the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs a total of four times. In addition, Walko's cars have also posted 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the Runoffs. Walko received "Crew Chief of the Year" and "Engineer of the Year" awards in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship.
Past drivers that Walko has been affiliated with include IRL IndyCar Series competitor Paul Dana, Star Mazda race winner Graham Rahal (son of three-time CART Champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal), 2005 Star Mazda Rookie of the Year and race winner Robbie Pecorari, American Le Mans Series driver Guy Cosmo, Grand-Am Cup driver and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner Adam Pecorari, Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner and championship runner-up Andrew Prendeville, and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner and NASCAR Elite Division SW Tour stock car competitor Tom Dyer.
For 2006, John Walko Racing is currently in negotiations with one driver for the 2006 season and is actively seeking two additional drivers for a three-car effort.
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Oct. 8 - Dan Andersen and John Walko of Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) announced today that they will devote all of their pro race team's efforts on the Star Mazda series presented by Goodyear in 2005.
The team will also continue to operate its SCCA Club Racing program.
"We'll be leaving the Cooper Tire championships, both the Formula Ford 2000 and the Formula SCCA classes, in order to devote our efforts to Star Mazda next year," explained Andersen, who owns the team with Walko.
"After running three cars in Formula Ford 2000, three cars in Formula SCCA and three cars in SCCA Club Racing this year, we added two Star Mazda cars and joined that championship in June," he added. "We are extremely impressed with the Star Mazda series' organization, administration and full fields of quality drivers. When you add all of that to the series' large prize fund, SPEED TV package, great IMSA/ALMS schedule and a truly great new race car, we realized that Star Mazda is the place for us next year."
AWR won the 2004 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec team championship with seven victories and 15 podium finishes. Its two lead drivers, Andrew Prendeville and Adam Pecorari, finished second and third, respectively, in the drivers' point standings in that series. Walko won its Crew Chief of the Year award, while AWR's Seb Jublien earned the series' Mechanic of the Year award for 2004.
Top rookie driver Jonathan Klein has been representing the team in Star Mazda this year and will compete in the series' season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 16. Another top AWR rookie, Robbie Pecorari (Adam's brother), will also drive an AWR entry in that race.
Always a championship contender, AWR will begin testing in November for the new Star Mazda season.
"We've already arranged test dates at Sebring, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Pikes Peak, Road America, Beaverun and Carolina Motorsports Park," Andersen said. "We will not only be testing our cars but we'll also be testing drivers for the upcoming Star Mazda season, and we hope to announce our pro driver line-up soon."
"The Star Mazda series is extremely competitive, and we're looking forward to focusing our efforts on it next year," added Walko. "We're also excited about our plan to move our shop to a more modern facility nearer to our home track, Beaverun, which is near Pittsburgh."
Andersen Walko Racing's offices are in Fairfield, N.J. and its race shop is currently in North Versailles, Pa.
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