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
Mazda North American Operations
Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, California, and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at InsideMazda.MazdaUSA.com/Newsroom.
Follow MNAO’s social media channels through Twitter and Instagram at @MazdaUSA and Facebook at Facebook.com/MazdaUSA.
It's time to dole out the 'Star of the Race' honors for the #IndyTO! I'll kick things off with USF2000 Series Race 1 and that nod goes to Dakota Dickerson Racing from ArmsUp Motorsports.
The San Diego, CA resident has worked non-stop on his career since his first season in the MRTI in 2016, and it's good to have him back. Dakota has connected with ArmsUp engineer John Walko and the team is now fighting for podiums and wins.
Dakota had a great outing in TO and rewarded Gregg Borland and Brent Borland for providing him with the opportunity with a second place finish.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the great success of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system created by Tony George, Jr. and Jason Penix. While much emphasis is placed on the graduation of drivers from one series to the next, they’re not the only ones picking up skills and looking to advance into the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Drivers move up from karts or small formula cars such as the 1600cc Skip Barber machines into the USF2000 National Championship. From there, they step up to a higher-horsepower, more aerodynamic sensitive Star Mazda machine, and then into the 450hp, 190+ mph Firestone Indy Lights racers. A number of drivers have already demonstrated how successfully each of these series have prepared them for the next level of competition.
We need only to look at former Star Mazda champion, and Indy Lights driver Conor Daly and his first win in the highly competitive GP3 series. The IZOD IndyCar Series is now replete with graduates from these junior formula series, with the notable standouts being James Hinchcliffe, and former Indy Lights champions JR Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden.
Seldom given any airtime and recognition in the press, many of the mechanics and engineers in USF2000, Star Mazda, and Indy Lights are also seeking to move up the ladder and one day find themselves on the grid on Race Day morning as a participant in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
For one young engineer, that dream will be realized this month as Star Mazda Quality Control Engineer Kate Gundlach, a mechanical engineer graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, will join forces with Simona de Silvestro at HVM Racing beginning with this year’s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race as the teams Data and Electronics Engineer.
“I worked with HVM during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend and was very pleased when they offered me the DAG position on Simona’s car. I was very impressed with Simona and the HVM team, with their level of professionalism and presentation. It’s a huge change, moving from working for a series to working for a team, but the professional – and personal – education I received while working for the Star Mazda Championship has prepared me to hit the ground running in IndyCar and be confident that I can contribute to Lotus HVM Racing’s success.”
— Kate Gundlach, #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus/Dallara HVM Racing Data and Electrical Engineer
It’s fantastic to see the graduation of professionals of all kinds through the Mazda Road to Indy program. It benefits the teams at the higher levels by creating a pool of experienced and seasoned engineers and mechanics from which to recruit. It also benefits the teams at the lower levels by providing a clear and tangible avenue for career advancement beyond the initial job for which they were hired. Successful recruiting of the best talent means first having the ability to provide them with a dynamic career environment.
Ms. Gundlach’s example should be a ray of hope and a model for young aspiring race engineers.
Here you can find out about our developments and experiences in coaching and engineering