Budzinski, Ferguson and Schrage to wear Team USA purse colors
The Team USA Scholarship has confirmed this year’s three young American drivers who will represent their nation with the schedule of prestigious Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy events in England this fall. Elliott Budzinski (center, below), 20, of Ann Arbor, Michigan; William Ferguson (left), 18, of Pacifica, Calif.; and Thomas Schrage (right), 17, of Bethel, Ohio, were selected following an intense two-day shootout between six participants at the Polecat Training Center in Lynchburg, Tenn.
The trio will follow in the footsteps of an array of past winners, including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Jerry Nadeau, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Josef Newgarden and Connor De Phillippi by sporting the program’s distinctive red, white and blue livery during the training stage. of their careers.
Nadeau, who earned scholarships in 1993 and 1996, Lally (1999) and former scholarship winners Aaron Jeansonne (2017) and Bryce Aron (2020) were all present for the two-day shootout. They were joined on the judging panel by Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw, Polecat Training Center directors Paul Arnold, Keith Watts and JR Speight; Kelly Jones, owner of RaceCraft1 Motorsports Training; Dan Layton, Honda/Acura Public Relations Representative; author and RACER Marketing and Media Editor Steve Nickless; former racer Bernard Rhee; and Jim Leo of PitFit Training, who conducted a fitness seminar and assessment with the candidates.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the quality of pilots invited to participate in the shootout seems to be improving with each passing year,” Shaw said. “The level this time was incredibly high. The six finalists impressed our jury and we had the extremely difficult task of choosing between them. In the end, thanks to the budding enthusiasm of our loyal group of supporters, we were able to go beyond the original intention of selecting just two winners. I know I speak for our entire panel when I say all six have the skills to make their mark as they establish themselves on the motorsport ladder.
Alessandro De Tullio, 16, of Miami, Florida, Ayrton Houk, 19, of McCordsville, Indiana, and Colin Queen, 17, of Palm City, Florida, were also part of the selection process.
Budzinski, Ferguson and Schrage have already arrived in the UK to begin preparations for the Formula Ford Festival, which takes place at Brands Hatch on the weekend of October 22-23 and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 5-6. All three will drive identically prepared Ray Formula Ford cars under the Ammonite Motorsport (formerly Low Dempsey Racing) banner.
“I feel honored to represent the United States, and to be part of the ever-growing list of Team USA scholarship alumni is something really special,” said Budzinski, a former go-kart racer who has burst onto the motor racing scene by winning a Formula F title in the famous SCCA June Sprints at Road America earlier this summer. “This will be my first time away from home for more than a week at a time, so I see this as an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and soak up as much information as I can. possible thanks to the many years of experience and knowledge that will be at my disposal.
“I can’t thank Jeremy Shaw, the entire judging team and program partners enough for all the hard work they put in to make this happen every year.”
“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity,” added Ferguson, who finished a close second in the recently concluded Toyo Tires Formula 1600 Championship in Canada. “I think we have a very strong group of drivers and we will certainly challenge all Formula Ford veterans. Obviously the objective is to win, but apart from that there will be so much new information to assimilate.
“The racing will be brutal and I know I’ll learn a lot about riding, but I’ll also be spending six weeks in another country, so that’s very exciting in itself. Being surrounded by such talented and successful people, I hope to bring back new and better marketing ideas myself and take the next big step in my career, maintaining the recently strong momentum.
“It is such an honor to join the long list of successful drivers who have had this opportunity to further their careers,” said Schrage, who currently leads the FRP F1600 Championship Series by 31 points with three races remaining and has also recently won a Kenyon Midget series. racing at the high-grade oval Anderson Speedway in Indiana. “The trip to England will be an eye opener for me as I explore the world of Formula Ford racing. I expect a great experience on and off the track, gaining more racing connections and an incredible amount of racing time. seat during this adventure.
“My focus has shifted to building a brand for myself overseas as well as bringing home gear from iconic events I will be attending. Thanks to Jeremy Shaw, the entire panel of judges, sponsors, and everyone involved in making the Team USA Scholarship Program possible.