Australian Formula Ford series winner Hunter McElrea has won the 2018 Mazda Road To Indy Shootout bagging a US $200,000 scholarship fund in the process.
The Gold Coast-based New Zealander is the first Australian Formula Ford driver to win the prize and directly graduate from the category to USF2000 next year courtesy of the scholarship from Mazda Motorsports.
A group of 19 drivers chosen from a variety of Official Feeder Series from around the world were put through their paces at Phoenix's Bondurant Racing School last weekend.
The drivers took part in an intense two-day shootout, which included continual off-track assessment and four on-track sessions aboard the Bondurant School Formula Mazda cars on Cooper tires at the Wild Horse Pass MotorSports Park road course.
The 19-year-old had starred in Formula Ford this year winning 13 race wins.
“I can't believe it,” said McElrea.
“This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career.
“I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me.
“The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.
“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach.
“It is still sinking in but I just can't wait to get next year started, and I'll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”
Australian Formula Ford category administrator Phil Marrinon is proud to see the category provide a pathway to America for aspiring racers.
“We are massively proud of Hunter and what he has achieved this year,” said Marrinon.
“Our category as a whole would like to thank Andersen Promotions and the Mazda Road To Indy for supporting our National Series, and we are proud to provide them with a driver as fast and professional as Hunter.
“I am sure the Soul-Red USF2000 car will be at the front next season.”