Star Mazda champion Tristan Vautier graduates to Indy Lights season

WITH SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING FROM THE MAZDA ROAD TO INDY

With scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy, Tristan Vautier - winner of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- will move up to Indy Lights for the 2012 season with the twice-defending champion team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, in the team's No. 77 car.

Vautier stormed to the 2011 Star Mazda title with four victories and top-five finishes in each of the 11 races.  Vautier received a Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to advance to Firestone Indy Lights after he won the Star Mazda Championship this past season. The Mazda Road to Indy Program, in its third year of existence, aims to help talented young drivers advance their careers and ultimately move to the top level of open-wheel racing-the IZOD IndyCar Series.  For further information, click here.

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP ANNOUNCES 2012 SCHEDULE OF 18-RACES ON 10 WEEKENDS, MOST WITH INDYCAR

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today announced a 2012 schedule featuring 18 races on 10 weekends, most with the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Rising racing stars from around the world will hone their skills at five street circuits, three road courses, one oval and one event yet to be announced; all street circuit and road course weekends will be 'double headers featuring two races, with the fastest lap for each car in Race 1 determining the starting grid for Race 2. Oval track weekends will be single races.

In addition to providing more racing with no increase in budget or travel, the new double-header format is designed to be attractive to the businessmen/racers who compete in the Star Mazda Expert Series for drivers 30 and older. Ten races during the season will count toward the Expert Series Championship, allowing Expert competitors to run a complete season in five weekends.  For further information, click here.

Date/ Event/ Track Type/ WithMarch 19 -20 Barber Spring Training Road Course Star MazdaMarch 24-25 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg * Street Circuit IndyCarMarch 31-April 1 Barber Motorsports Park * Road Course IndyCarMay 25 -26 Night Before the 500 Oval USACJune 22 -24 TBA TBA TBAJuly  7-8 Grand Prix of Toronto * Street Circuit IndyCarJuly 21-22 Grand Prix of Edmonton * Street Circuit IndyCarAugust 3-5 GP3R Trois-Rivières * Street Circuit Indy LightsSeptember 1-2 Grand Prix of Baltimore * Street Circuit IndyCarSeptember 8-9 Mazda Raceway * Road Course Grand-AmOctober 17 - 20  Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta Road Course American Le Mans

STAR MAZDA TEAM JUNCOS RACING EXPANDS TO INDY LIGHTS WITH DAVEY HAMILTON RACING

Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear team Juncos Racing has expanded its presence in the Mazda Road to Indy program by adopting the Firestone Indy Lights team of Davey Hamilton Racing.  With three years of experience in the Star Mazda Championship-including a record-breaking championship title-team owner Ricardo Juncos is eager to grow his team and move up to the next rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in 2012. Juncos Racing will move its team headquarters from Vero Beach, Florida to Brownsburg, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, but will keep a facility in Fort Pierce, Florida to facilitate year-around testing.  Davey Hamilton Racing's lead engineer Darrell Soppe will transition into the role of lead engineer for Juncos Racing's Firestone Indy Lights program. Soppe is one of the most respected engineers in racing with a résumé that includes working for Penske Motorsports for five years where he helped Rick Mears win both the Indy 500 and championship title in 1979 and working with Newman-Haas where he helped Mario Andretti win the championship title in 1984.  For further information, click here.

RISING FEMALE OPEN-WHEEL STAR ASHLEY FREIBERG TO RUN FULL 2012 STAR MAZDA

CHAMPIONSHIP WITH BACKING FROM TRUECAR'S "WOMEN EMPOWERED" INITIATIVE

TrueCar, Inc., creators of the intelligent automotive marketplace that benefits both buyers and sellers has announced an extensive, multi-year commitment to support top female race car drivers in premier racing series, along with young rising stars across several developmental racing series.

The TrueCar Racing "Women Empowered" initiative is an extension of the company's efforts to help women enjoy the best possible car buying experience.  Ashley Freiberg, only the second female racer -- other than Danica Patrick -- to be nominated as a candidate for the prestigious Team USA Scholarship, won 25 Skip Barber races and two Skip Barber Series Championships during the 2010 season and made history as the first woman to win a Skip Barber Championship and the first woman to win a BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series race.  She will compete in the full 2012 Star Mazda Championship schedule.  For further information, click here.

DIVERSITY GOES ZOOM-ZOOM; INTERNATIONAL STAR MAZDA FIELD SHAPING UP FOR 2012

Andretti Autosport has announced it will welcome back driver 2011 Star Mazda 'Rookie of the Year' Sage Karam for his second season in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear in 2012. Karam will drive the Star Mazda car with support from Comfort Revolution, a leading distributor and marketer of high-end sleep products.  In his debut season in the competitive Star Mazda series, Karam had a total of two wins, seven top-five finishes, including three podiums, and secured two pole positions throughout the year. The up-and-coming young driver ultimately finished fifth in championship. (For further information, click here).

JDC MotorSports, a team with three Star Mazda championships to its credit (including 2011 with Tristan Vautier) will field a 2012 Star Mazda effort for Juan Piedrahita, a talented young Colombian driver now living in Mexico City.  Piedrahita previously contested a partial Star Mazda campaign in 2010, in which he scored one top-five and two top-10s as one of the series youngest competitors.  In 2011, he competed for JDC in the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda finishing seventh in the title chase with two podium finishes, three top-fives, and eight top-10s.  Piedrahita will campaign a Petrosur/Color Mach/Colombia es Pasion/GFK-backed entry.  (For further information, click here).

Team Pelfrey, winner of the 2011 Star Mazda 'Team Championship' has announced the signing of British standout and newly-named BRDC (British Racing Drivers' Club) Rising Star Jack Hawksworth to partner American driver Gustavo Menezes during the 2012 campaign.  Hawksworth, a native of Bradford, England, is Star Mazda rookie but comes to the series with two impressive British Formula Renault 2.0 campaigns on his resume. (For further information, click here).   Menezes, from Coto de Caza, California, is a top international kart racer who made the jump directly to Star Mazda in 2011, scoring one podium finish, two top-5s and nine top-10s.  (For further Information, click here).

STAR MAZDA GRADUATES ANOTHER DRIVER TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES - 2009 MASTER SERIES CHAMPION MIKE GUASCH MOVES UP TO ALMS PROTOTYPE WITH MUSCLE MILK PICKETT RACING

Star Mazda's most recent graduate success story comes in the form of 2009 Expert Series champion Mike Guasch, who has announced he will co-drive with IndyCar/prototype driver Memo Gidley in the LMPC class of the 2012 American Le Mans Series. The duo will compete for the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team in the Challenge class, which features the Michelin-clad ORECA-Courage FLM09 prototype.  Gidley will be taking part in LMPC class competition for the first time while Guasch will be making a return to the series after taking part in a couple of LMPC events in 2011 with Genoa Racing and claiming a class win at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring. Guasch has also tested his skills in the FIA GT3 European Championship (2010) as well as the British GT Championship (2011).  (For further information, click here).