Thursday, February 12, 2015

AWARD: 2014 nifSTAR winner announced as the Inaugural EuroNifStar trophy is unveiled...

Harkening back to thee Dazes 'O Randy "The CandyMann" Bernard, remember him? And the duel trophies for Road Warriors and Oval Specialists; Y'all know those coveted A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti trophies, right; Chirp-Chirp; Bueller?

Hence, I thought it high time to create a separate trophy for our Across-thee-Pond boyz', since I primarily tend to choose winners for the nifSTAR trophy from the Mazda Road To Indy (MRTI) ranks instead, and just cannot simply choose just one single driver anymore. Especially as each year I tend to find more deserving candidates; as HE Double Hockey Sticks! Just look at the mushrooming list 'O 28 choices below!

Hence the two trophies selections will be based upon last year's Shooting Starz selections, previously scribbled labouresly in;

Now if we just had the requisite trophy's, prize funds and readers  who gave a DAMN; Hya! But I digress...

2014 Contestants...
Although it DON'T feel like a fair fight! With the Europeans vastly outnumbering the 'Yanks, with the GP2 runners denoting their F1 Teams testing status &  Others racing series both in parenthesis. While TUSC = Tudor United SportsCar Championship; Here goes nothin'

Mathew Brabham, Gabby Chaves, Jack Harvey, Luiz Razia and Zach Veach.

Conor Daly, Mitch Evans, Felipe Nasr, (Williams Martini Racing) Jolyon Palmer, (2014 Champion) Davide Rigon, (Scuderia Ferrari) Marco Sorensen, (Lotus) Stoffel Vandoorne, ((McLaren Mercedes)

FR 3.5
Pierre Gasly, Roberto Merhi and  Carlos Sainz Jr., (2014 Champion)

Jimmy "NOT MARCUS" Eriksson, Marvin Kirchhofer, Alex Lynn, (2014 Champion) Richie Stanaway and Dean Stoneman.

Shelby Blackstock, (Pro Mazda) Garrett Grist, (USF2000) Scott Hargrove, (USF2000) Spencer Pickett, (Pro Mazda) Shawn Rayhall, (TUSC) Jordan & Ricky Taylor (TUSC) and Max Verstappen. (F3)

And the Winners are...

Pretty small short-list here, and NOT even done fairly, since I know one race weekend doesn't make a driver, but!

Jack Harvey, Age: 21
Born: April 15, 1993
Birthplace: Bassingham, England
2014 Results: Indy Lights Runner-up

There's something 'bout this Englishman that impresses me, even if I've only seen him race ever once "live-in-the-flesh," aka Sonoma. And NO! It's NOT the fact that he sounds an awful lot like another British legend, nee Bloody 'Nige; YIKES! As I'm ARSE-suming that the 21yr old Englishman wouldn't mind emulating Nigel Mansell's success, eh? Just as long as he doesn't grow the Mansell stash; Hya!

Harvey, like most drivers, began Go Karting at age nine, and first tasted success at age 13, en route to racking up multiple prestigious European Karting championships and awards between 2006-08 before making his single seater debut in Formula BMW Europe in '09 for Fortec Motorsports, for whom many flourishing drivers have raced for. Harvey also became a member of the Racing Steps foundation and BRDC Rising Star program.

In 2011, Harvey graduated to British Formula 3 with another noted team, Carlin; Hmm? Could he reunite in '15 with its newly created Indy Lights team? But I'm jumping the gun here, eh? as Jack remained with Carlin in 2012 and on the back of a resounding seven wins and twelve podiums became that year's British F3 champion, which also netted him an invitation to the Formula Renault 3.5 Rookie test.

continuing his association with Racing Steps, which has supported him throughout his single seater career, Jack moved next to GP3 in 2013, signing with Lotus GP and subsequently moved across the pond in '14 to perennial Indy Lights powerhouse Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where the rest is history... As I know he  won at least four times last season, with double race sweeps at both Mid Ohio and Sonoma.

And whilst I have NO idea on his current season's plans, although I'd ARSE-sume he'll return to Indy Lights, and who wouldn't wish to drive for multi-Lights champions Schmidt? I only speculated on the Carlin angle since they're planning on establishing a B-I-G
 CARZ', nee IndyCar team in the future, which is naturally where Harvey, and all Lights drivers aspire to end up at...

Honorable Mention
All five Indy Lights "Heavy Hitters," especially Gabby Chaves and Mathew Brabham...

For last year's nifSTAR winner, see; AWARD: And the 2013 nifSTARwinner is...

2014: Jack Harvey
2013: Conor Daly
2012: Tristan Nunez
2007: Marcus Wilkinson

This by far was my most difficult selection, as my short list included, in NO particular order: Roberto Merhi, Dean Stoneman, Mitch Evans, Stoffel Vandoorne and Marvin Kirchhofer; CRIKEYS!

Dean Stoneman, Age 24
Born: July 24, 1990
Birthplace: Croydon, Great Britain
2014 Results: GP3 Runner-up

Dean Colin Stoneman began his racing career via the tried 'N true method of Karting, making the transition to single seaters in '06 before making the move fulltime in 2007, where he was the Formula Renault BARC runner-up before moving up the ladder to Formula Renault 2.0 UK.

In '08, Stoneman captured the first of his two championships to date, the FR 2.0 UK Graduate Cup, while finishing fourth overall twice in the main FR 2.0 UK championship.

For 'Twenty-ten, Stoneman cruised comfortably to the FIA Formula 2 title with six victories, finishing 42-points ahead of series runner-up, somebody named Jolyon Palmer, the reigning GP2 champion.

For '11 Dean was intent on joining another Super Star in the making, whom I've coyly denoted as Daniel 'Ricky Ricciardo, with the pair set to race for the Czech Republic's  ISR Racing Formula Renault 3.5 team before Dean was diagnosed with testicular cancer...

Fortunately Stoneman recovered fully and returned to racing in the Porsche Carerra Cup GB in 2013, winning his first two races back before reacclimatizing himself with single seaters with a few GP3 drives end of season for  Finland's Koiranen GP.

For the 2014 GP3 season, Stoneman drove for Manor Marussia Racing, obviously with grandeur of moving up the ladder further, having tested for Team Willy, aka Williams F1 as prize for his F2 championship previously. Yet as we all know, sadly Marussia's gone out of business, and this left the Englishman scrambling to find a team to finish the season with, as fortunately Koiranen GP stepped-up to the plate, welcoming Dean back to their fold and Stoneman  summarily finished runner-up on the back of a very impressive five win season...

Honorable Mention
Like I said, picking the inaugural No Fenders EuroNifStar trophy winner was a truly difficult choice, with my original selection being Mitch Evans, the racing driver, not Unlimited Hydroplane racer; Hooah! While I'm also drawn to Roberto Merhi, who's done great things with Zeta Corse - while I'd say McLaren F1 "Simulator Jockey" Stoffel Vandoorne definitely shouldn't be looked over, nor Marvin Kirchhofer  who finished a very respectable third in GP3...

EuroNIFStar Winners
2014: Dean Stoneman