This morning it was announced that Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD), led by part-time Verizon IndyCar Series driver Jay Howard, would join the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder series full-time in 2019. The development formula team will compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship presented by Mazda.
JHDD began as a karting program in 2012 and only progressed to race cars in 2017 after appearances in the F4 U.S. Championship. Howard, who has competed in the last two Indianapolis 500’s, actually won the USF2000 championship back in 2005 before taking the Indy Lights crown in 2006. Since then he has competed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Sarah Fisher Racing.
“I am really excited to add USF2000 to my driver development ladder program,” Howard said in this morning’s release. “I have always wanted to be a part of the Mazda Road to Indy – it was just a case of timing. We are one step closer to our ultimate goal.”
By progressing to cars in 2017, JHDD fielded the youngest trio on the F4 U.S. Championship grid when they placed three drivers from their karting program in cars. Those prospects included Sam Paley (14), Parker Locke (15) and Max Peichel (15), all under the age to acquire a United States driver’s license.
Peichel has already made six starts in USF2000 this season with Arms Up Motorsports, and JHDD has bolstered their line-up in the F4 U.S. Championship with five additional teenagers (Wyatt Brichacek, Braden Eves, Christian Rasmussen, Teddy Wilson and Aidan Yoder) that have launched JHDD to the top of the team championship standings.
“I’m really happy to see our internal motorsports ladder working, taking drivers from karts to cars, then developing and supporting our drivers all the way to IndyCar,” said Howard.
Howard’s plans are a welcome sight to Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. While the USF2000 championship is already filled with a surplus of teams and drivers scratching and clawing their way up the ladder, Howard’s entry to the MRTI could add relief to both Pro Mazda and Indy Lights in the coming years – a couple of series that wouldn’t hurt to have a few more cars on the grid.
“We are very excited to welcome Jay and his team to the Mazda Road to Indy family,” said Andersen. “Jay runs a top-notch program and his driver development goals align perfectly with ours – to provide drivers with the resources necessary to climb the motorsports racing ladder to the top.
“He has had tremendous success in training and graduating karters into cars and the open-wheel arena, and we are very much looking forward to having him in our paddock.”
It is unclear at the moment whether or not JHDD will make an appearance during the final few rounds of this year’s 2018 USF2000 championship.
Image courtesy of the Mazda Road to Indy.