Tim de Silva has become the second driver to secure an entry to the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout which will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, near Monterey, Calif., on December 6-7. The scholarship winner will claim a $200,000 Mazda Scholarship to move onto the first step of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, in 2017.
The Shootout will be an unprecedented event, bringing the 2016 champions of select junior open-wheel and karting series from around the world together for the first time to vie for the scholarship in a knockout-style format.
De Silva, 20, from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., earned his opportunity after clinching the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Primus Racing Parts last weekend at Sonoma Raceway. He joins Michael Scott, 21, from Te Puke, New Zealand, who clinched a berth in the shootout by winning his national Formula Ford Championship earlier this year.
Pacific F2000 and New Zealand Formula Ford are among a plethora of junior categories from around the globe designated as Official Feeder Series of the Mazda Road to Indy, which offers a series of scholarships to allow talented youngsters to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
“If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would have the opportunity to compete in the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout, I do not think I would have believed you,” said de Silva, whose first exposure to the sport came at the tender age of 4 when, at the behest of his father, an avid vintage racer, he began driving a quarter midget race car and a Yamaha 50cc motorcycle in his backyard.
De Silva raced karts from the age of 11 before progressing into the vintage ranks with a Formula Atlantic Ralt RT-1. After a couple of years of dovetailing his racing with his studies at Claremont McKenna College, de Silva has taken the Pacific F2000 series by storm in 2016. He has won seven of 10 races aboard a Dave Freitas Racing-prepared Van Diemen and posted new lap records at Willow Springs, Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and, most recently, Sonoma Raceway. De Silva’s points tally cannot be eclipsed even with two races remaining in the season.
“I feel very fortunate just to have been able to participate in the 2016 Pacific F2000 Championship in addition to attending college and playing collegiate golf,” continued de Silva. “Working with Dave Freitas Racing this past year was an unforgettable experience, both because I spent time working with great friends and because I was able to learn from some of the best in motorsports.
“I am thrilled about the opportunity to compete with great drivers from around the world in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. Regardless of the outcome, I am confident that I will remember this experience for the rest of my life. What excites me most about the Shootout is the opportunity to interact with drivers who share my passion and success. Every one of these drivers will have a unique path they took to get to this Shootout. Seeing the different ways people with my same passion have found success will be a tremendous learning experience for me.”