Bonilla Continues Coaching Role with USF2000
 February 14, 2011| 
  • Series News
USF2000-news
Palmetto, Fla. – Officials with the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda today announced that Gerardo Bonilla will maintain his role as driver coach and mentor for the 2011 season.

Bonilla, of Orlando, Fla., is a championship-winning driver in his own right and has established a prominent reputation as a professional driver coach over the past 14 years.

“We are very pleased that Gerardo will be back for a second season with the series,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “Gerardo is a true professional and his depth of experience and enthusiasm for helping drivers is a tremendous asset. Providing high-quality coaching is one of our cornerstones. Our goal is to prepare drivers in all aspects of their careers to advance to the next level and Gerardo is a key factor in our educational process.”

An array of rising stars have benefited from Bonilla’s tutelage including John Edwards, Joel Miller, Conor Daly and Connor De Phillippi – who between them have won three Skip Barber National Championships, two Star Mazda titles and an Atlantic Championship within the past four years – as well as last year’s USF2000 National Champion Sage Karam.

"This is a wonderful privilege, a wonderful responsibility," says Bonilla. "Over the years I watched people like Rick Mears and Bryan Herta, who were mentors to series and teams in the same sort of way. They did it at a higher level but I always admired their work and they were an inspiration. They were always available to answer questions and use their own experience to help other drivers develop their skills."

Bonilla has driven a wide variety of cars over the years, including the Mazda factory-backed American Le Mans Series LMP2 prototype in 2008, and is convinced that F2000 offers the perfect training ground for drivers who have their sights set on the pinnacle of the sport.

"In terms of learning about setups, learning about downforce and managing tires, there is nothing better than F2000," says Bonilla. “It’s one of the most configurable cars you can get for the price, and for the speed, and it’s a great place for someone to develop their skills. I still believe very strongly in the Skip Barber [Racing School] system, which enables people to learn about race craft, but then when they’re ready to move on to developing their own setups, F2000 is definitely the best place to go."

Bonilla, who claimed the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda crown in 2005 and added the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship two years later, winning seven of the 12 races, has two principal objectives when he works with young drivers: "One is to get them to think like professionals," he says, "and the other is to encourage them to ask more questions.

"I want them to make decisions like the professionals, and that includes how they look, how they dress and the way they work with their teams. I also want them to ask more detailed questions of their engineers and of their driver coach, if they have a personal driver coach, and to manage their races. My role is to help them to keep learning and improving themselves as race car drivers."

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The Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a revival of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Star Mazda Championship. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program with the top driver in the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda receiving a scholarship from Mazda to contest the USF2000 series.

About Mazda: On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you’ll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the largest road-racing class in the world is Spec Miata, with more than 2,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America’s racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda’s involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world’s premier road-racing circuits, the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing, and the Mazda Road to Indy.

Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is a global company that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires and subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 10 countries around the world.
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