eFormulaCarNews.com Interviews Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine Winner Bobby Kelley
 December 7, 2011| 
  • Series News

Courtesy eFormulaCarNews.com


IKF karter Bobby Kelley will take part in the USF2000 doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg in 2012 after winning the Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine.


The inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine recently took place at Andersen RacePark in Florida with a talented group of karters battling for a two-race scholarship in the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda. IKF karter Bobby Kelley ultimately emerged as the winner, and eFormulaCarNews.com had the chance to speak to the Californian.

EFORMULACARNEWS.COM: Let's start things off by the lead up to the Scouting Combine in Florida. When and how did you find out you would be taking part in the Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine? What were your initial thoughts about being part of the inaugural grassroots program?


BOBBY KELLEY: I found out I would be taking part in the Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine about a month ago. I was contacted by Art Verlinger of RLV and he informed me that I had received this award through the International Karting Federation. I was very excited to be given this opportunity and could not wait to get to Florida.


EFCN: Once you knew you would be traveling to Andersen RacePark in Florida to drive an USF2000 car, what did you do to prepare for the event?


KELLEY: The first thing I did to prepare for the event at Andersen RacePark in Florida was check out the track map. I studied the layout over and over in my head to prepare me mentally. I also put in a few gym days here and there.


EFCN: Upon getting to Florida and seeing the other karters you'd be going up against what were your thoughts? Were you confident you could challenge for top honors?


KELLEY: Once I arrived in Florida and met all of the other drivers, I knew this would be a tough competition. The amount of talent was huge, but I was confident that I could be a contender for the top honors.


EFCN: The weather was less than ideal for the opening day of the Scouting Combine, with heavy rain limiting the on-track action? Did you get a chance to sample the Van Diemen F2000 car in the tricky conditions, and if so, how did it go?


KELLEY: With the heavy rain on the opening day of the Scouting Combine, I was only able to get five laps in the F2000. I was fortunate for those five laps, and while I was out there the rain just started to come down, so I was barely affected by it.


The five laps I got was enough to give the Belardi Auto Racing team and I enough data to show me what I needed to work on for the next day.


EFCN: With virtually all the on-track action rained out, the majority of the day was spent doing activities outside of the car. How did that go? Did you take the opportunity to interact and learn from the USF2000 personnel and Indy Lights racer Anders Krohn [who was one of the judges] while outside of the cockpit?


KELLEY: Even though the first day of on track action was cut short due to rain, it was still a productive day. I definitely took advantage of everyone around me. I spent time with the Belardi team, learned more about the USF2000 car, and I also interacted with the driver coaches, Anders Krohn and Gerardo Bonilla. The advice from the driver coaches was very beneficial.


EFCN: Day two featured all the racers getting behind the wheel via a qualifying style run and a race run simulation. How did your on-track sessions go? What was your impression of the car, and what did you learn and work on improving?


KELLEY: My on-track sessions on day two went very well. The team gave me a few things to work on, such as acceleration and braking points. Gerardo Bonilla was a huge help, and I can't thank him enough for all of his coaching. The car was a blast to drive and unlike anything I have experienced. I learned so much throughout the weekend and it was such a great experience.


EFCN: You also got the chance to take part in a mock interview and attend a business of motorsports seminar. How did you like the interview, and what all did you learn from the seminar?


KELLEY: I enjoyed the mock interview, as it was something that will prepare me for future interviews. I learned a lot of valuable information from the business of motorsports seminar, including many helpful tips that will allow me to excel in my racing career.


EFCN: Ultimately you impressed the judges with your performances in and out of the cockpit to win the inaugural Scouting Combine. What do you think set you apart from the rest of the talented racers on hand?


KELLEY: To win the inaugural Scouting Combine is such a huge honor and I am very proud to have received this opportunity. I believe what set me apart from all of the other very talented racers on hand was my on-track performance. I drove the car to the best of my ability, and I drove fast, like I always love to do.


EFCN: What does it mean to win the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship for the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheader in St. Petersburg?


KELLEY: To win The Mazda Road to Indy scholarship for the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheader in St. Petersburg is a stepping stone in my racing career. I have to thank everyone from Mazda Road to Indy, Dan Andersen, everyone at Andersen RacePark, the Belardi Auto Racing team, Anders Krohn and Gerardo Bonilla, and everyone who put this program together for giving all of the drivers and I this unique experience.


EFCN: Now that you've won the ride for the two street races in Florida, what are the next steps in preparing for your series debut?


KELLEY: My next steps in preparing for my series debut in the two street races in Florida will be trying to get as much seat time as I can in the USF2000 car.


EFCN: Finally, what are your goals for the USF2000 doubleheader in St. Petersburg, and the rest of 2012?


KELLEY: My goals for the USF2000 doubleheader in St. Petersburg will be to be competitive and to make the podium. That would be an outstanding way to begin my open-wheel career.

As of now, I am planning on running the whole 2012 season in the USF2000 series, and am looking for a team.


EFCN: Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with EFCN. We look forward to covering you this coming spring in Florida.


KELLEY: Thank you EFCN. Happy Holidays.


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