Nick, thanks for your time, and congratulations on your podium at Barber. Can you give us a little of your racing background, as well as your eventual goals in motorsport?
NA: Thank You, Barber was a awesome race! I started racing locally in St. Petersburg, FL, when I was 5 years old. Eventually I started racing around the state of Florida and around the US. I had lots of fun racing karts and at that level it was just me and my Dad working on my karts as a "privateer" type of team. I won a few Florida state championships and finished 5th in on the national level twice. When I was about 16 I did my first Skip Barber school and a year later I did my second school to make me eligible to race. Another year later I did my first Skip Barber race. A few months later I won a scholarship from the Skip Barber scholarship shootout to race in the Skip Barber Regional series. I won 12 of 14 races to win the championship and Rookie of the Year. Last year I raced a full season of Skip Barber National and also joined the Star Mazda Championship partially though the season. This year, I am 100% focused on Star Mazda and winning the 2011 Championship. My goal is to become a IZOD IndyCar driver using the Mazda Road to Indy.
|Next Stop: Night Before The 500!|
NA: Yes, of course! The Mazda Road to Indy is giving drivers the best opportunities to advance their careers toward IndyCar. I think that is why more and more foreign drivers are coming to the states to compete. Not only does Star Mazda have a great prize package that includes a scholarship to Indy Lights but Mazda Road to Indy starts in Skip Barber and continues all the way to IndyCar! If the Mazda Road to Indy does not motivate a driver to compete for the championship, I don't know what will.
Which track on the schedule are you most looking forward to, and why?
NA: My hometown race at St. Petersburg, but since St.Petersburg Grand Prix already passed I will have to say the "Night Before the 500" race at Lucas Oil Raceway. I did a Star Mazda test there last year, but could not do the race, so I'm looking forward to that race. Also, I think just the atmosphere around Indy at that time of year is awesome and the stands will be packed as we race under the lights so I can't wait until that race!
Who are your toughest competitors on the track, and who in Star Mazda right now challenges you the most?
NA: I definitely have to say one of my biggest competitors is my teammate Connor De Phillippi. Connor has already won at this level and is always quick, but it is something I feel is a good thing because at the same time we are teammates and we help each other push ourselves to the fastest two guys in the series. It's hard to tell after two races but also Tristan Vautier is a veteran in this car and is extremely fast, JV Horto is quick as well, as is Martin Scuncio.
There's a pretty good lull in the schedule between Barber and the next Star Mazda event, the Night Before The 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway. What do you do in the interim?
NA: Yeah, we have about a month and a half off but it doesn't go to waste. I'm using this time to make sure my school work is in order and put in solid hours at the gym because the ovals are really demanding from a physical standpoint. I will also do some iRacing especially since I have never been to Milwaukee, with iRacing I can at least figure out where I'm going before I get to the track.
You're currently in college for Mechanical Engineering, right? Do you see yourself taking a more behind-the-scenes role one day in racing, or does the driving side of the sport call louder to you?
NA: Yes, I am working toward a mechanical engineering degree. I want to take the driving side of the sport as far as I can; without a doubt that's what I want to do. One reason I am studying mechanical engineering is because if driving the cars doesn't work out I like the possibility of working behind the scenes. I have always had a interest in the dynamics of how the car works.
You can follow Nick through his website or over at the Star Mazda Championship site.