2008 Star Mazda Championship Driver Profiles

While one of the main stars of the Star Mazda Championship is the 238-horsepower Renesis-motivated Star Mazda Pro Formula Mazda racecar, the other half of the equation lies with the aspiring racers that are currently enrolled in the developmental series. A strong contingent of new and returning drivers from all over the world ensures that the competition will not only be fierce, but also international.

Meet some of the stars of Star Mazda now.

Joel Miller
Hometown: Hesperia, California
Birthday: May 10, 1988
Team: JDC Motorsports
Car # / Colors: 20 / Black/Blue
Primary Sponsor: MAZDASPEED
Associate Sponsors: K&N Air Filters, Sparco

The 2008 Star Mazda Championship has been another glowing success story for Mazda’s motorsport’s development ladder, as graduate Joel Miller, who earned his JDC Motorsports seat after taking the 2007 Skip Barber National title, has been the one to beat this year.

Behind the wheel of the MAZDASPEED car, he claimed pole position in his first Star Mazda race ever at Sebring in March and backed it up with the win. He went on to take third in the following contest at Miller Motorsports Park in May after qualifying P2; second at Watkins Glen in June after gridding in third; and another bronze finish in the second half of the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland July doubleheader after getting underway in sixth spot. That’s a record of four podiums in five starts for Miller’s rookie season, good for first in points after five of 12 events.

When Miller was with the Skip Barber championship, he amassed an impressive record of two poles, five wins and 10 podiums from 14 starts in the open-wheel series. Previously Miller raced karts for over 10 years, claiming distinctions as the 2005 runner-up and 2006 champion in the Stars of Karting series and the 2007 Florida winter tour champion. He’s had a close association with the Tony Kart squad in Florida, and even counts his most memorable racing achievement as winning the ICA Championship for Tony Kart.

The University of California, Riverside, mechanical engineering student likes to spend his free time playing golf, water skiing, working on his car and wakeboarding with family and friends.

Website: www.joelmillerracing.net

Charles Hall
Hometown: Sheffield, United Kingdom
Birthday: November 13, 1981
Team: Andersen Racing Team
Car # / Colors: 77 / Black/Silver
Primary Sponsor: Blimpie
Associate Sponsors: AccentBanking.com, Pardoes Solicitors, Data and Power Solutions

Andersen Racing Team’s Charles Hall has had an impressive early season in the No. 77 Blimpie car. He has collected a foursome of top-five qualifiers and three podiums, including two seconds at Sebring and Miller and a win at Watkins Glen. He trails Joel Miller by just five points after five rounds of the 2008 Star Mazda campaign.

Prior to his stint with Star Mazda, Hall has an 11-year history checkered with a vast array of open-wheel car experiences from Europe and North America, everything from Formula Atlantic to British F3. Among his honors, Hall was the 2003 FRAN-AM 2000 World Winter Series Champion, and in 2002 ended up third in the British Formula Renault Winter Series Race, in addition to winning a race in the British F3 Winter Series. Like many in racing, Hall also has karting credentials, getting seeded as British driver between 1991-’96.

Website: www.charleshallusa.com

Alex Ardoin
Hometown: Lafayette, LA
Birthday: July 10, 1989
Team: Mundill
Car # / Colors: 51 / Black/Orange
Primary Sponsor: Oral and Facial Surgery Center
Associate Sponsors: Tropico Commodities/Comfiamca Moving

While his results thus far this year may not necessarily reflect it, Alex Ardoin is having a promising season. With the exception of his race at Miller (where he battled car problems but still made up 19 spots to finish 10th from the back of the field), he’s been on a relative tear, finishing no further back than sixth. Out of five contests, he has two podiums and a pole position. He sits 11 markers behind the Star Mazda driver points leader, in third place.

Ardoin’s competition history includes the 2006 Skip Barber Shootout Award Southwest Formula Mazda Champion, Teen Champion, Rookie of the Year, SCCA Southwest Division Regional and National Points Champion. The Team Mundil pilot also spent seven years karting on the national circuit.

The student from Louisiana lists his favorite drivers as Ayrton Senna, Scott Speed, and Fernando Alonso, and when he’s not racing he likes to fish, play video games, ride dirt bikes, and hang out with his friends.

Website: www.mundill.com

Billy Goshen
Hometown: Brea, CA
Birthday: October 20, 1990
Team: Goshen Motorsports
Car # / Colors: 82 / Orange/Black
Primary Sponsor: Merv Griffin Entertainment
Associate Sponsors: Global Tracking Comm

Billy Goshen’s 2008 has been coming into focus over the first five events of the year, with Goshen moving from mid-pack at the start to now running towards the front with the leaders. He qualified no lower than seventh in the contests at Watkins Glen and Portland, and finished in the top 10 in every challenge, finding his first podium of the season (for third) in the first of Portland’s two races. At almost the midway point of the year, Goshen is running fourth in points, 24 adrift of the leader.

In 2007, Goshen captured the USA Formula TR Pro Series Championship, his first car racing Championship, in addition to getting seat time in Formula BMW and a Mazda RX-7 for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill enduro. A year previous he finished as runner-up for the Formula TR Championship and made a great finish to his karting career by winning the IKF, Region 7, HPV 4 Championship and an additional two IKF Grand National Championships in the 80cc Limited Shifter Class and the 80cc Senior Shifter Class. Born into a racing family, Goshen has been going side-by-side since he was nine years old, when his father first introduced him to karting.

When not racing or attending Whittier Christian High School, Goshen has given time to those less fortunate by helping feed the homeless during the holidays. For the past few years, he has made an annual trip with his church to Mexico to help build homes. Goshen attends church regularly and maintains a strong Christian faith. In his limited leisure time, he enjoys wakeboarding, waterskiing, and snowboarding.

Website: www.goshenmotorsports.com

Tom Gladdis
Hometown: Gibraltar, United Kingdom
Birthday: February 24, 1991
Team: Andersen Racing Team
Car # / Colors: 5 / Black
Primary Sponsor: Law Firm of Marrache & Co

The 17-year-old from Gibraltar, UK, has come on very strong in Rounds 4 and 5 of the Star Mazda 2008 championship after less-than-stellar performances in the first two contests. At the Portland GP, Gladdis mounted two pole positions and two podiums, including his first win of the season. Additionally, he has never finished outside of top five in the races he has started this year. His record places him fifth on the drivers table with seven rounds to go.

Before his Star Mazda swing, Gladdis earned his stripes in Formula BMW UK, earning a scholarship into the series, which he considers his biggest achievement to date. He states becoming an F1 driver among his aspirations, and currently views two-time world champ Fernando Alonso as one of his role models. When he’s not strapped into a race car, Gladdis enjoys boxing, biking and keeping fit.

Peter Dempsey
Hometown: Ashbourne, Ireland
Birthday: May 10, 1988
Team: Andersen Racing Team
Car # / Colors: 21 / Black/Silver

Peter Dempsey has done well for himself in the still-developing 2008 season. He’s qualified in the top five at each event, and except for his incident-plagued weekend in Portland, has come home no worse than fourth, even nabbing silver-medal status at Sebring. He sits in sixth place in points after the first five races, 39 markers back.

Prior to Star Mazda, Dempsey competed in select races of the UK and Irish Formula Ford 1600 season in 2007, and won the Martin Donnelly Trophy, the BRDC Golden Helmet, the Leinster Trophy and the Walter Hayes Trophy. In fact, he’s had a history of wins in Formula Ford since 2004, and previous to that he ran in karts from 1995 to 2000, winning many races.

In addition to his job as a race car driver, Dempsey also pays the bills as a data analyst and driving coach. He lists his racing heroes as Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.

Website: www.peterdempsey.com

John Edwards
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Birthday: March 11, 1991
Team: AIM Autosport
Car # / Colors: 7 / Red/White
Primary Sponsor: Skip Barber

Although John Edwards has only been in four of the first five Star Mazda starts of 2008, he’s made the most of his track time, earning two victories and a pole. He’s qualified no lower than fifth and reached the checkered flag in the top six for each contest, with the exception of Portland Race 1, where the AIM Autosport No.7 succumbed to clutch problems. He lies 43 points behind the series leader, seventh on the pilots’ table.

Before coming to Star Mazda, Edwards raced in the Atlantic Championship in 2007 and in Europe’s Formula Renault in ’06 and ’05, where he was the youngest driver in history to hold an FIA license. After a first year of learning, Edwards completed a successful campaign with podium finishes at Spa-Franchorchamps and the Nurburgring, and his first European victory at Anderstorp. Edwards has also raced in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Race Series, and first entered organized motor racing in karts in 2003 winning the Great Lakes Sprint Series Junior Briggs Restricted Championship.

When Edwards isn’t racing, he trains six days per week about two hours a day in the gym. He also enjoys paintballing in his free time.

Website: www.johnmichaeledwards.com

Taylor Hacquard
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Birthday: March 2, 1990
Team: World Speed Motorsports
Car # / Colors: 15 / Black/Yellow
Primary Sponsor: Wolfe Auto Group
Associate Sponsors: Racing For Kids

World Speed’s Taylor Hacquard has made progress in Star Mazda’s early going, turning several mediocre qualifying results into admirable race finishes. He’s crossed the stripe in the top 10 in four of the first five races, getting as high as fifth at Portland Race 1 after starting from 12th, and currently lies eighth in drivers’ points, 44 points behind the leader.

In his path to Star Mazda, Hacquard spent two years kart racing in 2005 and ’06, finding the podium several times and keeping pace with some of the best from the Stars of Karting series. He also spent one year testing in Pro Formula Mazda.

Hacquard’s hobbies include “anything with a motor,” customizing cars and hockey.

Website: www.taylorhacquard.com

Kristy Kester
Hometown: Odessa, TX
Birthday: March 16, 1988
Team: Kester Racing
Car # / Colors: 48 / White
Primary Sponsor: Texas World Speedway
Associate Sponsors: Unifirst, Snap-on-Tools

Leading the X chromosome charge is Kristy Kester, one of three women in the chase for the 2008 Star Mazda Championship. She’s struggled in qualifying only to impress on race day, her best result coming in Portland Race 1 where she finished just off the podium after qualifying ninth. She’s also made up 12 grid spots to finish 11th at Watkins Glen in June and earned another top-10 result at the season opener at Sebring, where she came home eighth. Currently sitting ninth in points, 48 back of the leader, and with seven rounds still to play out, Kester has ample opportunity to mount a charge for the crown.

Starting in karts some eight years ago, Kester has collected multiple first-, second- and third-place finishes. She’s also placed second at the 2005 IKF Road Race Grand Nationals and won several WTKA Karting Championships – all before she turned 19. Furthermore, she set fastest race lap, scored three pole positions, and won two races in the Formula Enterprise regional and national series.

The 20-year-old Texas native has always seemed to be driven at whatever she does in life. In high school, she graduated as class valedictorian. Currently a sophomore at Texas A&M University, she plans on majoring in biomedical studies and charging into medical school.

Website: www.kesterracing.com

Chris Cumming
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Birthday: August 26, 1970
Team: World Speed Motorsports
Car # / Colors: 16 / Red/White
Primary Sponsor: Inviro Medical
Associate Sponsors: 90 Degree Software

Chris Cumming is one of two World Speed pilots in the upper echelon of driver points after five Star Mazda events, having converted several sub-par qualifying efforts into encouraging finishes. His strongest showing was in Portland Race 1, where he saw checkers in sixth after starting two places back. He made up eight places at Miller in Round 2 and has completed the last two events in the top eight. His record places him 54 points behind the leader in the drivers’ table, ranked tenth with seven contests remaining.

This is Cumming’s third year in the Star Mazda series. Before joining the Star chassis/Mazda Renesis spec championship, he spent 10 years karting and two years as an SCCA Spec Racer Ford hot shoe.

Website: www.worldspeed.com