Motorsport: McKenna sets Indy500 goal as USA switch approaches
PATRICK McKENNA looks set to race in the US this season after turning his attention away from the UK Formula Renault Championship.
The new Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Racing Driver of the Year had planned to move into Formula Renault, but a change of chassis provider for that series and the teams’ astronomical budgets have forced a change of heart.
Now McKenna, a regular podium finisher in UK Formula Ford last season, is close to a move to the US.
The flagging USF2000 series is McKenna's new target: he has been been given a boost with patronage from the Indy Racing League, which provides a clear path for him all the way to the Indy500.
As is the way with US racing, and in marked contrast to much of Europe, the rewards for victory in American single-seaters are more than just garlands and champagne.
Assuming he completes a deal with one of two top squads courting him, McKenna will be racing for a prize fund that includes $350,000 funding to help the champion graduate to Star Mazda for 2011.
With a clear path to the top level, including prize drives to help the champion graduate from each level, McKenna is excited about testing his talent in a meritocracy – especially as he is putting the finishing touches on his final engineering degree project at Bolton Street.
”With college out of the way, I can really focus on racing this season and America is the way to go,” he said. “I looked initially at Star Mazda but a couple of top F2000 teams have been in touch with very attractive offers.
“Formula Renault has changed its chassis this year so picking the right team is more of a lottery. More than that, the budgets are huge and you have to go and find the money again the following year.
“It makes more sense for me to race in a championship where winning will guarantee a move up in level. Things are really looking up and I’m looking forward to racing in the Indy500 in the next few years.”
Meanwhile, the Irish Rally Competitors Association has mustered more than 70 rally cars for Saturday’s sixth annual Marshals Payback Day.
Drivers of the calibre of Kenny McKinstry and Niall Maguire will pilot a selection of cars including Subaru WRCs, Mitsubishi Evos, MK 2 Escorts and a Rage Buggy as seen at the Race of Champions.