Filipino-American race driver Michele Bumgarner has always dreamt of competing in the Indianapolis 500.
She’s closer to her dream, now that she’s joining the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship as part of the Mazda’s Road to Indy development program.
Bumgarner, the 2008 Star Mazda Championship series veteran, and several times Philippine motorsports Driver of the Year awardee, is angling to be the first Filipino to run in the prestigious race.
The Mazda program is considered a stepping stone in her bid to join the North American Indycar Championships.
Mazda Philippines President Steven Tan believes the Filipina racing sensation will do well in the program.
“Competing in the Mazda Pro Championship under the Mazda Road to Indy is absolutely the right strategy for such a talented race driver like Michele to reach Indy Car,” Tan said.
“Michele has the has the talent, the experience and a team that can take her as far as she will go. Mazda shares Michele’s values of setting extreme goals and defying convention. We felt strongly that Michele is the Filipino personification of Mazda’s ideals,” he said.
Bumgarner will leave the country on Thursday to prepare for the last three races of this year’s 2013 Pro Mazda.
She is also lining up testing schedules with a Pro Mazda Formula car for a chance to make it to the top class of the Formula Car challenge in the final three legs from August to October at the Sonoma Raceway.
Mazda is the title sponsor of the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship. The nine-leg event is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system.
The series champion will be given a sponsorship package by Mazda to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights series the following year.
RUBEN D. MANAHAN 4th