USF2000 pilot seeks more success in SCCA runoff at IMS
There are many paths around the world that lead to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and up and coming driver Simon Sikes is using this weekend’s SCCA National Championship Finals at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take him to the top of the race. with open wheels.
Sikes is competing this weekend in Formula F and Formula Continental and will be hoping for his second straight runoff victory in Formula F.
“Honestly, we’re feeling pretty good for this weekend after doing a few days of testing,” said Sikes. “I’ve been pretty comfortable in Formula F so far and look a lot better than in Formula Continental. It looks like we really have something. Last year was a last minute effort to bring it all together, but this year we’re doing it really well and we’re putting all the effort into it. “
The 2021 season has been more than SCCA for Sikes. With the eventual goal of reaching the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, he has dipped his toes into the USF2000 this season as he envisions a full-time race in the series in 2022.
He’s run nearly half the season in 2021, which won’t include this weekend’s USF2000 final in Mid-Ohio as it conflicts with the SCCA runoff. After a difficult start to the year, Sikes has proven to be a talented driver in the first rung of the Road to Indy ladder system.
Sikes has been on the podium four times this season, with a better second place finish at Road America-2 and Mid-Ohio-3. He also finished third in the first two Mid-Ohio races of the triple weekend. He also raced in May at IMS in the triple USF2000 title during the GMR Grand Prix weekend.
He said that when he scored his first top 10 of the season at Road America in seventh, it was a turning point for him and his racing team, which included new engineers and new setups this weekend. From there, Sikes was able to start proving his worth at USF2000.
“We knew we had to fight for the wins, but it was a disappointing start to the season,” said Sikes. “We managed to turn the tide and get the momentum going. The comfort and the experience certainly helped.
Sikes, a 20-year-old business student at the University of Augusta, had hoped to lead a full campaign this season, but a lack of funding prevented him. Sikes learns the financial importance of the industry at a young age, and he hopes it will help him many years later. This is one reason why he chose to study business, in order to understand the marketing and sponsorship side of motorsport.
As he turns his SCCA and USF2000 successes into more opportunities, his goal is to spend a full-time season in each Road to Indy series – USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights – over the next three years.
Sikes has a virtual NTT INDYCAR SERIES experience through a race in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge last spring for Ed Carpenter Racing. With Conor Daly unable to compete in the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve virtual race in Montreal, Sikes competed in Daly’s # 20 virtual car and drove it to 16th place.
Most importantly for Sikes, it was meaningful to drive for team owner and rider Ed Carpenter, whom he admires and follows his path to go to college for business and make it a racing career. Carpenter graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis.
“Just being associated with a team like this is amazing,” said Sikes. “I have always been a fan of ECR. I met Josef Newgarden when I was in karting, and I followed his career when he was at ECR. I’ve always been a huge fan of what Ed did as a driver and owner. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of it. “
But before he can look to 2022 and beyond, Sikes is looking to save his Formula F title this weekend in the racing capital of the world.
The weeklong event takes its toll on the riders and forces the best of them as they compete for their respective class championship, but Sikes makes the most of it and is multitasking. Sikes, from Georgia, took an exam and wrote an essay for the class while at IMS, where he arrived last Saturday.
“This is only the third time that I have participated in Indy, and for SCCA being able to go here and do their events is awesome,” Sikes said. “Being able to come here for the Runoffs and have access to these iconic tracks is really a great event. You get experience in really cool places, and it’s usually a place where you can gain experience and use it later in your career.