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Post-Season Review

San Diego, CA- It’s been a long three weeks since I’ve been in a USF2000 racecar, so what better way to deal with the withdrawal than by writing a blog reminiscing on how the season went. My last few write-ups were primarily focused on our results for the weekend, but this time I want to touch mainly on the support from Mazda Motorsports and what it was like to be a Mazda Scholarship driver within the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.

It is truly hard to describe the amount of support that you get from Mazda Motorsports outside of the actual monetary investments that they make in you. I’m an only child but the best way I could describe it is it’s as if you had a “big brother” looking out for your best interests throughout the season, making sure that every opportunity is seized upon. They really make sure that you can achieve your highest potential and give you advice as to what they would do - everything from career advice, business and social media tips, and driver coaching. The amount of support I received was overwhelming and our success this year would not have been possible without their help.

There were quite a few unique opportunities that came with the scholarship as well. I was able to drive the parade car at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, go to dinners with series sponsors, and even do a Q&A session with the media with the likes of Will Power, Scott Dixon, and Spencer Pigot at St. Petersburg. All of which was completely unexpected when I initially won the scholarship. More surprises occurred throughout the season such as when I was invited into the team operations while at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Another great aspect of the Mazda Scholarship program, going back to the funding, is that it gives you a year to focus on your next program. This gave us an extra season to focus on raising a full budget to compete in USF2000 again in 2017 with the new Tatuus USF-17. This extra time was crucial for our current program as we were able to raise funding to do some private testing and participate in the Chris Griffis Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend.

Again, this season would not have happened without all of the financial, career, and moral support that Mazda has given me. They were the backbone to our 2016 program and the springboard to 2017. To Jade, Jim, Joel, Kyle, and Mr. Doonan, I sincerely thank you for all of your help this past year, and I will be working harder than ever to win the Championship next year so that I can be your scholarship driver again.

All the best,


Mid-Season Update

It has been a very busy set of months over here at Dakota Dickerson Racing! First and foremost I would like to acknowledge those who have gotten us to where we are this year. Mazda Motorsports, Jeremy Shaw and the Team USA Scholarship, Cooper Tires, Skip Barber Racing School, Molecule Sports, and Crow Enterprizes have been crucial to our success this year.  If it weren’t for the opportunities given to us by the Team USA Scholarship and Mazda Motorsports I wouldn’t have much to write about today.

We started off the season with high-hopes, excited to race some great drivers from across the globe. Our first stop was Barber Motorsports Park for the official series test. It was a great learning experience and good way to get our feet wet before our first official race (which was just 3 days later). We could already tell the competition would be fierce, but that didn’t change our program. The tight streets of St. Petersburg were rough as we saw our best and worst result come out of the weekend. Engine issues throughout the weekend and contact in the last race put us a step back.

There was then a 6 week period between St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park, the venue for Rounds 3&4, so what better to do than to work with a Mazda dealer! I went up to Huntington Beach Mazda for a cars and coffee event that brought out some of Southern California’s finest Mazda enthusiasts. The next stop was then over to AutoBahn Country Club for two private test days with the team. We made a lot of improvements and felt more comfortable with the car. Our last stop before heading out to Birmingham, AL was to the Long Beach Grand Prix. It was an action packed event both on and off track. That Thursday I was honored to join several of my fellow Team USA Scholarship recipients such as INDYCAR drivers Spencer Pigot, Josef Newgarden, and J.R. Hildebrand, as well as Mazda Prototype drivers Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez for the George Follmer tribute dinner put together by the RRDC (Road Racing Drivers Club), SafeisFast Race Driver Development, and the Team USA Scholarship. There were a number of incredible racing icons that attended the event and I will never forget all of the great stories and conversations I heard. The on track part of the weekend was great with the INDYCAR race running the entirety of the race under green while still have great battles. On the sports car side of racing, Mazda got its then best finish of 4th (now 3rd) of the year! What made it even better was that I was able to hang out with the team before and after the race in their trailer.

Arriving at Barber Motorsports Park, I was excited to just get on track. Because of the series test earlier in the year, I felt very comfortable with the car right out of the gate. We showed some progress, especially in the wet were we were within the Top 5 in practice, but just couldn’t seem to get it right in the dry, along with some wheel to wheel contact with another driver that sent us off track. Nevertheless, we were making strides and had a good idea as to what needed to be done in order to move forward. I also had the opportunity to take some special guests for a ride around the undulating circuit in a Mazda 3. I want to say I gave the Serra Mazda of Birmingham guys a good scare (see picture)… Another highlight of the weekend was working with the Road to Indy TV guys on putting together a short clip about me. We went out to go Trap Shooting and sat down to chat more about my personal life!

There wasn’t much time between our race at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis GP but I did manage to fit in a Spec Miata race where we won both days and set a new track record. It felt great to get back in our Mazda sports car (except for the no down force part… I kind of like down force now).

Indy GP, arguably one of the most historic tracks on the schedule for the Cooper Tires USF200 Championship powered by Mazda. We arrived expecting rain in every session, and it stayed nice and sunny for all of the fans during the entirety of the weekend. A bit of a bobble in qualifying caused us to start in 13th position for the first race. We made it all the way up to position 8 before sliding back to 11th crossing the stripe. Our second race was filled with misfortune as a car in front of us spun, causing us to break the front nose (we had nowhere to go), then a car behind us hit us (he had nowhere to go), breaking our diffuser. All in all we were a lap down and I found myself in 20th with a broken finger which doesn’t sound fun at all, but I must say that trying to drive a car with a bent front end and no rear diffuser at 100+ mph mid corner is very exciting.

Again, there was not much time before our next race which just so happened to be my first oval race! Luckily I got a day of testing in at LaCrosse speedway before the race. Our test got delayed unfortunately as a badger that was quite fearless would not get off the track. It seems like more and more animals are starting to interfere with races. Nevertheless, we still got in some good track time and were directly off to Lucas Oil Raceway for Round 7.

We were fairly fast during practice but track conditions severely changed for qualifying which was the following day. After a near brush of the wall in qualifying we would start dead last for the race. We managed to get up to p11 on the start and worked our way up to p9 as we crossed the start/finish line. It was a great learning experience and we continued our improvement as we reached our 2nd top 10 finish of the year. I turned into a spectator that Saturday and Sunday for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 as well as the unveiling of the new USF17 car (if you haven’t seen it, be sure to look on the USF2000 website). The Indianapolis 500 was one of the best races I’ve watched in a while and ultimately came down to great strategy and fuel mileage. The atmosphere was amazing with 400,000 race fans gathering for racings greatest spectacle.

We are now well into the month of June and a lot has gone on so far (with lots more to come). We recently partnered with a non-profit organization called Shelter to Soldier. Their organization rescues dogs from animal shelters and pairs them with post 9/11 veterans who battle post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is great to be a part of this organization so please be sure to watch out for our events later in the year. June 8-9 was also the series test at Mid-Ohio. The Mazda Road to Indy does a great job of getting us as much track time as possible. We had a total of 10 sessions and 6 hours of track time. Our best result came on the 2nd day where we finished practice 6 in position 3. We also finished our last session of the day inside the top 10 even after experiencing engine issues. To top off the month of June, I recently took part in the Danny Thomas St. Jude celebrity golf invitational in Detroit, MI. The event paired professional baseball, hockey, and football players, and news hosts with local supporters. All in all, we raised over $150,000, all of which went to support the children of St. Jude! I am now writing this from the airport and am on my way to Road America for Rounds 8 and 9. I am very much looking forward to competing on this iconic track along with running in front of the now over 100,000 fans that will be in attendance.

Thank you to Mazda, Cooper Tires, Team USA Scholarship, and all our other supporters for allowing us to compete in such a great series!


Goodbye to the Off-season

Turns 3, 4 and 5 at Circuit of the Americas

Turns 3, 4 and 5 at Circuit of the Americas

San Diego, CA

Off-season? Nope!  It has been a long, quiet, and busy few months for us here at Dickerson Racing. The end of 2015 was the start of something great for us. Winning the Skip Barber Championship left us with a big choice on our hands. Straight after flying home from the Championship shootout, I was back on a plane to Circuit of the Americas where nearly all of the Mazda Road to Indy teams were testing. I had the opportunity to talk to many teams, drivers, and officials, gathering as much information as possible. It was awesome seeing the level of professionalism and competitiveness everyone was displaying. About a month goes by as I continued to try and gather information, references, and ultimately make one of the biggest decisions of my career. After doing all of this and participating in a couple of test days at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, I finally made my decision.

Great testing with Afterburner Autosport

Great testing with Afterburner Autosport

As I’m sure many of you have heard, we recently signed with Afterburner Autosport for the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. We will be running the Soul Red colors identifying myself as Mazda’s scholarship driver. We have run a total of 4 test days at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. The first day was a “learning experience” to say the least. Downforce, better tires, more tires, and effective brakes - all of these were things I had to get used to in a short amount of time. The team did a great job of getting me acclimated to the car though. As I was getting more and more comfortable with the car, our speed continued to get better. It was extremely fun getting to work with my own engineer, giving feedback on the car, feeling the changes made, and seeing the results. By the end of day 2 I had made significant progress with my driving but there was definitely room for improvement. I was physically drained after the 2 days and knew I needed to improve my stamina for the upcoming season. That led me to running, biking, and swimming for about 40 miles a week, helping me lose 15 pounds in 2 months. Perfect timing for our second round of testing at Buttonwillow! We continued to improve and were getting very close to competitive race pace.

We are now only 2 days away from getting on track for the first official series test days at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. I can’t wait to finally hop in the car and see how we stack up against a very competitive field of over 20 cars!

I can’t thank all of those enough who have made this opportunity possible. A super big thank you to Mazda Motorsports, Team USA Scholarship, SafeisFast, Sparco, Molecule Sports, and Crow Enterprizes, and all of our friends and family who continue to ride this awesome train with us. This is going to be one great year.

All the best,



Team Announcement

The time has finally come! We are extremely proud to announce that we will be running with Afterburner Autosport for our rookie year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 series powered by Mazda. Hot off of a top 5 finish in the Formula Ford Festival while representing the United States for the Team USA Scholarship courtesy of Jeremy Shaw, I was awarded a $200,000 scholarship to compete in the 2016 USF2000 championship as a Mazda scholarship driver after winning the Skip Barber Championship Shootout in November of 2015. This is an extreme honor as I will be the only driver in the field sporting the classic Soul Red Mazda paint scheme.

The series will take us across the country and into Canada for a 16 race, 8 weekend schedule. We will be competing against some of the finest talent in the nation, but we strongly believe that with support of Mazda Motorsports, Afterburner Autosport, Molecule Sports, Cooper Tires, Team USA Scholarship, and all of our friends and family, that this will be a year to remember. Be sure to read our official driver announcement to get insight on the team’s and our thoughts for this upcoming year.

Read more here.

All the best,