Jamie Conroy eyes American big-time
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KIWI HOPEFUL HAS POWERFUL FRIEND, WRITES MATTHEW HANSEN
Jamie Conroy is the latest young Kiwi driver to push for a racing career in America.
The Invercargill man will be making the journey to the US next month to watch open-wheel classes.
His goal is to find a full-time slot for next year, following Kiwi IndyCar racer Scott Dixon.
“It’s going to be a very valuable experience for me to see first-hand how racing at the highest levels in America is done, and will help me to build a stronger, more complete understanding of the next few steps for me,” said Conroy.
After taking an emphatic championship win in Formula Ford last year, Conroy advanced to the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) this year. The Mobil driver showed plenty of promise, his season highlighted by a win at Teretonga against international competition.
“Coming from Formula Ford into TRS was such a big step,” he said. “The new TRS car in particular brings a whole new level of drivers, engineering and driver coaching. It’s essentially European top level single-seater racing coming to New Zealand for five weeks.”
The TRS series is famed for being a stepping stone for young drivers. Shane van Gisbergen, Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy and current Formula 1 driver Daniil Kyvat are among those who have come through its ranks.
Lance Stroll (Canada) and Brandon Maisano (France) were two drivers Conroy faced in the championship this year; both have progressed to the European F3 championship.
“It’s pretty cool to know that you’ve raced with guys like that. It helps to give you the confidence to make that next step,” said Conroy.
During his three months in the US, Conroy will be paying close attention to the Mazda Road to Indy series and the Pro Mazda Series. Both are considered springboards for those wanting to get into the Indy Lights Series and the IndyCar series.
A recurring name in the story of Conroy’s journey to America is Steve Horne. One of New Zealand’s unsung sporting characters, he won an Indy 500 crown and numerous CART championships during his time as a team manager and owner in the US from the mid-80s to late-90s.
Horne was one of the people who helped put together this opportunity for Conroy — and this will not be the first time Horne has helped a driver realise their dream.
“When Scott Dixon first went over to the US, he was just meant to be going over for a couple of months to check it out, and one of the guys he went over to see was Steve Horne,” said Conroy.
“Steve has a great reputation in the US and a lot of contacts, which he’s organised for me to get in touch with when I arrive over there. “He’s certainly been a great help at this early stage of my career.”
Conroy is expected to return to New Zealand at the end of his trip to start preparing for a return to the TRS series at the start of next year.