Young Drivers Come Together with Belardi Auto Racing to Honor Chris Griffis' Memory

Belardi Auto Racing PR

INDIANAPOLIS (October 31, 2011) - The team owners and young drivers of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series came together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend to honor the memory of Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Indy Lights team manager, Chris Griffis, at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test.

Griffis, who unexpectedly passed away in September, was widely known for testing during the off-season to scout and promote the young talents eager to join the IndyCar scene. He helped many young drivers who came through Sam Schmidt Motorsports reach their full potential and complete the ladder programs to move on to the IZOD IndyCar series. League officials set up the test to allow all teams in the USF2000, Star Mazda and Indy Lights series to test new and old drivers and determine who could be a good fit for the 2012 season.

Belardi Auto Racing welcomed F1600 driver Colin Thompson, USF2000's Roman Lagudi and Skip Barber National Champion Scott Anderson to test their USF2000 cars. Throughout the four practice sessions, the three Belardi cars were continually in the top-10. After encountering some engine problems with Lagudi's No. 4 machine, the team worked hard to fix them and Lagudi ended the weekend in P2, only 0.302 seconds behind Spencer Pigot. Anderson followed in P3, while Thompson finished the test in P6, both less than one second behind the session leader.

"I'm really happy with how the day went," Lagudi said after the fourth and final practice session. "It started out a little rough with some engine problems, but the final practice we got it all put together and managed to pull out some quick times. It was a great day. I'm proud to be a part of this Belardi team, and I think they would be a really good fit for me and I'm definitely looking forward to a future with them. I haven't been in the car since last season, so it's been a few months. Getting in the car for this test has been huge. I mean every opportunity I get to be in the seat will help me, and I'm really happy with how this test went."

In addition to the three USF2000 cars, Belardi Auto Racing welcomed back Jorge Goncalvez, one of their 2011 season drivers. Goncalvez was constantly in the top-five all weekend and pulled out a best lap time of 1:21.1314 on the last lap of the last practice session. He was only 1.1253 seconds behind Tristan Vautier who had the fastest times during both of Saturday's sessions.

"The Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test was a great weekend for Belardi Auto Racing," said Belardi Auto Racing team owner Brian Belardi. "We were able to find some improvements in the cars and got to test some talented kids. I think it was a great way to honor Chris [Griffis] and we are happy to utilize the extra testing time just as he always did. I'm really looking forward to the 2012 season, and we will certainly use the off-season to continue testing and finding the drivers that will be a perfect fit for our team next season."

About Roman

2012 Schedule:

Sebring International Raceway, Florida
March 14-16, 2012
(With American Le Mans)
Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida
March 23-25, 2012
(With IZOD IndyCar Series)
Lucas Oil Raceway, Indiana
May 26, 2012
(Night Before the 500 with USAC)
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
August 3-5, 2012
(With IZOD IndyCar Series and ALMS)
Road America, Wisconsin
August 17-19, 2012
(With American Le Mans)
Streets of Baltimore, Maryland
September 1-2, 2012
(With IZOD IndyCar Series and ALMS)
Virginia International Raceway
September 14-15, 2012
(With American Le Mans)