Toowoomba teen still uncertain on future USF2000 starts
Rookie USF2000 race winner Cameron Shields is still chasing backing as he bids to return to the IndyCar feeder series for the final two events of the season.
The Toowoomba racer was forced to sit out the last event at Mid-Ohio in late July due to a funding shortfall, while the Portland race weekend is a fortnight away.
Shields will attend both events regardless, as he did at Mid-Ohio, and is flying back to the United States this coming week to try and land further sponsorship.
“Right now, between myself and the team at Newman Wachs, we’re all seeking different avenues of funding to see out the remainder of the season,” Shields told Speedcafe.com.
“We have Portland with IndyCar in a couple of weeks’ time and then about a month after that we will be racing with IndyCar again at Laguna Seca, so both awesome tracks and of course I want to be in the car.”
The setback has disrupted what had been a promising season for the 18-year-old who has been a series runner-up in both Australian Formula Ford and Australian Formula 3.
Shields bagged his first race win in the United States in his first race on an oval, when USF2000 ran on Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Raceway, just up the road from The Brickyard, two nights before the 500.
“It was absolutely incredible,” he exclaimed.
“It was my first ever international race win, it was my first time on an oval, my oval racing debut, and also it was the first race win for Newman Wachs Racing in USF2000 as well.
“For all of us it was certainly a very big evening and to have the support of the whole team – and there was a whole lot of Australians there as well, actually – it was absolutely awesome.
“I know it really impressed a lot of people and that certainly gained a lot of support from Will Power as well after that race win, so it was certainly perfect timing for everyone.”
Power, himself from the same town in southern Queensland, has in fact taken Shields under his wing, providing guidance in matters on- and off-track.
“He’s just been trying to put me in contact with any people that he thinks would be helpful for me right now and just giving me any sort of advice with the motor racing in the US in general,” explained Shields.
“Obviously he’s been there and done it himself and he’s one of the most successful drivers ever in history over there, so he knows what he’s doing.
“(He has given me) driving tips, different nuances about particular tracks, because we race at all the same tracks as them, so anything like that, he tries to help me out where he can.”
Shields is not the only driver from junior Australian series who is showing his talent in USF2000, the first rung on the Road To Indy ladder, this year.
New Zealander Hunter McElrea, son of Carrera Cup and Australian GT team owner Andy, is currently second in the series with two race wins to his name.
Portland will host two USF2000 races from August 30-September 1, while the IndyCar Series is in action this weekend at Pocono.