Bommarito Automotive Group 500 could put young drivers on path to glory

MADISON, Ill. – Even the greats of racing had to start somewhere. You'll get to see some later this month when the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 comes to Gateway Motorsports Park.

It takes more than just a need for speed. Many start out very young learning to go-kart.

“It’s great to get into karting, you know? I think they actually have karting at the St. Louis track, so get in and see if you have a bug for it,” said driver Colton Herta.

Once you master the go-karts, you might be ready for your next ride. The Mazda Road to Indy is a three-step program for those who want to work their way up to IndyCar. Some drivers start as young as 14.

“It’s an evolution process that takes the kids all the way up,” said driver Dan Anderson. “Most of the drivers in the Indy 500 are from our Mazda Road to Indy.”

Organizers said it’s good practice on and off the track, where drivers use more technology and data to improve their skills, focus on their health and training, and learn how to interview with the media.

“The Mazda Road to Indy, in my opinion, is the best path in racing, because winners in each category get scholarships to go to the next level and racing is expensive, so without the help from Mazda and a couple scholarships, I wouldn’t be here,” said driver Aaron Telitz.

Kyle Kaiser won the Indy Lights race and scholarship in 2017, allowing him to move on to the big leagues. Now, he's racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“It’s crazy. I’m looking at some of the people in the field. These are the guys that I was watching when I was 7-years-old, looking up to, hoping to and aspiring to be like,” Kaiser said.

A dream that's become a reality as others try to follow that same track to success.

If you want to chance to meet these drivers and others, there’s going to be a fan fest on Thursday, August 23 at Ballpark Village from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.