Erwin Emerges At Mccormack

Last season, four Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers sat behind the wheel of the No. 30 G Force-Aurora. If McCormack Motorsports’ latest plans pay off, rookie Brandon Erwin will occupy the cockpit of the car for the duration of the 2001 season.

For Erwin, the deal represents the realization of a dream.

"My goal is to become a top Indy car driver," said the 25-year-old from Denton, Texas. "All of my life I've been hoping to get an opportunity to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

Erwin began his journey to Indy-style racing as far back as 1991, when he won the national karting championship. He went on to compete in the Hav-A-Tampa series, Southern United Professional Racing, Southern All Star Racing and the International Motor Contest Association. His most recent experience is in dirt late model cars and sprint cars at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas.

That’s a long way from Indy, in distance and talent, and Erwin knows it.

"Making it in the Indy Racing League won't be easy, but I've accepted the challenge and I'm ready to go right now," Erwin said.

Erwin’s first chance to test will be March 7 and 8 at Phoenix International Raceway. Ten days later the IRNLS season opens with the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200.

Last season at Phoenix, Ronnie Johncox finished 14th in the No. 30. By the time the season finale at Texas rolled around in October, J.J. Yeley was in the car. That’s also when Erwin toured the 1.5-mile, high-speed oval in a TeamXtreme car during his rookie test.

Team owner Dennis McCormack was impressed with Erwin’s run.

"It only took him 56 laps to complete his rookie test, and he ran five of his last 10 laps that day at speeds faster than 210 mph," McCormack said. "He ran faster than the team's regular driver (rookie of the year Airton Dare) had run in qualifying at the same track a few days earlier.

"Johnny Rutherford (a three-time Indy 500 winner who is now an IRNLS driver coach) was very pleased with him."

"I think Brandon is going to be a credit to the League," Rutherford said at the time. "I can't state enough how impressive he was in his rookie test."

Lanny Edwards has watched Erwin develop, and he sees something special in the University of North Texas student.

"From the start he has shown a strong awareness of his position on the track, the cars around him and a maturity in racing seldom seen in a rookie," said Edwards, Devil’s Bowl Speedway owner and promoter. "The USA sprint cars at Devil's Bowl are a very competitive and experienced class.

"Brandon has demonstrated on several occasions that he drives ahead of the car and avoids potential accidents. He is very impressive in heavy traffic situations."

Erwin’s addition at McCormack Motorsports is the latest change for the team. Last season, McCormack was a partner with longtime Indy car owner Jonathan Byrd in what was called Jonathan Byrd-McCormack Motorsports.

McCormack himself has been a part of auto racing for more than 30 years, with involvement in Trans Am, Formula 5000, CART and Indy Lights. He formed McCormack Motorsports in 1990. His drivers have included Raul Boesel, Fabrizio Barbazza, Randy Lanier, John Jones, Robbie Groff, Robby Unser, Jon Herb, Yeley and Johncox.

The team, based in Avon, Ind., has not announced its sponsor for the 2001 IRNLS season.

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