Like most young drivers building a racing career, Austin Cindric wants to acquire as much seat time as possible; however, unlike many of his contemporaries, his time behind the wheel of a high performance car will span two continents in 2014.
This year, the 15-year-old Cindric will drive for Pabst Racing in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series and for Max Papis Racing in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. The former is an IndyCar development series in the United States, while the latter is a stock car circuit in Europe.
“It is quite the opportunity,” said the Mooresville resident, who is a freshman at Cannon School in Concord.
Cindric’s USF2000 season opens March 29 in St. Petersburg, Fla., while the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series kicks off April 12-13 in Valencia, Spain. Since the USF2000 races are held in conjunction with IndyCar Series events, Cindric’s father, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric, is able to attend his son’s races. However, when it comes to the six-race weekends in Europe, it will be his mother, Megan, who will accompany him.
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“My mom was excited for me, but with the school side of things, it was complicated. With me being a kid, I can kind of overlook those things, but she keeps me in check,” Cindric said about his mother, the daughter of the late Jim Trueman, who was a driver and team owner in sports car racing, an Indy Car team owner, and headed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as well as one of America’s most successful motel brands, Red Roof Inn.
The young Cindric began his racing career in Bandoleros and then advanced to Legend cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway before moving to the Skip Barber Formula Series. The 6-foot-2 Cindric made his USF2000 debut last year in a car owned by Andretti Autosport. The youngest driver ever in the open-wheel series, he captured two top-10s and acquired the Tilton Hard Charger Award in the season finale at Houston. Augie Pabst is his team owner this year.
In the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Cindric will share his ride with 21-year-old Italian Kevin Gilardoni. Cindric will compete in the open division while Gilardoni will seek the elite division title. The car will be prepared in Mooresville and then shipped to France where the Euro series is headquartered.
Competing on the two circuits means Cindric will switch constantly between open-wheel and stock cars. Initially, he expects the stock cars to present him with the greater challenge because he has a year of USF2000 behind him.
“He’s fortunate to have people like Max that believe in him and will give him an opportunity to pursue what his dream is,” Tim Cindric said. “For me, in this case, I’m just his dad. My day job is a lot easier than worrying about what his next steps are.
“He is trying to form a good foundation in all of these different types of cars. He is going to work with Ron Fellows (in a Corvette) the first of March at Spring Mountain Raceway outside Las Vegas. Then he’s going to Bondurant in Phoenix.
“He’s driven an F3 car at Sonoma in their school. He’s also going to test a (NASCAR) K&N car at Hickory in the next month or so. He doesn’t have an ambition yet as to which direction he wants to go. He feels he has a couple of years left to continue to experience different things at different tracks. I think that’s the right approach for him. He handles it very well.”
Cindric’s older brother, Tanner, also is involved in his racing as one of his sponsors. A high school senior, Tanner founded and owns the online apparel company Nightrain.