Mazda Road To Indy Notes

Mazda Road To Indy
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

by Paul Gohde

Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF 2000 series each ran two events during the days leading up to the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indy Lights: Colton Herta, son of former 500 driver Bryan Herta, led the final 15 laps to score a 5.15 sec win over Santi Urrutia in Friday’s Race 1. Pole winner Pato O’Ward was passed by Urrutia at the start and fell to 4th at the checkered flag. Wisconsinite Aaron Telitz was third…Colton Herta repeated his Race 1 win Saturday, by surviving a side-by-side duel with Santi Urrutia that resulted in Urrutia spinning out and finishing fourth in the slim seven-car field. Aaron Telitz took advantage of the incident and moved to second at the finish.

Pro Mazda: Parker Thompson and Scott Harrison won the two Pro Mazda races as the field, which included 10 rookies, stayed close to the leaders throughout each of the entire 25 lap events. Harrison started third in Race 1 and led 10 laps as he edged pole winner Oliver Askew by less than a second…Thompson started sixth in Race 2 and took the lead from seventh place starter Carlos Cunha on lap 17 as both fought their way through the 14 car field. Pole winner Askew again failed to take advantage of his up front start and fell to fourth at the end.

USF 2000: Alex Baron (no relation to former Indy car pilot Alex Barron), edged pole winner Kyle Kirkwood by just 0.434 seconds to win the USF 2000 Race1 that saw 20 cars start the event. Baron passed front row mate Kirkwood on lap 6 and held him off despite two caution periods that tightened up the field behind the leaders…Kirkwood started up front in Race 2 as Friday’s runner up led all 20 laps, edging Baron by 0.837 sec. Three caution flags (5 laps) slowed the field as six penalties were handed out for various rough driving issues.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”