Recently, the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America sat down with Group-A Racing’s Jonathan Scarallo to discuss his involvement in the series and the future of Group-A Racing.
Jonathan, can you provide us with a brief history of the first group race?
We started in 1996, as a program to race my older brother in the USF2000. We started managing clients in 2009 when I got into pro racing as a driver and at the age of 17 I also took over the day-to-day operations of the team.
We have been so fortunate to power a variety of sports cars and open wheel series, from Trans-Am, F4, F2000, USF2000, World Challenge and Formula Lites, that we have won many races along the way.
Naturally, we’re tough competitors, so we don’t feel like we’ve won enough, but when I’m down, I can’t help but be very proud.
Most importantly, the thing I am most proud of is having been in this business for a long time but it is hard to find someone to say something bad about us.
When did you join the Radical Cup?
We joined the Blue Marble Radical Cup in 2020 when we were going through the process of acquiring our Radical agent. We joined the process of operating one car in the PRO 1500 class with Steve Jenks.
It was a great start. In 15 races, we had seven results on the podium, won the final race and just lost the championship, and finished second.
Why did you join Radical Cup?
For the Group-A Racing business, I was looking for another opportunity, specifically in sports car racing. Sports car racing has seen a huge rise in the past 10 years, not just in North America, but globally, and it continues to grow.
As a business, we have been offered to continue working with young drivers, as we have done in our open wheel history but also have a more mature driver base for more stability in the business.
When I came across the Radical Cup, I was amazed to see that they had recently had 37 cars in Road America, plus it was a support chain for the NTT IndyCar series. Then I realized there was a selling opportunity for us in the Northeast.
Our agency just turned two years old in the last week and it was the best decision of my life. It changed our business, allowing us to expand at a rate that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t made the decision to switch and join the Radical Cup.
How has the 2022 season been for you, and can you tell us a little bit about your current drivers?
This year we have run five drivers including Steve Jenks (Platinum Class), Reece Everard (Pro 1500), Aurora Straus (Pro 1500), Jack Yang (Pro 1500) and Reid Stewart (Pro 1340). It’s a big job, but we’re up for the constant challenge of winning and succeeding.
We still have Sonoma to go and the World Finals in Vegas, but there are plenty of highlights for us. At Barber Motorsports Park and Road America we had all of our drivers on top in all three categories for the same race. It was so cool to make a pass like that.
We went so far as to win all three classes in the same race, which has never happened before and an objective for us for sure.
Entering Aurora Straus and immediately being on the podium, all three races during her Watkins Glen debut is another great feature of our season as well. The amount of progress she’s made from her first test in March to her first race has been huge and so helpful to everyone in Group-A Racing.
Red Stewart came to us last year and where today – a multiple race winner – is the difference of day and night. Jack Yang had never driven a car before getting a Radical from our dealership, however he’s been on the podium several times this year and took a victory on the track in Utah and was also racing in the UK Radical Series.
All of these success stories really show our training and how we develop our drivers into podium winners.
What are the future goals of Group-A racing?
No doubt about winning a championship. We’ve been a bridesmaid many times in several series including Radical Cup but we haven’t won the title yet.
That needs to change and it’s another major goal we’re working hard to achieve and heading into the final round, we’re top of the platinum category with Steve Jenks, while leading the tag team championship in the PRO 1500.
What are you doing for a Group-A race locally to attract drivers into your program to build a radical perception of the Cup?
We are a team at the Radical Cup, and the dealer for Radical Motorsports in the Northeast. We do about eighteen day trials annually at various country club tracks in our area, promote the brand, create car sales, and with our car dealership clients come new potential Radical Cup drivers.
We’ve also been active at NASA and SCCA in our area, once again promoting the brand, promoting the Radical Cup, taking drivers from club racing to professional racing and more. I’ve been using my contacts for fifteen years in the open wheel arena to spread the Radical Cup gospel, get them for a test, or race a one-off on the weekend.
I’m a member of New Jersey Motorsports Park, which gives me access to 45 members a year for people to come and do exams.
Reece Everard is a great example of the open wheel connection who learned about the Radical Cup through us. He came to the NJMP for testing last October and then joined us for the 2022 campaign.
What does the environment look like in the Radical Cup?
On the right track, competition is stiff and everyone is out for themselves. However things are very cordial in the ring, there’s a Blue Marble cocktail party every Friday, all the teams have lunch together and we often go out to dinner with our fellow competitors, the Radical Cup has more of a family feel than any other series I’ve been to.
We all get along very well, helping each other when needed. There are always smiling faces in the ring which are good to see.
We honestly have the best of both worlds, fun and friendly races, but strong and close. I’ve never experienced such a thing before and I think competitors who join the series will be surprised by the great atmosphere.
What are the main benefits of Radical Cup over other series?
I love the way the Radical Cup brings tremendous benefits to both young aspiring careers and gentle drivers. We average over five hours of track time on weekends, triceps events, live streams, many IndyCar weekends, great field cars from thirty cars or even most events, what’s not to like?
For younger kids, we have three speed pads for them to grow straight from karting level. Although it is a sports car race, it is a prototype with a very similar driving experience to an open wheel. Alumni have proven that the series does a tremendous job in preparing drivers for the higher levels of both open car racing and sporty wheels.
Radical Cup is a massive educational platform that is used all over the world. In the Radical Cup, drivers also learn traffic management in multi-category races, and how to implement pit stops under stress with the three mandatory race stops, yet all done on a budget from the world’s most expensive open-wheel series, but with much faster cars.
For gentlemen drivers, what else you can do for this budget: Track time in highlights with IndyCar and in this performance.
The Radical SR10 has equal performance with the LMP3 and GT3, but our budgets are the same as the Mazda MX-5 Cup, so it’s a tremendous value for the dollar. You don’t have to deal with sharing your car, no BoP, plus who wouldn’t want to go 175 mph on a track like Road America?
If you could change one thing in the Radical Cup, what would you change?
It’s hard to say one thing but if I had to specify one I hope more is known that the Radical Cup is an affordable racing series that challenges drivers and helps them learn skills to be their best.
Anything else important?
When my friends from other yards check out the rink, they are always in shock with the quality of the rink.
The rink presents itself well with hospitality tent, professional transport carriers, awnings etc. But the quality of the crew in this series is phenomenal.
Under my own tent, our engineers and mechanics have a successful IndyCar and Formula One experience. Lenny Tumenas, who has been working full time with me since we joined in 2020, has been with Chip Ganassi Racing and Tony Kanaan’s car this year at the Indianapolis 500.
Even others have profound talent. Dave O’Neil with Esses Racing built the Haas F1 from the ground up with Gunther Steiner. Thomas Knapp of Wisko Racing put the cars first in the Indy 500 and won countless junior open wheel races. Steve Cameron is a radical West Coast dealer and joins his team.
It is impossible to sum up all the success that his programs here in America have had in both open-wheel cars and sports cars. It really is such a huge field that I am very proud to be a part of it. When you win here you have accomplished something!
Watch the Group A races in the final round of the Blue Marble Radical Cup in Sonoma on October 29-30, and the Radical World Finals, November 8-13 in Las Vegas. Visit www.radicalmotorsport.com for more information.
Interviewed by: Mike Moreni, RTD Media
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