Ben Auriemma Named to Michael Shank Racing Junior Development Team


3b7b6594-a7b4-4ad5-83a0-1778de95b42dPataskala, Ohio (1 July 2014) With over two decades of team ownership under his belt, Mike Shank knows as well as anyone that planning ahead is critical. He also knows that the path from karting to the top of the sport is one that requires talent, support, and most of all, opportunity.

Looking to create that all-important opportunity, the Ohio-based IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar team owner has named Ben Auriemma to join the squad as a junior development driver.

Following a path that many a racer ahead of him have followed, including 2014 Indianapolis 500 race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Auriemma  has impressed in his early races as he made the transition from karting to formula car competition with Skip Barber.

The connection to the team, as so many have been through the years, came via Michael Shank Racing driver and 2012 Rolex 24 Champion Ozz Negri, who has worked with young Auriemma in karting.

“Ozz was the one who first put Ben on our radar, as he’s been coaching him in karts for a while now,” said Shank. “Our first steps with Ben will be to have him be integrated into the team as much as we can and just expose him to as much of what goes into a race weekend as possible. All of those experiences, with the debriefs and how that translates into what we do with the car to him just being in the pits to see what we do with strategy and executing stops, that will all be invaluable to him in the future.”

The youngster, who just finished his sophomore year of high school where he has excelled at math and science, currently holds the lead in the Skip Barber Summer Series championship after getting a winning start to the 2014 season.

“I’ve really enjoyed the move to Skip Barber because it takes out so many of the variables that as a driver you don’t have control over,” said Auriemma. “To be in equal cars and have the same tire allotment and really be on a more level field, it’s been really rewarding for me. Every step up for me, from first karting to now moving into formula cars at a young age, has been about being in environments that push me, and I think that has helped me progress much faster.”

That Ben focused in on motorsports was not too surprising of a development after first being exposed to the sport by his father Michael Auriemma, who himself has raced in a number of big events, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

“Ben surely got the bug from me, but he is in a position to take it much further having started so much earlier in his life and already showing so much just natural talent,” said Michael Auriemma. “This is a great opportunity for Ben, and I’m really grateful to Ozz (Negri) and Mike (Shank) for making this possible for Ben.”

From a racing perspective, Ben Auriemma is still focused on his Skip Barber exploits and having a run at the 2014 championship, but the New York based youngster is already also thinking a little bit further to the future.

“Racing is what I love and I want to make a living doing it,” said Auriemma. “Right now, I am focused on going as far as I can in Formula cars, but I know that there are other avenues to look at and it is great to have this chance with Mike Shank to look at the sports car side of things for the future.”

Auriemma got his first on-site exposure to the team last weekend at Watkins Glen International, where he was on hand for the full range of team activity, from debriefs to driver appearances. The young racer is set to don his helmet next at Lime Rock Park for Rounds 7 & 8 of Skip Barber Summer Series competition on July 8-12.