PETALING JAYA: Weiron Tan is determined to remain in the United States and become the first Malaysian IndyCar driver.
After making his presence felt by finishing fourth overall in the recently-concluded Pro Mazda Championship, the 20-year-old is looking to take the next step up to Indy Lights Series next year.
The 16-race Indy Lights is the second tier of racing in the United States after IndyCar and Weiron has already been offered a seat from a number of teams.
But, as usual in motorsports, it’s all about funding and Weiron is aware of the hurdles ahead.
“It’s quite a stressful period for me as we have to come up with enough funding by the end of the year,” said Weiron, who raced for Andretti Autosport in the Pro Mazda Championship this year.
“I need about US$1.25mil (RM5.625mil) to race in the Indy Lights, which is the equivalent of Formula 3 in Europe.
“My family and a few sponsors have backed me for this year’s campaign but it’s so much tougher now with the lower rate of our currency.
“The series has gotten more expensive over the years. I’m looking outside Malaysia for sponsorship at the same time.”
Kuala Lumpur-born Weiron feels that he’s mentally and physically ready to move to a higher championship.
“People are aware of what I’m doing in the US after my campaign. I scored the most pole positions, race wins and fastest laps in the season.
“Unfortunately, I also finished out of the top 10 on a few occasions and that cost me dearly in the end,” said Weiron, who made the podium six times, including four race wins.
Weiron believes that becoming an IndyCar driver is a more realistic goal than gunning for a Formula One drive.
“For most drivers, making it to Formula One is the ultimate dream. But, if you look at it today, I think it’s getting unrealistic because it’s so expensive. Finding the backing to compete is so difficult in the current climate,” he said.
“IndyCar has a huge following, just like Formula One, and even the lower tier events attract massive crowds. Motor racing is media-driven in the States.”