Ireland's Peter Dempsey became the latest hopeful to take advantage of Andersen Racing's ground-breaking open-wheel development programme by testing one of the RLR/Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway - and he is unlikely to be the last.
Dempsey finished third in the 2008 Star Mazda standings in a year that saw Andersen Racing win the teams' championship in both Mazda and US F2000 and, with the Florida-based team awarding tests at the next level for each of its full-season drivers, Dempsey joined Atlantics racer Jonathan Summerton, Pacific F2000 champion Jeff
Westphal and British F3 runner Alistair Jackson - all of whom were invited to join Andersen for the test - to also run on the short course at Sebring.
"The test went extremely well," Dempsey reported, "I had never driven a car like this before so it was all about getting seat time. It was great to get the opportunity to test the car, and I would like to thank Dan and John Andersen for giving me the opportunity.
"I really enjoyed driving the car and, considering the programme we ran, we were a lot closer to the pace than expected. We never got to run new tyres and, if we had everything 100 per cent, I feel we would have been right on pace with the frontrunners. I am really looking forward to driving in the series next year, so hopefully I can raise the budget."
The latest round of testing followed earlier outings for Jonathan Bomarito and Joel Miller at Sebring, and continued to add names to Andersen's mix for 2009.
"I am very impressed with the talent level of the drivers testing with us," said team manager and co-owner John Andersen, "I have been able to attend most of our test days this fall, and was really impressed. Hopefully, we'll be able to make some driver announcements soon."
Like Dempsey, Westphal was impressed with what he found in the Indy Lights car.
"I know I could get more out of the car with a bit more seat time," he noted, "The differences in weight, wheelbase, downforce and horsepower demanded a different approach that I feel like I have grasped, but you can always go a bit faster and find a little more time.
"It was my first time driving anything more than the two-litre Zetec car I competed in this year, so naturally adjustments were necessary for me to properly go about the day, but we finished off in good shape. We were starting to make set-up changes and feed back towards the end of the day. The track was way more bumpy than I expected but, after a few laps, I had the layout pretty much figured out. It was a good place to test though - it simulates a street circuit very well I'm told..."
Team USA scholarship winners Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden tested Andersen's Star Mazda cars on the short course at Sebring alongside Briton Richard Kent, who won the championship finale at Laguna Seca in an Andersen Racing.