Already looking ahead to 2008 and beyond, second-year Indy Pro Series team Michael Crawford Motorsports has signed 18-year-old karting stand-out Cole Mathewson to a development and testing programme.

The programme will begin in September and will continue through 2008 with an initial focus on road course racing.

The team plans to enter Mathewson in a select number of Indy Pro Series races in 2008 with the aim of expanding to a full-time programme in 2009.

"I have had the pleasure of watching Cole dominate races and win championships over the past three seasons in Great Lakes Superkarts! USA," said team owner Michael Crawford, whose team boasts seven top-10 finishes this season. "He works very hard at racing yet makes it look very easy. I believe that he has the qualities necessary to become a successful professional racer.

"The team is looking forward to our first test with Cole to begin the process of taking him to the Indy Pro Series, the official developmental series of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500."

Mathewson's racing resume includes championships in each year of karting, beginning at age 13 with Junior Briggs and moving to Senior TAG and then quickly on to the 125 shifter class by the time he was 15. He won the KRA Series Junior Briggs Championship at New Castle Motorsports Park in 2004. In 2005 and 2006, he won the Great Lakes Superkarts! USA Pro Tour S-1 class.

This year, he has split his time between World Karting Association Manufacturer's Cup events in the ICC class as well as the TAG class and the Stars of Karting Series running the ICC class, competing with the best kart drivers in the country including Indy Pro Series driver Matt Jaskol.

While the jump from 125 shifters to the 420-hp Indy Pro Series cars is a big one, Mathewson is confident that a very structured and measured programme of testing prior to entering race events will result in a successful transition.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to move up," Mathewson said. "Indy has always been my drive, and this is the biggest step I could make. I'm looking forward to working with Michael Crawford and the team."