Recently, we sat down with Group-A Racing’s Jonathan Scarallo to discuss his participation in the series and the future for Group-A Racing.
Radical Cup – Jonathan, can you please provide us with a brief history of Group-A Racing?
Jonathan Scarallo - We started in 1996, as a program for my older brother’s racing in USF2000. We started running customers in 2009 when I stepped up into pro racing as a driver and at 17 years old, I also took over the day-to-day operations of the team. We have been very fortunate to run a variety of sports car and open wheel series, from Trans-Am, F4, F2000, USF2000, World Challenge, and Formula Lites, winning many races along the way. Naturally we are intense competitors, so we don’t feel like we’ve ever won enough, but when I take a step, I can’t help but be very proud. Most importantly, the thing I am proud of is after being in this business so long, it’s hard to find somebody to say something bad about us.
Radical Cup – When did you join Radical Cup?
Jonathan Scarallo - We joined the Blue Marble Radical Cup in 2020 when going through the process of getting our Radical dealership. We joined with a one car operation in PRO 1500 class with Steve Jenks. It was a fantastic start. In fifteen races we earned seven podium results, winning the final race and just missed out on the championship, finishing second.
Radical Cup – Why did you join Radical Cup?
Jonathan Scarallo - For the business of Group-A Racing, I was looking for another opportunity, specifically in sports car racing. Sports car racing has been on such a tremendous rise the last ten years not only in North America, but globally, and it’s only continuing to grow. As a business, it offered us to continue to work with young drivers, the same as we did in our open wheel history but also have a more mature driver base for some more stability in the business. When I came across the Radical Cup, I was blown away to see they recently had 37 cars at Road America, plus they were a support series to the NTT INDYCAR Series. Then I realized there was a dealership opportunity for us in the North East. Our dealership just turned two years old this past week and it’s been the best decision of my life. It has transformed our business, allowing us to expand at a rate that would not have happened if we wouldn’t have made the decision to make the switch and join the Radical Cup program.
Radical Cup – How has the 2022 season been for you, and can you tell us a bit about your current drivers?
Jonathan Scarallo - This year we have been running 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 is a big undertaking, but we are up for the constant challenge of both winning and success.
We still have Sonoma to go, and the World Finals in Vegas, but there are so many highlights for us. At Barber Motorsports Park and Road America, we had all our drivers on the pole position in all three classes for the same race. It was very cool to have a sweep like that. We have come up just short of winning all three classes in the same race, which has never been done before and a goal of ours for sure.
Entering Aurora Straus and instantly having her on the podium all three races during her debut at Watkins Glen is another great highlight of our season as well. The amount of progress she made from her first test in March to her first race was huge and very rewarding for all at Group-A Racing. Reid Stewart came to us last year and where he is today– a multi race winner– is a night and day difference. Jack Yang never drove a car before getting a Radical from our dealership, yet he has been on the podium many times this year and earned a win on track at Utah, and has also being racing in the UK Radical series. All these success stories really showcase our coaching and how we develop our drivers into podium winners.
Radical Cup – What are the future goals of Group-A Racing?
Jonathan Scarallo - No doubt, to win a championship. We have been the bridesmaid many times in many series including Radical Cup but haven’t won the title yet. That needs to change and is another major goal that we are working very hard to achieve, and heading into the final round we are in the lead of the Platinum class with Steve Jenks, while leading the Teams’ championship in PRO 1500.
Radical Cup – What do you do for Group-A Racing locally to attract drivers to your program to build Radical Cup perception?
Jonathan Scarallo - We are a team in Radical Cup, and a dealer for Radical Motorsports in the North East. We do about eighteen demo days a year at the various country club tracks in our region, promoting the brand, creating car sales and with the car sale customers, comes new potential drivers for the Radical Cup. We also have been active in NASA and SCCA in our region, again promoting the brand, promoting Radical Cup, moving drivers up from club racing to pro racing and more. I have been using my contacts from my fifteen years in the open wheel arena to spread the gospel of Radical Cup, get them in for a test, or one-off race weekend. I am a member at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP), which gives me access to 45-member days a year for people to come and do tests. Reece Everard is a great example of an open wheel contact that learned of Radical Cup through us. He came to NJMP to test last October and then joined us for a 2022 campaign.
Radical Cup – What is the environment like at Radical Cup?
Jonathan Scarallo - On track the competition is very intense and everybody is out for themselves. However, things are extremely friendly in the paddock, there is a Blue Marble cocktail party every Friday, all the teams have lunch together and often we go out to dinner with fellow competitors. The Radical Cup program has a more family feel than any other series I’ve been involved in. We all get along very well, and we help each other when needed. There are always smiling faces in the paddock which is nice to see. We honestly have the best of both worlds, fun and friendly, but intense and close hard racing. I’ve never experienced such a thing before and think the competitors that join the series will be surprised on the great atmosphere.
Radical Cup – What are the key benefits of Radical Cup over other series?
Jonathan Scarallo - I love how Radical Cup offers tremendous benefits for both young career aspiring kids and the more gentlemen drivers. We average over five hours of track time per weekend, triple header events, live stream, numerous INDYCAR weekends, fantastic cars with large fields of thirty cars or so most events, what’s not to like?
For the young kids we have three platforms of speed for them to grow into straight from the karting level. While it’s sports car racing, it’s a prototype with a very similar driving experience to open wheel. The alumni have proven the series does a tremendous job of getting drivers ready for higher levels of both open wheel and sports car racing. The Radical Cup program is a tremendous teaching platform used around the world. In Radical Cup the drivers also get to learn multi-class race traffic management, how to perform pit stops under pressure with the race three mandatory pit stop, and yet all done at a budget of basically the most affordable open wheel series in the world, but with much faster cars.
For the gentlemen drivers, what else can you do for this budget: track time on high profile events with INDYCAR and at this performance. The Radical SR10 has on-par performance with LMP3 and GT3, but our budgets are the same as 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 doesn’t want to go 175MPH at a track like Road America?
Radical Cup – If you could change one thing about the Radical Cup, what would you change?
Jonathan Scarallo - It is hard to pinpoint one thing but if I had to single out something I wish that it was more well known that the Radical Cup program is an affordable race series that challenges drivers and helps them learn skills to be the best they can be.
Radical Cup – Anything else of importance?
Jonathan Scarallo - When friends of mine from other arenas check out the paddock, they are always shocked by the quality of the paddock. The paddock presents itself well with hospitality tent, professional transporters, awnings etc. But the quality of crew members in this series is immense. Under my own tent our Engineers and Mechanics have successful INDYCAR and Formula One experience. Lenny Tumenas, who’s been full time in Radical with me since we joined in 2020, was with Chip Ganassi Racing and on Tony Kanaan’s car this year at the Indianapolis 500. Even the others are so deep with talent. Dave O’Neil with Esses Racing built HAAS F1 from the ground up with Gunther Steiner. Thomas Knapp with Wisko Racing has put cars on the pole position at the Indy 500 and won countless junior open wheel races. Steve Cameron, is a Radical dealer on the West Coast and enters his team. It’s impossible to summarize all the success his programs have had here in America in both open wheel & sports cars. It really is such a tremendous paddock that I am very proud to be a part of. When you win here you have accomplished something!
Catch Group-A Racing at the final round of the Blue Marble Radical Cup at Sonoma over the October 29-30 weekend, and the Radical World Finals, November 8-13 in Las Vegas. Visit www.radicamotorsport.com for more information.
Photo: Jonathan Scarallo, Group-A Racing
Interview by Mike Maurini, RTD Media