Jon Super / AP

Alexander Rossi, a Grass Valley native, wants to be fitted for a seat in a Formula One ride. Rossi, 22, was the top rookie in the GP2 class last year.

Local motor sports: Rossi has high expectations in open-wheel racing

Published: Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 - 11:11 pm

Alexander Rossi accepted the 2013 GP2 Rookie of the Year award. But to the Grass Valley native, that accolade seems more like a consolation prize. The championship in Formula One racing’s version of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series is really what Rossi coveted.

“Every time I drive, I’m looking to win and I’m always going for the championship,” said Rossi, the 22-year-old GP2 and reserve F1 driver for Great Britain-based Caterham Racing. “I missed the first GP2 race last season because (Caterham) replaced the driver they had. But I finished ninth (in GP2 season points) and I learned a lot.”

Rossi is poised to become the only United States-born F1 driver this season if he gets the nod from his team to drive one of two F1 cars. When he’s not competing in a GP2 race, it’s Rossi’s job to test Caterham’s F1 cars and get them ready for F1 drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson.

Rossi spent his three offseason months at his family’s home in Grass Valley and moved back to his London flat last week. But he’s rarely there, he said. Instead, he’s crossing the globe testing GP2 and F1 cars when he isn’t racing.

The GP2 season begins April 4-6 at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain, the first of 11 races through November. In October, Rossi will race on the streets of Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics were held. Two weeks later, he’ll help Caterham Racing at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

“I’m going to be very busy,” Rossi said. “And I’m really looking forward to that race in Austin. It will be the highlight of the season.”

McMahan scores first Outlaws victory, leads series

Elk Grove native Paul McMahan started the World of Outlaws season with a hot foot, winning the main event Wednesday in Las Vegas to take the series lead. Grass Valley native Brad Sweet, who won the season opener Feb. 14 in Volusia, Fla., is second in the standings.

“It’s pretty cool,” McMahan said in a release. “I can check Vegas off my bucket list now, and I’ve got a little more money to play slot machines this weekend.”

McMahan has a 12-point lead (588-576) over Sweet. Each has a victory, three top-five finishes and four top 10s this season. The difference has been McMahan’s two pole positions.

Marysville looks for chance to race

Marysville farmers want more rain, but Marysville Raceway Park promoter Paul Hawes might feel differently.

Rain postponed the annual Sherman Toller Memorial race last weekend that promised to bring fast sprint-car drivers out of their winter hibernation. The race, which pays $2,500 to the winner, has been rescheduled for Oct. 4.

Each year, Hawes pencils in an ambitious racing schedule only to see rain cancel or postpone one or more events.

Hawes hopes for racing weather March 15, when the California Sprint Car Civil War Series for 360 cubic-inch winged sprinters comes to town.

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Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at

Read more articles by Mark Billingsley

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