INDIANAPOLIS – Belardi Racing took a chance on Aaron Telitz this offseason. I don’t mean that in a negative way either. He’s deserving on any ride he gets so don’t take that wrong. It was the normal racing circumstances that nearly kept another talented driver off the grid. Here’s why.
In 2016, Telitz, 26, won six races with Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda competition. He’d win the championship as a result of that. In fact, he had 15 top five finishes in 16 tries that year. Luckily, he had the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship money to advance up to the Indy Lights Series for last season. He’d land with Belardi and even won his first career start in St. Pete. He would also book end the season and win the season finale at Watkins Glen as well. In total, Telitz had two wins, four podiums and nine top five finishes. He’d come home sixth in the season championship.
Unfortunately though, he didn’t have the scholarship money anymore moving forward. Unless he would win an Indy Lights championship, he would have to find funding to keep going in this sport. Belardi took a shot on bringing him back anyways. They knew that the talent was there. Even without a ton of funding, they felt that the Wisconsin native would be a future champion.
But, bad luck struck in the season opening weekend a few weeks ago in St. Pete. Telitz, initially won the pole for the season opener, but in qualifying for the second race that would run a day later, he crashed hard into a concrete barrier. Telitz would be okay, but the car wasn’t. His current car wasn’t able to race anymore. In came an unlikely source. Carlin, who ran in the series the last few years, moved up to INDYCAR competition this season. They had some spare Lights cars in their Florida shop. They let Belardi have one for Telitz. They wouldn’t have it ready for the season opener on Saturday, but the team worked literally all night and got it setup and ready to run in the second race of the season on Sunday.
On the opening lap, another driver forced Telitz into the wall again. One race weekend, a DNS and first lap crash. Luckily, another team overlooked all of that and kept their eye on the talented driver. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports invited Telitz to test in their Verizon IndyCar Series machine on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Telitz, shared the No. 5 Honda with James Hinchcliffe. It was a dream come true.
SPM officials say that they’ve had their eye on Telitz for the last few years and this was a shot to take an even closer look.
Look out for this kid in the future. He has a shot to be something special. Teams are really starting to notice now.