Christian Weir continues his rapid rise up the USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires ladder (formerly the Road to Indy), joining longtime racing engineer Tim Neff and the TJ Speed Motorsports team on the third rung of the vaunted driver development system, USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires.
Weir and TJ Speed will “meet in the middle” as the high school sophomore graduates from the second step of the ladder, USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires, while the TJ Speed team joins the USF Pro Championships after contesting a partial INDY NXT (formerly Indy Lights) season in 2022.
Growing up in Naperville, Ill., Weir began racing karts at age 11, competing in events at Autobahn Country Club in nearby Joliet and earning numerous local and national victories and championship titles before moving into cars in 2021.
Weir immediately made his presence known, driving an impressive array of cars that first season.
He earned the FRP Eastern Pro 4 USF Pro Championships with six victories and podiums in six of eight races, then made five F4 US Championship Powered by Honda starts, where he garnered two podium finishes. Jumping into his father’s Radical sports car at Road America, Weir became the youngest-ever Radical Cup winner by capturing four Radical Cup North America victories.
“Every single weekend — if not every single day — had something to do with racing,” says Weir. “It turned out I was good at it, and it evolved quite quickly.”
Weir capped off his impressive debut season by contesting eight USF2000 races, earning three top-10 finishes, one fastest race lap and capturing the AiM Move of the Year. He went on to finish eighth in the USF2000 series last year, taking two podiums and 11 top-10 finishes, and earning his first series pole, at Barber Motorsports Park.
All of this before his 16th birthday.
To what does Weir attribute his rapid rise? In a word: team.
“My manager and coach, Richard Lyons, has guided us through all of this,” says Weir. “I met him at my first USF2000 test and he’s been working with us ever since. Every decision that he’s helped us make has been right so far.”
Weir’s father has been a member of Autobahn Country Club for 10 years, and it was at Autobahn that the family first met fellow member Peter Dempsey, who owns Turn 3 Motorsport. Weir signed on with Turn 3 for his 2021 and 2022 USF2000 campaigns but made the decision to move to TJ Speed this season.
“I’m still good friends with Peter Dempsey and the whole team,” says Weir. “It was a very successful season in 2022, but I always want more. It’s a great opportunity to race with Tim Neff, who has such a long history of success in the ladder system.”
Neff won three INDY NXT championship titles (2004, ’06, and ’07) as an engineer with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, and won races with Belardi Auto Racing and Juncos Racing. He branched out on his own several years ago and enjoyed immediate success, winning the 2021 and ’22 Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda team and driver titles.
Francesco Pizzi and Lirim Zendeli round out the TJ Speed driver lineup, and both bring a great deal of U.S. and European racing experience.
Pizzi, coming off a season in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, earned a Rolex 24 class victory at Daytona last month in the LMP2 category with Proton Competition, while Zendeli has competed in FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3. Both drivers have FR America’s experience as well, and Weir knows he’ll be able to absorb a wealth of information this season.
“Looking at the drivers’ list in USF Pro this year, it’s going to be so competitive with so many experienced drivers,” he says. “Most of them have two or three times the number of race starts that I have. It’s going to be tough, but my times in testing have been competitive. When it comes to racing, that will be interesting, but using the experience that my teammates and the team have, I feel as though I can be battling in the top five.”
With nine test days under his belt, Weir has had the chance to come to grips with the new machinery and enhance his own mental database.
“There have been some challenges in getting to know the Tatuus IP-22, mostly due to a lack of experience in understanding the car,” he explains. “I adjusted and adapted to the USF2000 car really well, but whenever I have a bit of understeer or oversteer in this car, I’m not as well versed in managing that. But I’ve found time in every test, so my lap times are getting faster. I’m happy with my progress so far.”