Good article on Speed TV, by Cassio Cortes on why there is a lack of U.S. drivers at the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One, and even at the top level of U.S. Open Wheel Motorsports. There are more Brazilians competing in Champ Car and IRL than Americans, at one point there were more Mexicans in Champ Car than Americans.
Quantity, not quality, is the answer here. The fact is, there are more talented Europeans and South Americans available than there are Americans, irrespective of how their amount of talent compares against each other.
The reason is that countries like Brazil have great Karting competitions at the very junior level. People in the U.S., obsessed by NASCAR have not quite gone this route, despite the fact that skills from Karting are applicable in any discpline of motorsports.
So, if you want your kid to learn the craft to follow into Speed's footsteps, or to one day shine at Indianapolis or Long Beach, you need to put him or her aboard a low-powered, mid-engined, open-wheel road racer, also known as a kart. And then hope he or she is so talented, some corporate head will be convinced to swim against the stock car racing current
read the whole article here.