CIK: JRCS: Sears Point to open karting center

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SONOMA, Calif. - Sears Point Raceway will feature a different kind of road-racing beginning with the 2002 season when it unveils its much-anticipated state-of-the-art karting facility as part of its $50 million Modernization Plan. The Sears...

SONOMA, Calif. - Sears Point Raceway will feature a different kind of road-racing beginning with the 2002 season when it unveils its much-anticipated state-of-the-art karting facility as part of its $50 million Modernization Plan.

The Sears Point Karting Center is expected to be operational in March, 2002. It has been designed to international standards and will be able to host international karting championships. The Center will be operated by the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, which has been at Sears Point Raceway since 1996.

"I believe that karting is the fastest growing segment of auto racing," said Ken Ude, president of the Jim Russell School. "World champions like Michael Schumacher, Gil DeFerran and Juan Montoya all use karting to keep their skills sharp. The Sears Point facility will be the finest karting track and racing experience on the West Coast. For years we have been asked 'When are you getting into karting?' Now we can definitely say in March of 2002."

The track has been designed to CIK/FIA standards. It will be three-quarters of a mile in length, 28 feet wide and feature up to five different track configurations. Most tracks in California are only one-half mile long and much narrower. The size of the Sears Point track will also make it appropriate for high-speed shifter kart racing.

"We are excited with the overall track design and we're looking forward to expanding the Sears Point racing program into one of the most dynamic segments of our sport," said Steve Page, president and general manager at Sears Point Raceway.

The Center will be built on the south side of the Sears Point Raceway property. Jim Russell's karting school will offer a wide variety of racing programs that will create a ladder system, beginning with Kadet Programs and moving through Sprint kart classes, to Shifter classes, to an arrive-and-drive kart racing series that feeds into the USAC Formula Russell Championship Series in full sized racecars. Ultimately, the ladder leads to an opportunity with a USF 2000 team.

Ude said he also plans on developing a Jim Russell Kart Racing Series, similar to the program that the Jim Russell School currently offers for its open-wheel racing students. In addition, the Jim Russell School will also offer kart sales, open track days, season passes, maintenance and storage at the Center.

The Jim Russell School has been teaching the art of auto racing since 1957, and past graduates include Formula One standout Jacques Villeneuve, former CART champion Jimmy Vasser, Emerson Fittipaldi, Casey Mears and San Rafael resident Memo Gidley. When not in operation by the Jim Russell School, Sears Point is open to hosting national, as well as international, karting events.

"I believe this will be the only karting facility in California specifically built to CIK standards, so we could host anything," Ude said.

For more information on the Jim Russell karting programs contact the school at (800) 733-0345 or monitor their Web-site at www.russellracing.com. You can also visit www.searspoint.com.

The Sears Point Karting Center is part of the raceway's ongoing $50 million Modernization Plan that will transform the facility into one of the premier road-racing and entertainment venues in the world. The comprehensive two-year project began in September, 2000, and is expected be nearly complete by the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup, June 20-23, 2002.

-SPR-

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , KART , OPENWHEEL