SKIP BARBER RECEIVES RRDC'S PHIL HILL AWARD Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Skip Barber, founder of the Skip Barber Racing School, tonight was presented with the Road Racing Drivers Club's annual Phil Hill Award at the RRDC dinner held in Daytona ...
SKIP BARBER RECEIVES RRDC'S PHIL HILL AWARD
Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Skip Barber, founder of the Skip Barber Racing School, tonight was presented with the Road Racing Drivers Club's annual Phil Hill Award at the RRDC dinner held in Daytona USA.
Barber was honored for "outstanding service to road racing," by RRDC President Bobby Rahal, co-winner of the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Phil Hill, in 1961, became the first American to win the Formula 1 World Championship. Among his international wins is the 1964 Daytona 2000Km race, precursor to the Rolex 24.
"Skip helped revolutionize the process of training aspiring racers," said Rahal. "Before that, if you wanted to race, you had to attend SCCA-run schools. That also necessitated having a race car. Not every driver is mechanically-inclined to build one or has time to maintain one. Skip changed the matrix with low student-to-instructor ratios and by providing the cars."
Barber is one of a select few Americans to compete in the Formula One World Championship. He started racing in 1958 while studying at Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English.
As an SCCA amateur and professional series driver, Barber set 32 track records during his career. His belief that racing was "coachable" in the same manner as any other sport led him, in 1975, to create the Skip Barber Racing School -- and the Skip Barber Race Series the following year.
Ten years after starting with two borrowed Formula Fords and four students, Skip Barber Racing had become the world's largest racing and driving school. He sold the company in 1999 to a consortium of investors. Its fleet includes 120 race cars, 75 street performance vehicles, and 30 transport/support vehicles.
With 10 different racing schools, five street car driving schools, three racing series, corporate and OEM events, more than 12,000 men and women a year are now trained at tracks nationwide.
Graduates from various Barber programs and series include race winners and champions in NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series, Le Mans, Indy Racing League, Formula One and Champ Car.
"We started with the purpose of training drivers," said Barber, "but didn't realize we would also be creating a ladder for every aspect of the business. Entry into racing was such a difficult thing. We made motor racing accessible to so many people and provided the initial experiences in all aspects of the business - drivers, team owners, mechanics and marketing people. That's what I'm most proud of.
"We learned there were people who wanted to experience driving a race car for a few days, but did not necessarily want to become racers. With our schools, they got to experience an "Outward Bound" type of self-testing to learn what they were capable of.
"Our 'ladder' system worked so well that we found our staff of mechanics was regularly being 'raided' by major team owners like Chip Ganassi and Pat Patrick, and we loved it," said Barber. "And there were many instances where our programs introduced up-and-coming drivers to race series participants who had the means to 'adopt' them and help them further their careers.
"A. J. Allmendinger is an excellent example of a young man who came to us with a passion to race and no family money behind him. We worked with his family to help him continue his growth from karts through our Dodge Pro Series, Atlantics, and into ChampCar where he became a contender for the 2006 championship. We're proud to see how he's grown and that he's making his Rolex 24 debut this weekend," Barber concluded.