The education that drivers participating in the Barber Dodge Pro Series receive is not limited to what they learn in the car. The staff of the Barber Dodge Pro Series works to develop the up and coming racer's talent outside of the car, which has become an increasingly important skill set for the modern professional racecar driver to posses.
Today's professional racecar driver not only has to be consummate and fast in the car, but they also need to be strong in the boardroom, with sponsors, and with the media. The Barber Dodge field learns how to go faster in the car each race weekend from the coaching and feedback that they get from the Barber Dodge driver coaches. The drivers also get coaching and training on the skills needed to be successful outside of the cockpit.
At the Laguna Seca event in June, Barber Dodge drivers participated in a public relations seminar hosted by George Tamayo, Director of Communications and Marketing for Skip Barber. The seminar focused on how to handle interviews to make the most out of each media opportunity the drivers have, be it in the press conferences, a television interview, or during a sponsorship appearance. The drivers were given mock interviews, which were taped for the rest of the drivers to analyze and critique.
Continuing this out-of-car education, Vice-President of Marketing for Championship Auto Racing Teams, Steve Fusek, met with the Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors at the Molson Indy Toronto event to discuss strategies for the young racers for them to develop the commercial backing to make the move up the ladder. Fusek stressed the importance of generating new sponsors, and wanted to make sure that the drivers knew that CART would do everything possible to make that process happen, as he emphasized that CART has an interest in seeing this field move up,
"We want to help you. You guys are our future, and there are ways we can help make that happen. We are pledging our staff to do whatever it takes to turn leads that you have into sponsorship that will help them continue their career," said Fusek.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is different from any other series in the world in that it provides prizes for successful drivers which are specifically targeted to help the driver move up the ladder. The series is so deep with talent, though, that there are many drivers who have the speed and skill to take the next step who will not win scholarships. Fusek emphasized that everyone in the field needed to insure that they can make the move up without counting on winning scholarship money.
"The best way for these drivers to have control on their career is for them to secure the backing needed to move up. Scholarships play a key role, but since there are no guarantees that anyone in the field is going to win the scholarships, everyone needs to work to develop relationships that lead to partnerships and help the drivers create a budget to move up."
With the announcement of the 2003 rules and competition package, CART has made significant steps toward bringing down the cost of competing in Champ Cars. Similarly, Fusek told the Barber Dodge drivers that CART not only wanted to help them work on developing the funding needed to get into Atlantics, but also that they were looking at making that process more reasonable. CART evaluating bringing the costs down in Atlantic competition by as much as half of what it is today.
There are no guarantees in racing, but the staff of the Barber Dodge Pro Series works to develop the drivers both inside and out of the car to improve every drivers chances of moving up.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of CART. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role.
This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $12,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $300,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships