Gielber Continues to Climb Formula Ladder
Skip Barber trained Phil Giebler knows he has his work cut out for him in his quest to achieve his lifelong goal: a seat in Formula 1. Hailing from Oxnard, California, but now living in England, the former karting star turned international auto racer continues to develop his race resume. As importantly, the former Team USA must also find time for the business side of the sport, making the key moves that will take his career to the next level.
After living in Le Mans, France and competing in the prestigious ELF/La Filliere Driver’s program, he made his name in global racing circles by winning the 2000 British Formula Palmer/Audi Winter Championship. Then, last summer, the Skip Barber trained racer took another step towards signing up for Bernie’s big circus by scoring points in his British F3 debut at Silverstone. An impressive one-off outing, the result raised more than a few sets of eyebrows in the F3 pits. The last stop before Formula 1, the prolific British F3 series was the place Giebler needed to make his mark, and the Silverstone result was just what the doctor ordered.
Now living in Northampton, England, Giebler recently made the trip back across the Atlantic to begin pounding the pavement of America in search of sponsorship money. Like every other driver determined to race the 13 venue, 26 race series in 2002, Giebler needs to help underwrite his place in the paddock. After knocking on countless doors and scratching and clawing for funding, the likeable Californian has earned enough money to pique the interest of the highly-competitive Duma Racing team, Giebler is doing everything in his power to make it to the British F3 opening round at Brands Hatch on April 1st.
However, before he can do that, there is a major test to attend first. And that’s how we came into contact with the aspiring F1 pilot. Preparing to pack his bags for a trip to Spain, we caught up with Giebler in Los Angeles to get a read on his hopes and dreams for the summer of 2002.
“ There’s a five day test that the Duma team is going to at Albacete, Spain, which could be a really good start for me,” begins Giebler.“ I can drive every day and be able to development work and improve the car.”
For the 2002 UK campaign, Duma has signed on to run the new Ford F3 motor. Brought to life by Swindon Engines, Giebler is hoping the mill will provide his with an edge over the other wannabes.
“ We’ll be running with the new For engine, which will be its first time in F3,” he says.“ It’s a bit of a gamble but we’ve been pretty impressed with what we have seen so far. The 2.0-liter engine is a lot lighter and cranks out about 240 horsepower.”
Illustrating just how tough it is to break into British F3 - far and away the most competitive junior single-seat formula in the world– Giebler, despite his excellent track record, is still not assured a place within the Duma outfit.
“ It’s a bit tricky and I’m working with the team to put it all together,” he concedes, referring to the fact that the sponsorship money he has been promised still has still not been delivered.“ It’s a really difficult situation. I have a few people sponsoring me but I have not yet been able to put the money into the hands of the team. They believe I’ve got the money and believe I’m worth taking the risk on. Hopefully we’ll have it all squared away in about one to two weeks.
“ Everybody is in the same kind of boat,” he goes on, making it a point to mention that nobody rides for free.“ In the junior formulas there are hardly any free rides around. Especially in Europe where you have to exclusively rely on sponsorship or family money. I mean I’ve been lucky to even get to this point by winning driver sponsorships and people helping me out, but I still need to find sponsorship money to get find a place in F3.”