After an exciting weekend evaluating young Karting talent at the inaugural Stars of Tomorrow event in Los Vegas, American Champ Car driver Memo Gidley is delighted to announce his upcoming participation in the second annual Memo Gidley Karting Clinic on Ford Island, Hawaii. Founded in December 1999, the Memo Gidley Karting Clinic has become one of Hawaii's highest-profile motorsports events, and organizers plan an even bigger and better Clinic this year just outside of Honolulu on the weekend of December 2-3.
For last year's Clinic, held at Hawaii Raceway Park in Leeward Oahu, Gidley brought the 125cc TrackMagic shifter kart with which he won the S1 class of the SKUSA Super Nationals in Las Vegas one month earlier. Gidley performed two days of driving demonstrations and conversed at length with the children in attendance and their parents, many of whom had never before met a professional racing driver.
Gidley still drives his kart three to four times a week as part of his training regimen, and makes it a priority to give back to the karting community as often as possible. "You get to make a real strong impression on the kids, and that's a great opportunity to show them that they can do whatever they want in life if they put their minds to it. Hopefully, I'll be able to give them some new ideas and inspire them to pursue their dreams."
This year, the Clinic moves to Ford Island, home of the USS Missouri Memorial and right next door to Pearl Harbor. The "Mighty Mo" (visited by Winston Cup rookie megastar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in April) sits within shouting distance of an airstrip circuit where the Pacific Karting Club competes every third Sunday. The 40-year-old club has called this new facility home since the start of the 2000 season.
One of the club's leading lights, incoming college freshman Ryan Gouveia, recently won raves for his stirring performance in August's Blueberry Hill Series semi-pro event at Bryan Herta's Las Vegas Karting Center. With the likes of Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Adrian Fernandez and Alex Tagliani in the audience, Gouveia finished second in the first heat and swept the remaining two heats.
Gouveia, perhaps not coincidentally, was one of the few individuals tutored by Gidley in the inaugural Clinic. Newly added to Birel's factory driver roster, Gouveia returned to the Vegas track this past weekend as one of over 200 participants (and as the sole Hawaii representative) in the inaugural CART-sanctioned Stars of Tomorrow program. Gidley served as one of the event's expert panelists and also won the Stars of Today pro-celebrity race.
By bringing the Clinic to the club's home track, this year's schedule will allow for both one-on-one tutorials and ample track time for non-shifters on Saturday and shifters on Sunday. Gidley will also make a number of public appearances around town in the days leading up to the clinic. A highlight of Gidley's schedule will be an eveing autograph session on December 1st at All-Star Hawaii (formerly the All Star Cafe), where his Herdez uniform from the 1999 CART season sits prominently on display.
Gidley contested twelve of the twenty events on the CART Fedex Championship series this year: three with Players Forsythe Racing and nine with Della Penna Motorsports. Highlights from Gidley's 2000 season include his first oval races in a Champ Car, his debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a string of four consecutive points-paying finishes, and a career best finish of 6th at Road America. Gidley hopes his growing career will increase the impact of his interaction with Hawaii's young karters. "Going into the Clinic this year, I have a little more exposure because of the races that I've done. People have heard of me a little bit more, and they respect my skills a little bit more, which is nice because then when the kids meet me it makes it even more special when they realize I'm just a normal person working hard to achieve my goals."
With the benefit of six months of planning time for this year's event, organizers are confident that the 2000 Clinic will be bigger and better opportunity to help develop future motorsports talent in Hawaii and beyond. Spectator attendance is free, so if you're lucky enough to be in the 50th State in the first weekend in December, do heed Memo's advice and "come on out!"