MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9) -- Champ Car talent Bryan Herta and 30-year karting veteran Hollis Brown today announced a prestigious program to bridge the gap between karting and CART. The inaugural "Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of ...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9) -- Champ Car talent Bryan Herta and 30-year karting veteran Hollis Brown today announced a prestigious program to bridge the gap between karting and CART. The inaugural "Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow" will identify and showcase future stars of the FedEx Championship Series.
Team Rahal, Skip Barber Racing School and Firestone Racing have joined with CART to provide top, young drivers from around the country with the most exciting opportunities in karting today, including a chance to test drive a Champ Car for one of the best teams in the series. The kart racing challenge will be held the weekend following the CART FedEx Championship Series season-finale, November 3, 4 and 5, at the Las Vegas Karting Center.
"The open-wheel community has really come forward to support this event," said Herta, who began his career in karts at the age of 12. "With Bobby [Rahal] donating a test in the
Team Rahal Champ Car, Skip Barber giving school packages, Bridgestone/Firestone becoming the official tire and a class sponsor and CART lending its name and support, this is a first in karting. We want to change the motorsports climb to fame while helping our sport to grow."
"The Stars of Tomorrow will be an excellent extension of our Development Series ladder, which consists of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and Toyota Atlantic Championship," said CART CEO and Team Rahal co-owner Bobby Rahal. "It allows us to reach the grass-roots level of our sport, which is the background of many of our current drivers, and provide an outstanding platform for those whose ultimate goal is the FedEx Championship Series. Having Bryan as well as some of the other stars of our series lending assistance and advice to these young drivers will prove invaluable to their learning experience."
The event will be structured like a Champ Car race weekend with practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. The three most popular classes have been chosen to attract the best young drivers from the ages of 16 and up -- Pro 125 Gearbox, Pro 80 Gearbox and Pro Superbox. In addition, there will be a Junior Superbox Class and a Pro/Celebrity Invitational, matching Champ Car drivers and racers from the entertainment industry.
"It's great to see Champ Car superstars getting involved to give something back to the sport," said Brown, who sponsored Herta in his karting days. "To have them giving advice to young karters and taking part in the judging is invaluable. Imagine you're a 16-year-old aiming for Champ Cars some day, and one of your heroes is helping to point you in the right direction. Wow."
Five drivers from the senior classes -- the three race winners and two "at-large" picks chosen by a panel of Champ Car drivers including Paul Tracy and Memo Gidley, and the experienced eyes of
Skip Barber Racing -- will be awarded the title "Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow". The winners will participate in a Skip Barber Three Day Racing School culminating in a test in the Team Rahal Champ Car.
For Skip Barber, who operates one of the world's leading racing schools, it's a further extension of his efforts to help young drivers take their talents to the top.
"We are always very pleased to be involved in programs that help young drivers to achieve their dreams of racing professionally," said Barber. "In addition to our own karting scholarships, the program that Bryan and Hollis have created provides yet another opportunity for karters to show their talent in front of people who may have an affect on their careers."
"Skip has really led the way in helping young drivers in the early steps," added Herta, who won the 1991 Barber Pro Series Championship and the Career Enhancement Award. "His current program is one of the best opportunities available for young drivers."
Firestone Racing has come on board to provide support not only as a Class sponsor, but as the official tire of Stars of Tomorrow.
"Firestone is proud to be a part of this event that will give young new drivers a chance to showcase their abilities," said Al Speyer, Director of Motorsports. "We see this as a way of graduating these drivers up to the Dayton Indy Lights series, then into FedEx Champ Cars."
The winners will share a current prize-fund of $10,000. The top-three participants in the
Junior Superbox Class, consisting of drivers from 12 to 15 years of age, will be awarded a 125cc Gearbox Driving School and a test with one of the top Gearbox teams in North America -- Paul Tracy Kart Racing.
The Las Vegas Karting Center is a 13-turn, 7/8-mile road course that is the only track in North America sanctioned by all karting organizations including the FIA/CIK.