In order to arrive in time for testing prior to the first race at Teretonga on January 6, the duo will leave their respective homes in Hollister, Calif. (Allmendinger) and Centerville, Ohio (Sellers) on Monday, Christmas Eve, and fly firstly, and separately, to Los Angeles, where they will meet in time to catch a plane on to New Zealand later that evening. Due to the fact their journey will take them across the International Date Line, the pair will not only be away from their families for Christmas Day, they will effectively skip the day entirely, since they are not due to land in Auckland until around 6.40 a.m. local time on Wednesday, December 26.
"It'll be a little different since I've never been away from my family for Christmas," said Allmendinger, "but this is a great opportunity and my parents totally understand and I totally understand how important it is. I'm excited because this is a dream I'm trying to pursue, so I'm ready to get started.
"Besides," he added with a chuckle, "I've already spent all my Christmas money after hitting the walls this year [while contesting the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by Racer]! I'm ready to get down there [to New Zealand] and get to work."
Added Sellers, "I think anybody in my position would do the same thing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you have to do what you have to do. You gotta go with it, no matter when it is or where it is. I'm not too worried about missing Christmas. It's not about being [at home] on the 25th; it's about spending time with people you care about, and I've been able to do that before I leave. To be honest, being picked for the Scholarship is like Christmas for me anyway."
The Team USA Scholarship is now in its 12th year. Among the alumni are CART drivers Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta and Memo Gidley, and NASCAR Winston Cup winner Jerry Nadeau. This year's winners will contest eight Formula Ford races over a five-week period, competing in two races each weekend at four New Zealand race tracks at Teretonga, Timaru, Pukekohe and Manfeild.
Support for the venture has been provided by CART, Steve and Christine Horne, American Honda, The Craig Company, Klein Tools, Las Vegas Karting Center, Road Racing Drivers Club, Sparco, Skip Barber Racing, Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and Racer.