Sebring, FL - Yet another crop of young racers are attempting to plant their foot firmly on the first rung of the Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder as the Barber-CART Karting Scholarship Runoff begins at Sebring International Raceway. Sixteen of North America's most talented kart racers are vying to win one of four seats in the 2002 Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, the Official Amateur National Championship of CART. Each Scholarship is valued at over $45,000.
The sixteen karters:
Michael Abbate, 16, Las Vegas, Nevada
Craig Baltzer, 17, Bettendorf, Iowa
Jason Bowles, 18, Ontario, California
Chris Carmody, 17, Valencia, Calif.
Travis Firing, 17, Whitehall, Penn.
Colin Flemming, 17, North Hills, Calif.
Ward Imrie, 18, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Matt Jaskol,17, Las Vegas, Nevada
Charlie Kimball, 16 Camarillo, California
David MacDonald, 17, North Canton, Ohio
Berek McEwen, 17, Flower Mound, Texas
Benny Moon, 16, Shingle Springs, Calif.
Tim O'Brien, 19, Lebanon, Ohio
Preston Peebles, 16, Lubbock, Texas
Scott Speed, 18, Manteca, Calif.
Steve Welk, 19, Franklin, Wisc.
With frigid and damp conditions more apros pos of Road America than Sebring, the group of nominees began the day with car control exercises on a wet skid pad and autocross course in a variety of Dodge passenger vehicles before moving into Formula Dodge R/T 2000 racecars.
Two 20-minute on track sessions concluded the day, leaving the panel of judges that includes recent Petit Le Mans GTS class winner Kelly Collins with much to ponder. Two more 30-minute sessions on Friday morning, Jan. 4, will give the panel a final opportunity to evaluate the group before selecting the four scholarship recipients. Each driver's presentation and marketing skills are as much a part of the evaluation process as their lap times ensuring that each is as able to handle the rigors of a professional racecar driver on as well as off the track.
Past winners of the Barber-CART Karting Scholarship are newly signed Lynx Racing driver Michael Valiante, 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2000 British Formula Ford runner-up Patrick Long and current Formula Dodge National Championship runner-up A.J. Allmendinger.
The Barber-CART Karting Scholarship is the first rung on the $1.3 million Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder that culminates with the $255,000 Career Enhancement Award that goes to the Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion used to advance to the CART Toyota Atlantic Series.