SONOMA, Calif. (July 8, 2003) -- For most Southern California teenage boys, the summer means sun, sand, ocean and girls in bikinis. But for Alan Scuito and Billy Johnson, the summer means pavement, tire rubber and driving ...
SONOMA, Calif. (July 8, 2003) -- For most Southern California teenage boys, the summer means sun, sand, ocean and girls in bikinis.
But for Alan Scuito and Billy Johnson, the summer means pavement, tire rubber and driving hard.
While most guys in So-Cal are yelling "Dude, where's my (surf) board?" -- it's "Dude, where's my kart?" for Scuito and Johnson as they prepare for this weekend's Snap-on Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" presented by RACER national karting series event at Infineon Raceway in Northern California.
Scuito, 15, and Johnson, 16, are two of the nation's brightest young karting stars and both are favorites to win the ICC (125cc Shifter) division on the tight, smooth karting circuit designed next to the road course that recently hosted the NASCAR Winston Cup stars.
Sure, Sciuto and Johnson have hit the waves in Orange County before but their priorities this summer are hitting their apexes on the "Stars of Tomorrow" karting trail.
With a chance to compete in the Champ Car series' final race set for Nov. 2-3 on the infield of California Speedway as a part of the Champ Car weekend, the two teenagers have already shown their abilities in the 2003 season and look for more success on Saturday and Sunday (July 12-13).
"I was never into going to the beach that much," said Sciuto, the 2002 80cc Junior national champion and winner of the Stars season opener at Buttonwillow, Calif., Raceway. "I played a lot of basketball (he was an all-star) and got into karting when I was 11. Right now, all I want to do is go racing. This is my fifth season in karting and I want to be a pro racer someday. This is my first year in the ICC division and it is tough. So I'm anxious to be on the track."
Sciuto, a sophomore at El Modena High School in Orange, Calif., currently leads the ICC Western Division standings after two events and hopes to extend his margin on the new Infineon Raceway karting circuit this weekend against the likes of his Extreme Racing teammate Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., Nick Halen of Carson City, Nev., Kevin Glover of Burnaby, B.C., Can., and Johnson.
"We are planning to race another year or so in karting before moving into the cars," Sciuto, one of the top U.S. youngsters considered to be a future star in Formula One or Champ Cars. "I want to learn as much as possible with the karts and then move up. But right now I am concentrating on winning in karting."
Johnson also has his mind set on racing this summer as he ranks fourth in the Stars ICC points.
"I have surfed with my friends before but I don't have much time for that right now," said Johnson, the Dana Hills High School junior from San Clemente, Calif. "I raced dirt bikes and my neighbor had go karts and I wanted to race them. My parents and my neighbors helped me get into karts and now I want to pursue a racing career to get to Formula One or Champ Cars. That's why I'm racing on the Stars circuit."
Johnson has been tutored by 2002 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and multi-time karting national champion Alex Barron of Menifee, Calif., in his first year in the ICC division. In fact, Johnson is racing a Barron-designed Avanti kart for JM Racing of San Dimas, Calif., the same racing team that took Barron to karting titles.
"I have practiced with Alex and he has given me some tips with the karts," said Johnson, who'll team with Sean Neilsen this week for JM Racing at Infineon Raceway. "Of course, having someone like Alex helping you is something that every young karters doesn't get. So I want to learn as much as possible. The upcoming Stars race this weekend should be very competitive."
Scuito and Johnson will be facing a tough ICC field that brings in Stars Eastern Division contenders Graham Rahal, son of three-time Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal, and Canadian female star Juliana Chiovitti as well as Northern California racers Brett Buckwalter of Novato, Kris Shaw of Rohnert Park and Tom Dyer Corde Madera.
Practice runs for the Stars of Tomorrow event at Infineon Raceway begin on Friday with qualifying, heats and main event set for both Saturday and Sunday. Admission will be $25 for a three-day pit pass, $20 for a two- day pit pass or $15 for a one-day pit pass.
This event will be taped for a one-hour show on the Speed Channel at a later date.
The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presenting by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder. Stars focuses on recognizing the skills of the drivers rather than the technology development within the machines, using FIA/CIK International standards. More information can be found at www.cartstars.com.
Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global developer, manufacturer and marketer of tool and equipment solutions for professional tool users. Product lines include hand tools, power tools, automotive diagnostics and shop equipment, tool storage products, automotive diagnostics software and other solutions for the transportation service, industrial, government, education, agricultural, and other commercial applications, including construction and electrical. Products are sold through its franchise dealer van, company direct sales and distributor and internet channels. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $2+ billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin and employs approximately 14,000 worldwide. More information can be found at www.snap-on.com.