WKA: IRL SoK: Young racers met Rice and Herta at Indy

Buddy Rice says the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the Indy Racing League is the perfect vehicle for youngsters aspiring to reach the IndyCar Series and compete in the Indianapolis 500. The 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion gave several ...

Buddy Rice says the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the Indy Racing League is the perfect vehicle for youngsters aspiring to reach the IndyCar Series and compete in the Indianapolis 500.

The 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion gave several top drivers, representing various divisions, a tour of his No. 15 Argent Mortgage Panoz/Honda/Firestone in the Rahal Letterman Racing garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 18.

The Snap-on Stars of Karting series opens the East division schedule May 19-21 at New Castle (Ind.) Motorsports Park, owned by former IndyCar Series driver Mark Dismore. A total of 185 drivers are entered in the Snap-on Grand Prix, which will be broadcast on Speed Channel at a later date.

"The Stars of Karting program is really important to me," Rice said. "I think it does a good job of keeping racing here in the United States and allows these kids to have a place to run. I own a go-kart shop at home so that kids from Phoenix and the West Coast have a shop to come to. Many of them need a place to hone their skills and hopefully make it to the IRL someday."

Also visiting with the karters was 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion and Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal, and Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta.

"It's important to remember two things as you progress in your racing careers," Rahal said. "You must always be professional and always work hard no matter what it is that you're doing."

Herta, a co-owner of the karting series, discussed the history and state of the series with Spencer Pigot (King Taco Cadet class), Kyle Wiegand (Cytomax ICC), Wesley Boswell (Cytomax ICC), David Jurca (Cytomax ICC shifter), Jacob Neal (PCH Motorsports JICA), and Brett Smrz (PCH Motorsports JICA). Boswell, lead driver for the MRP-Birel America team, won the season-opening ICC class.

"Stars of Karting began with a four-race schedule," he said. "The sponsorship help of Snap-on and the Indy Racing League have grown this series into a huge success. I look forward to watching it continue to grow as it has been every year since it was started.

"Looking forward, I hope to get the communities more involved in the areas where we run our races and hopefully schedule some kind of year end celebration for these kids."

-sok-

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Series Kart
Drivers Mark Dismore , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Buddy Rice , Kyle Wiegand , Brett Smrz , Spencer Pigot