Cameron, Podlesni Earn Prestigious 2006 Team USA Scholarships
California Teenagers Set to Follow in the Footsteps of Famous Alumni
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (October 30, 2006) ---- Two gifted teenagers, Dane Cameron and Robert Podlesni, will follow in the footsteps of American open-wheel stars such as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger after today being named as the latest winners of prestigious Team USA Scholarships.
Cameron, 18, from Sonoma, Calif., finished second in this year's Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship (to 2005 Team USA Scholarship winner J.R. Hildebrand) and convincingly earned Rookie of the Year honors for the Florida-based Cape Motorsports team on the strength of two wins, nine podium finishes and four poles.
Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who will turn 19 next weekend, clinched the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tire, winning six races and six poles for California-based Dave Freitas Racing.
The pair will contest the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy, a six-race mini-series run over the next two weekends at the famed Snetterton (November 4/5) and Brands Hatch (November 11/12) circuits in England.
"I am very honored and extremely excited to have been given this opportunity to race in Europe for the first time," said Cameron, whose father Rick and uncle Steve have a long history in the sport which includes fielding cars under the Lynx Racing banner for Buddy Rice and Memo Gidley, both of whom won Team USA Scholarships in the 1990s. "It is very special to be involved in the same program that made a big difference in so many careers. This a great chance for me to try a new car on some of the best tracks in the world. I'd like to thank everyone who supports the Team USA Scholarship; it is a great opportunity for me and I plan to make the most of it."
"I look at the names of past recipients, and only hope I can achieve what they have been able to," added Podlesni. "I think it's wonderful that this Scholarship exists to give young drivers a chance to race abroad. I am as excited about seeing the famous tracks, such as Brands Hatch and Snetterton, as I am about racing the Formula Palmer Audi and seeing the race teams in England. I believe the whole experience will be of great value, and undoubtedly a memorable one."
Formula Palmer Audi is the brainchild of Englishman Jonathan Palmer, who won both the British Formula 3 Championship and the European Formula 2 title before going on to achieve success in Formula 1 in the 1980s. The series features identically prepared open-wheel cars and turbocharged 300-horsepower Audi engines which include a 50-hp "push-to-pass" button similar to that employed in the Champ Car World Series. FPA graduates include current Champ Car standout Justin Wilson.
In addition to their racing plans, Cameron and Podlesni will visit Lola Cars International, one of the world's most successful race car manufacturers, and the WSR (West Surrey Racing) team which currently fields the USA entry for former Team USA Scholarship winner Phil Giebler in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations.
"Contrary to popular perception, there are a number of extremely talented young drivers in this country," said Team USA Scholarship founder and respected auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. "What this program does -- and has done since 1990 -- is provide an opportunity for some of them to display their abilities to a wider audience and hone their skills in preparation for moving on up the racing ladder."
Current supporters of the program include Mockett.com, a Torrance, Calif.-based producer and supplier of "Fine Architectural Hardware For Your Fine Furniture," Sparco USA, RACER magazine, Speedstar and the majority of past Scholarship winners.
-credit: jeremy shaw