ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (September 5, 2002) --The Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship is currently in the middle of a two-month layoff between races. While no race action is taking place, the majority of the teams and drivers are keeping busy during...
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (September 5, 2002) --The Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship is currently in the middle of a two-month layoff between races. While no race action is taking place, the majority of the teams and drivers are keeping busy during the break.
As is common between races, several teams will go testing, looking to improve and learn more about the car and the driver. In addition to the series sanctioned test at Road Atlanta, September 23-24, numerous teams and drivers will participate in private tests throughout the country during the layoff between races. However, during what is affectionately known as "silly season" in the racing industry, another activity takes place. Teams and drivers begin to make preparations for the upcoming season.
Those drivers looking to return to Zetec Championship, will use the break to evaluate this year's performances, and begin to look at which team they will run with and what car they will contest in 2003. For some, it will be an easy decision of staying with the same team and contesting the same car. For others it may be more complex, perhaps involving moving up from the American Continental Championship, which uses the older Ford Pinto engine package, to Zetec Championship, which uses the Ford Zetec engine package. In addition, with the introduction of a three-year chassis freeze in 2003, many drivers will be looking at purchasing the new RF03 Van Diemen. Whatever decisions the driver makes, a key component will be money. For this reason, drivers will use the time away from the track to approach and meet, both current and potential sponsors, in an effort to secure the necessary funding for the upcoming year.
As a training series, a great number of drivers will not return to Zetec Championship next year, but rather, will move up the motorsports ladder. For those drivers, the break between races gives them the opportunity to meet with teams in various series, such as the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship and Infiniti Pro Series, to discuss openings and opportunities for the 2003 season. As with the returning the Zetec Championship drivers, meeting and approaching sponsors about funding for the upcoming year, will be a vital task performed during the break by the drivers looking to move up the motorsports ladder.
"I feel it's important to talk to as many teams as possible," said current Zetec Championship leader Bryan Sellers. "You obviously hope that what you' ve done on track has generated some interest, but meeting with teams face-to-face is an important first step in establishing a relationship, that may lead to bigger things."
"Looking for money is the biggest issue," said four-time race winner Tonis Kasemets. "It's something you have to work on every day. I'm confident I can succeed and can continue my progression as a professional race car driver."
Apart from testing, teams involved in the Zetec Championship will use the gap between races to evaluate and contact potential drivers for the upcoming season. Over the past several years, teams have paid particular interest to drivers coming up through the karting ranks and those with experience in either, STAR Mazda or Canadian Formula Ford Championship. In 2002 alone, over 60% of the registered drivers came from this group.
"We are always keeping on eye on the young up and coming drivers," said Cape Motorsports President Dominic Cape. "If you wait for drivers to contact you in this business, you are really doing yourself a real disservice. By going out and approaching the drivers you want, you really improve your chances at winning the championship."
The 2002 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship continues with Rounds Eleven and Twelve at Road Atlanta, October 10-11, as part of the Petit Le Mans weekend.