Paul Edwards, 21, from Santa Maria, California, has been chosen as one of 6 finalists for this year's Team USA Scholarship. Paul knows well the benefits of this scholarship. As the 1998 recipient, Paul was proud to represent Team USA in the Formula Opel Winter Series. Sporting Team USA colors, Paul won the championship, and became the first American to win a European Formula Drivers Association race in its 20-year history. Without the funding from the Team USA Scholarship, this would not have been possible.

Many things are necessary to bring a young driver to the top of the motorsports ladder. In addition to the dedication, determination and mental fitness necessary to take you to the top of any profession, a top driver needs to be physically fit and have special driving skills. But you also need to practice those skills, and that requires funding.

Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw saw the need to help young Americans to make the next step up the racing ladder. The program is supported by Valvoline Oil Co., CART, Tasman Motorsports Group, Mercedes-Benz of North America, Klein Tools, Firestone, PacWest Racing Group, Road Racing Drivers Club, Skip Barber Racing School, Motorola and American Honda. This is a very credible non-profit program where ALL funds go directly to purchase more seat-time for the scholarship winners.

For 1999, the Team USA Scholarship will enable two young Americans to compete in the Formula Palmer-Audi Winter Series in November at Snetterton and Brands Hatch in England. It is a highly competive series competing with identical cars similar to the Barber Dodge Pro Series.

From the total of 14 candidates selected this year, finalists in addition to Edwards, (EFDA Euroseries) are: Joey Hand, 20, Sacramento, Calif, (Star Formula Mazda); Aaron Justus, 25, Vista, Calif, (USFF2000); Andy Lally, 24, Northport, NY, (USFF2000); Rocky Moran Jr, 19, Coto de Caza, Calif, (Barber Dodge/Toyota Atlantic); and Jeff Simmons, 23, Granby, Conn, (Barber Dodge).

These top-six finalists will travel to Bedford, England where the final process will be held at Jonathan Palmer's Formula Palmer Audi test facility on Wednesday, October 6. It will involve an on-track evaluation on two separate course configurations. Jonathan Palmer, a former Grand Prix driver, and John Bright, a former driver, champ car race engineer, and team owner, will choose the two scholarship winners.

Former scholarship winners include CART competitors Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta and Memo Gidley, and NASCAR competitor Jerry Nadeau, as well as Ashton Lewis, Tony Ave, Mike Borkowski, Clay Collier, Tony Renna, Buddy Rice, Matt Sielsky and Paul Edwards.

Jeremy Shaw said, "All of the candidates are well-qualified. Trust me, there is no shortage of talented young American drivers at the moment. Any of these young men has what it takes to progress toward the top of the sport. The future of the sport in this country is in good hands."

Thankfully, the Team USA Scholarship will soon help two more young American drivers up the road to their American Dream.