1999 Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Winners

SEBRING, Fla. (Feb. 24) - The winners of the second annual Skip Barber Racing School Karting Scholarship Shootout were recently named after a two-day competition in the 2.0 liter Skip Barber Formula Dodge race cars at Sebring International Raceway.

The four winners for 1999 are Ryan Howe of Temecula, Calif.; Jason LaPoint of San Francisco, Calif.; Patrick Long of Oak Park, Calif.; and Brian Sellers of Centerville, Ohio.

Each driver will receive a full season (16 races) in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Race Series regional championship of their choice, along with eight practice days and three advanced activities. The Skip Barber Racing School Formula Dodge Race Series is the largest amateur open-wheeled championship in North America, with four separate championships in the Eastern, Midwestern, Southern and Western regions. The retail value of each karting scholarship is approximately $27,000.

"It was pretty tough this year. We were really impressed with the way they adapted after getting feedback from the coaches, and it was the first time on the track for them," Skip Barber Racing School instructor Gregg Borland said. "They all had so many things to bring to it as far as attributes. We ended up with a real tough decision and a real strong group of drivers."

A total of 16 karting standouts were invited to the Shootout. The drivers' training in the Formula Dodge cars began with a Skip Barber Three Day Racing School at one of 21 locations across the United States. The drivers were then invited to two days of head-to-head racing on the 1.9-mile modified Sebring road circuit, which includes both high and low-speed turns.

The winners were selected from a panel consisting of Skip Barber Racing School lead instructor Terry Earwood, and instructors Kelly Collins, Todd Snyder and Borland. Collins won the GT-3 class in the Daytona Rolex 24 this year, while Snyder was runner-up in the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship in 1998.

The first year of the program was a success, as each of the four drivers selected in 1998 had strong seasons in their respective race series. Michael Valiante of Vancouver, British Columbia won the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Midwestern Series championship, and went on to capture the Rio Big Scholarship Shootout, earning a full season in the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series valued at $175,000.

The 1999 winners were nominated from the top ranks of the International Karting Federation and the World Karting Federation. The Skip Barber Racing School Karting scholarships are coordinated by Hollis Brown.

Ryan Howe (19 years old) was the 1997 champion in the IKF American Eagle Pro Series and the 1997 winner of the Super Karts West Pro Championship. He raced in the Pro Series Moto , Constructor's Series and the North American Series in 1998.

Jason LaPoint (21 years old) took first place slots in the 1997 WKA National Constructors and the IKF Grandnationals in New York in addition to his title as the IKF's Region 6 Points Champion and IKF Grandnational Champion.

Patrick Long (17 years old) captured first place in the 1998 Winter Cup in Lomato, Italy and the North American Championships. He is also a four-time U.S. National Champion and a two-time U.S. All Junior Champion.

Brian Sellers (16 years old) earned the 1998 WKA National Championship in the Spec. 100 Open class. He also finished second overall in the WKA Yamaha Can and Yamaha Pipe National Points Championships.