Skip Barber trained Phil Giebler and Joey Hand won the Valvoline Team USA Scholarships this weekend, besting some of today's toughest competition in a six-driver shootout at England's Silverstone circuit. Among the combatants were Barber Dodge Pro Series veterans Andy Lally and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Formula Dodge National Championship runner-up Bryan Sellers, and Skip Barber trained Tom Dyer. The Scholarship pay out means the winning pair will now contest the 2000 Euro Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series, which comprises two races each on consecutive weekends at Snetterton [November 12] and Brands Hatch [November 19].
Giebler and Hand, both 21-year old karting veterans, made strong cases for themselves by posting the fastest outright lap times and the best average time during a 10-lap session held in rainy conditions. All racers were cycling the track in 300-horsepower Audi turbo-powered Van Diemens.
"It's a huge opportunity," said Giebler, from Oxnard, Calif. "Even just to drive these cars has been fun. It's a good feeling to know people give you a chance to show what you can do, and it's nice to able to take advantage of that opportunity."
Hand was equally excited, particularly after having made the trip twice.
"I made the trip here last year for the shootout and got humbled." said Hand. He continued, "You need to be humbled. I came back this year a better driver. I've never driven in the rain before, so I had no experience. I just drove the thing. I'm glad I was able to prove to everyone who supports the scholarship what I thought I could prove last year."
Now entering its 11th year, the TEAM USA program was founded by current Champ Car magazine editor Jeremy Shaw. The goal of the scholarship is to provide an awareness of talented young American drivers and assist in their graduation up the auto-racing ladder via the ultra-competitive circuits of Europe.
Past scholarship winners include CART Champ Car drivers Bryan Herta, Jimmy Vasser and Memo Gidley; Indy Lights racers Tony Renna and Jeff Simmons; recently crowned Toyota Atlantic Champion Buddy Rice; NASCAR Winston Cup talent Jerry Nadeau; Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series Champion Paul Edwards.
- Andrew Torres