BEAUMONT, Calif. (Nov. 4) This year's "sweet 16," an elite group of karters vying for six scholarships worth a total of more than $100,000 to race in the Skip Barber-run Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER magazine in 2004, were named following the Snap-On.com Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow karting season finale at Moran Raceway in Beaumont, Calif. With the World Karting Association (WKA) and the CART Champ Car-run Stars of Tomorrow organizations working hand-in-hand with Skip Barber Racing, the following drivers have been invited to the Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Run-off January 4-5 at Sebring International Raceway:
[in alphabetical order]
Andrew Alfonso, 21, Danville, Calif.
Jason Bowles, 21, Ontario, Calif.
Travis Firing, 19, Charlotte, N.C.
Mike Giessen, 16, Deer Park, N.Y.
Chris Giumarra, 21, Canoga Park, Calif.
Kevin Glover, 21, North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Nicolas Green, 16, San Jose, Calif.
Josh Hunt, 18, Gold Coast, Australia
Seth Ingham, 19, Moxie, Wash.
Christopher Larson, 18, Trinity, Fla.
Lorenzo Mandarino, 17, Flower Mound, Texas
Benny Moon, 19, Shingle Springs, Calif.
Corey Reeves, 16, Franklin, Wis.
Alan Sciuto, Orange, Calif.
Tommy Van Cleef, 17, North Port, Fla.
Jan Velez-Walter, 17, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Today, many of karting's top runners are coming from the both the WKA and Stars of Tomorrow ranks, and the Barber-Champ Car Karting Run-off is the beginning step of an officially designated ladder system (Stars of Tomorrow and WKA karting to Formula Dodge National Championship to Barber Dodge Pro Series to Toyota Atlantic to Champ Car) that identifies and cultivates tomorrow's Champ Car racing stars. Champ Car rookie Ryan Hunter- Reay, winner of last month's Lexmark 300 Champ Car race in Australia and a frontrunning WKA karter in the mid-1990s, accelerated his open-wheel career by winning a Formula Dodge scholarship at the very first Karting Run-Off in 1997 and then climbing that precise ladder.
In addition to these 16 elite picks, the January Run-Off will include other WKA, Stars of Tomorrow, SKUSA and IKF karters who meet certain eligibility requirements. The expected total field size will be something on the order of 25 to 30 top-flight karters.
One final note: Another element of the Skip Barber-Champ Car karting alliance is that every year, Champ Car names one karter from the Stars of Tomorrow series to receive a fully funded scholarship to compete in the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER; Champ Car will announce that winner soon.