(LAKEVILLE, Conn.) Dec. 4, 2000 -Patrick Long dreams of driving in Formula One in the not too distant future. Recent developments have the 19-year old American from Southern California inching closer to realizing that dream. It has also forced Long to make one of the most wrenching decisions of his young auto racing career, but one alas that he had to make. The 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series Big Scholarship winner announced today that he is renouncing his $185,000 scholarship in order to contest 2001 British Formula Ford Zetec Championship as a factory Van Diemen driver.
"I had to think very long and hard about this decision because the Skip Barber organization has done so much for me, but in the end I had to go with my dreams," Long said. "The Big Scholarship has already provided a huge boost for my career. Immediately after winning it, I went back to England and won my first British Formula Ford race. Winning the scholarship generated a buzz about me in England that brought about this opportunity."
The British Formula Ford championships have long been regarded as one of the prerequisite steps on the road to an F1 career. Drivers like Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna, David Coulthard, and Jenson Button all honed their skills in the series prior to their rise to Grand Prix racing.
"The mission of this organization is to help young drivers to achieve their dreams racing. I hope that Patrick achieves his dream. I also hope and believe that winning the Big Scholarship had and will continue to have a part in helping him and other drivers to achieve their racing goals," said Skip Barber.
Long intends to return to the US in 2001 to contest at least two yet to be determined rounds of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series season concurrently with his Formula Ford schedule.