Imrie wins US$50,000 at Barber-CART Runoff.
Toronto, Ontario (December 26, 2002): Aspiring race driver Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, arrived home this week with US$50,000 towards next year's racing budget after finishing third in the Barber-CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) Scholarship Runoff. The former kart racer who just turned twenty, is hoping to compete in the Barber-Dodge Pro Series in 2003 and says his prize will make up about one-third of the budget.
The competition saw invited drivers head to Sebring International Raceway in Florida where the crop of young hopefuls were scrutinized for everything from racing skills to public speaking abilities. The highlight of the runoff came when the drivers climbed into Barber-Dodge Pro cars and took them out on the famous Sebring circuit.
On a wet, but trying track, drivers were observed and examined as they were put through a series of challenging exercises. The asphalt gradually dried and the speeds increased. Imrie was running well, posting the second-quickest lap times and comfortably outpacing third place. Then, his car suffered transmission problems. He'd lost third gear. Following a precautionary pitstop, he was given the okay to continue, but without third gear it was tough going.
"It was very difficult because I had to skip third gear three times a lap," reported Imrie. "It really hurt me through an 'S' section where I had to use second (gear) instead of third. My lap times suffered, but not as much as I expected. Unfortunately, with the track drying, everyone else got quicker at the end of the session and I ended up fifth fastest."
The panel of judges had much to weigh and, after careful consideration, Imrie was awarded third place, behind Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, and Scott Poirer of Deerfield Beach, Florida. Fleming and Poirer won U$100,000 and US$70,000 respectively to put toward a campaign in the 2003 Barber-Dodge Pro Series.
Imrie was disappointed about his bad luck, but took it in stride acknowledging, "It's part of the sport, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. If you can't accept that you'll drive yourself crazy.
"I really appreciate having the opportunity to participate in this runoff," he continued, "And I would like to thank everyone from Skip Barber, Dodge, Michelin, and Quaker State for making this event happen. I also want to thank my family for all their effort and support. Now its off to the drawing board to find the other two-thirds of the budget needed to race next year!"