Team USA Scholarship winners to contest New Zealand series

Three American youngsters set to contest New Zealand Formula Ford Series Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (December 17, 2003) -- A trio of talented young Americans will celebrate Christmas at their respective homes, then travel halfway around...

Three American youngsters set to contest New Zealand Formula Ford Series

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (December 17, 2003) -- A trio of talented young Americans will celebrate Christmas at their respective homes, then travel halfway around the world to further their blossoming auto racing careers.

Joe D'Agostino, 18, from Plantation, Fla., Charlie Kimball, 18, from Camarillo, Calif., and Ryan Millen, 19, from Newport Beach, Calif., have been chosen as the latest recipients of the prestigious Team USA Scholarships. The threesome will journey to the Southern Hemisphere to contest the six-race Talley's New Zealand International Formula Ford Series, which will be held over three consecutive weekends in January 2004.

They will follow in the footsteps of some of this country's top open-wheel and stock car racers who have sported the red, white and blue Team USA Scholarship colors since its inception in 1990. Former winners include Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Jerry Nadeau, Memo Gidley, A.J. Allmendinger, Bryan Sellers and the late Tony Renna.

"This is truly a great honor," said D'Agostino, who raced in this year's Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by Racer and recently won the Skip Barber Shootout to secure a fully paid ride in next year's Barber Dodge Pro Series. "Many of the top names in the sport have won this award before me, and this will give me a great opportunity to represent my country and hone my skills in preparation for the 2004 season."

"I'm really looking forward to racing in New Zealand," added Kimball, who finished third in this year's U.S. Formula Ford 2000 Zetec National Championship in his second year out of karts. Kimball also finished third in the recent Formula Ford Zetec Winter Series Championship in England. "I saw how much A.J. Allmendinger and Bryan Sellers gained from racing in this series two years ago, and I can't wait to follow in their footsteps."

The opportunity carries an extra-special meaning for Millen, who was born and raised in California but whose family hails originally from New Zealand. Indeed, the second-generation racer has his sights firmly set on winning the second round of the championship, which carries the title of the New Zealand Grand Prix and will be held at the world's most southerly race track, Teretonga Park, near Invercargill, on January 18.

"My Uncle Steve won the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1980, and I desperately want to put my name on the trophy too," said Millen, who won last year's South Island regional Formula Ford championship and subsequently contested five races in the '03 Barber Dodge Pro Series. "I am anxious to get started with preparations as soon as possible."

The three Americans will travel to New Zealand before the New Year to begin testing their trio of identically prepared Stealth Van Diemens, which will be run by the Canterbury Motor Racing School team, based in Christchurch. The first two races will be held at Levels Raceway, Timaru, on January 11. The team will then travel south to Teretonga for the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting on January 18, and back to Christchurch for the final round as part of the historic Lady Wigram Trophy weekend at Ruapuna Park Raceway on January 25.

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