AWR Signs Bonilla For 2006 Star Mazda Season FAIRFIELD, N.J., Dec. 16 - Vacationers at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. from 1996-1998 can be excused if they thought their monorail driver was going pretty fast. If they were riding...
AWR Signs Bonilla For 2006 Star Mazda Season
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Dec. 16 - Vacationers at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. from 1996-1998 can be excused if they thought their monorail driver was going pretty fast.
If they were riding the monorail during Gerardo Bonilla's shift, he probably had it going about as fast as it can go.
Bonilla, who lives in Orlando, Fla., has been going pretty fast for some time now not only in monorails but also in karts and race cars. The native of San Juan, Puerto Rico plans to continue his quest for speed in 2006 with today's announcement by Andersen Walko Racing that it has signed the 30-year-old Skip Barber Formula Dodge national champion as one of its drivers for the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.
He'll join Brad Jaeger of Cincinnati, whose signing was announced in October. The team, long considered to be one of the best formula car teams in North America, also hopes to sign a third driver for the 2006 Star Mazda season to join Jaeger and Bonilla.
After advancing through the karting ranks, Bonilla finished second in the 2004 Skip Barber Formula Dodge national championship presented by Racer, and then he went on to win that series' championship this year. He clinched the title by posting his fourth victory of the season in the first half of the last doubleheader of the year, which was held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He set a new track record in qualifying for the next day's race too, and ended the 14-race season with 15 more points than the second-place finisher. His prize for winning that title was $100,000, part of which he'll use to help fund his 2006 Star Mazda racing program.
As it has done in the past, AWR will contest the entire 12-race 2006 Star Mazda schedule. The season opener is part of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., March 17-18.
What influenced Bonilla to join Andersen Walko Racing?
"For me, it's all about education," Bonilla said. "I'm looking ahead to 2007-2009, and Andersen Walko Racing has the best operation at the Pro Mazda level for driver development. I've seen his staff resumes and worked with them at the test days. It was a tough call, because there are other terrific teams that were very tempting, especially their people. But Dan Andersen knows how to bring talent together, and their knowledge base was the deciding factor. The support I receive from the Skip Barber company and my investor group was also critical to this announcement."
Dan Andersen, Andersen Walko Racing's managing partner, is thrilled that Bonilla will be under the AWR transporter's awnings in the Star Mazda paddock in 2006. "I'm very impressed with Gerardo's intensity, dedication and desire," he said. "We've all been pleased with his speed at the three tests that he's done with us. We believe he'll be a contender, and also an excellent teammate for Brad Jaeger."
Andersen Walko Racing, which recently moved into a larger, state-of-the-art shop in Fairfield, N.J., fielded cars for four drivers in the series last year and it ended the season with 75 percent of its drivers in the top 10 and half of them in the top four. One of them, Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., finished second in the overall point standings and earned the series' Rookie of the Year award. Another, Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio, became the youngest driver to ever win a pro Star Mazda race.
All of the Star Mazda races are televised on SPEED.