THREE GUEST DRIVERS TO JOIN THE VOLKSWAGEN JETTA TDI CUP AT ROAD AMERICA Trio includes top-rated iRacing driver, X Games athlete and Volkswagen online community founder HERNDON, Va. (August 11, 2009) -- When the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta...
THREE GUEST DRIVERS TO JOIN THE VOLKSWAGEN JETTA TDI CUP AT ROAD AMERICA
Trio includes top-rated iRacing driver, X Games athlete and Volkswagen online community founder
HERNDON, Va. (August 11, 2009) -- When the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup arrives at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for Round 6 of the season, the series regulars will be joined by three guest drivers. The guest drivers include professional snocross racer and freestyle rider, Levi LaVallee; the iRacing top-rated North American road racing driver, John Prather; and the founder of the top online Volkswagen community, Jaime Vondruska. They will be participating in all of the weekend's activities beginning with practice on Friday, August 14 at noon CT and concluding with qualifying and the race on Saturday, August 15 at 8 am CST and 7:10 pm CST.
While LaVallee and Vondruska both have various forms of racing experience, Prather will be earning his rookie stripes on the track, marking the first time that a competitor from the racing simulation world has been invited to compete in a professional racing series. Despite his novice status in real-world racing, Prather is the highest rated North American road racing competitor among the more than 16,000 members across the globe that have joined iRacing in the 12 months since the service opened to the general public. In order to prepare for the Road America race weekend, he recently attended a Skip Barber racing school at Laguna Seca where he impressed the instructors with his abilities.
"I have more than six years of competitive experience in various racing simulation environments, but this will be my first taste of real-world racing, so this is an opportunity of a lifetime for me," Prather said. "When I tested at Laguna Seca, I was amazed how well that iRacing prepared me for the nuances of the cars and tracks right down to the undulations and pavement transitions in corners. The instructors were surprised that I grasped the lines and car control as quickly as I did, and at the end of the day, I was less than three seconds from the track record. I grew up in Chicago, and my first memories of racing are at Road America. I've also competed on the track many times on iRacing, so I hope that these experiences will help me to run competitively with the rest of the drivers."
Prather's participation in the race at Road America is a glimpse into the future for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. In April, the series announced a partnership with iRacing to identify driver candidates for future seasons through the introduction of a Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup online racing season, which will launch on August 18. The online series will feature the Jetta TDI Cup racecar on millimeter-accurate virtual versions of real-world race tracks and serve as a recruiting mechanism for young drivers to earn their way into future seasons of the on-track series. iRacing Jetta TDI Cup series participants will be battling to earn their way into the 2010 driver selection event and compete for the chance to receive a fully-funded entry in the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing Jetta TDI Cup series driving the iRacing car.
About the guest drivers:
Levi LaVallee -- LaVallee is a professional snocross racer and freestyle snowmobile rider from Longville, Minnesota. He has had great success as a racer, and in 2007, he decided to give freestyle a try as well. After learning several tricks, including the backflip (a snowmobile weighs more than 400 lbs.), he entered his first freestyle competition and won. LaVallee had a breakout Winter X Games in 2008 where he won two gold medals and was awarded "Most Outstanding Athlete of the Winter X Games." In 2009, he competed in all four snowmobile events at the Winter X Games, the most of any competitor. In the "Next Trick" event, LaVallee attempted a double backflip -- the first ever in competition. He narrowly missed completing the trick, overshooting the landing by a few feet, but his attempt resulted in a tremendous amount of coverage. He plans on returning to the 2010 Winter X Games with similar determination and new tricks.
John Prather -- Prather is a 30-year-old IT professional who grew up around motorsport -- his father was an amateur sports car racer. He is a Chicago native and Tracy, California resident who is the highest ranked North American road racing competitor on iRacing. He has raced at Road America countless times in a simulation environment, but the Jetta TDI Cup race will mark his first time on the track in a real racecar. Prather is no stranger to the Volkswagen brand, as he drives a 2009 Volkswagen GTI. In addition, his father was a Volkswagen district service manager and technical instructor for 25 years.
Jamie Vondruska -- Vondruska of Glen Ellyn, Illinois founded VWvortex.com, an online community devoted to Volkswagen owners and enthusiasts. With more than one million readers each month, VWvortex is the largest VW enthusiast publication in the world. An avid car and racing enthusiast, Vondruska has been involved in club racing for a number of years and has attended several of Skip Barber's driving schools.