INDIANAPOLIS (February 21, 2003) - Opening the door for talented young racers to get an earlier start on their professional racing careers, Champ Car officials announced today that drivers under the age of 18 will now be eligible to drive in both...
INDIANAPOLIS (February 21, 2003) - Opening the door for talented young racers to get an earlier start on their professional racing careers, Champ Car officials announced today that drivers under the age of 18 will now be eligible to drive in both the Barber Dodge Pro Series and the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.
The new arrangement allows 16- and 17-year-old drivers to compete in both driver development series, providing they fulfill experience and talent requirements in addition to completing the emancipation process.
Emancipation is a legal process which allows those under the age of 18 to be considered adults and sign all legal documents for themselves. Drivers must be first emancipated in their state of residence and then have that decree enforced in the state of Indiana as a result of Champ Car being based in Indianapolis. From a racing perspective, this means the driver can sign his/her own Waiver of Liability, which is required to compete in any Champ Car sanctioned event.
The new policy will be evident this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as 16-year old driver Nelson Philippe of Valence, France will make his debut in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. He is a veteran of karting and formula car ranks in Europe. For Champ Car Ladder System officials, this is welcome news.
"I think this announcement is extremely positive and very significant in that it deepens the pool of drivers our team owners have to choose from," said CART Toyota Atlantic Championship President Vicki O'Connor. "Our team owners are always trying to find the most talented and marketable drivers to build their programs around, and I'm looking forward to getting qualified younger drivers into our series. Likewise, Champ Car sponsors are interested in hiring talented young drivers that they can build long-term programs around."
"As Champ Car focuses more and more on the development of young drivers, it is crucial that we eliminate any potential roadblocks for talented and capable drivers under the age of 18," commented Champ Car Driver Development Series Manager Robert Dole. "I think this process gives Champ Car Ladder System competitors a head start in their climb to the top ranks of racing, and more specifically, the Champ Car World Series."
"Looking across the sporting landscape, the age of competitors is gravitating toward younger participants, and motorsports is no exception," said George Tamayo, Director of Marketing and Communications for Skip Barber. "We have seen a number of exceptionally talented drivers in recent years have to put their careers in a holding pattern just because of their age. Thanks to this rule change, that will no longer be the case."
The Champ Car Ladder System encompasses Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the Formula Dodge National Championship, and Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow. The system is designed to provide aspiring racers with a clear path from karting to Champ Car. 2003 Champ Car rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay is a strong example of the Ladder System at work, as he began his racing career in karting before moving on to the Formula Dodge National Championship, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, and into Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.