(Lakeville, CT.)February 17- The 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series will once again bring the best and the brightest of the future of open wheel racing together to fight for the Series Championship. The field of talented racers hopes to convert success...
(Lakeville, CT.)February 17- The 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series will once again bring the best and the brightest of the future of open wheel racing together to fight for the Series Championship. The field of talented racers hopes to convert success in the Pro Series into a step up the ladder, the same way Juan Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and A.J. Allmendinger have done before them. Driving identically prepared Dodge-engined Reynard 98E's equipped with Michelins, the 2003 field, with its mix of returning drivers and swift rookies, should spawn some exciting and close racing in the intense quest for the $100,000 top-prize and the over $1 million total purse.
The 2003 season will once again feature ten rounds of competition with every race taking place in support of the Champ Car World Series. Drivers will not only participate before a large and captive audience of race fans, but also have the opportunity to show what they are made of to prospective employers in the Toyota Atlantic and Champ Car ranks.
The field will see several returning drivers try and convert their experience and speed into a championship. Dan Di Leo, of Markham, Ontario, finished fourth in the 2002 season standings on the strength of two podium finishes, at Portland and Vancouver, as well as a total of six top-five finishes during the season. The young racer has the consistency to match his speed, and should develop into a force this season, his second in the category.
Leo Maia, who won the Barber-CART "Big Scholarship" in 2002, will return to the Pro Series in 2003 with the aim of improving on his sixth-place finish from last season. The young Miami, Florida, resident took his maiden victory last season with a stunning drive at Road America , and is no doubt hoping to make it to the top step of the podium again.
Memo Rojas returns for a second consecutive season. The experienced Mexican secured three runner-up finishes in 2002 at Laguna Seca, Toronto, and Montreal, on his way to fifth in the season standings. Rojas' level head inside the cockpit should serve him well, as he is now armed with a full season in the Reynard 98E, and will benefit from knowing all of the tracks. Rojas is particularly looking forward to the second round of competition in Monterrey, Mexico, where he is hoping to take his maiden win in Barber Dodge competition.
Al Unser will be making his first start in the Pro Series this season, and the offspring of the legendary racer will look to continue to improve his racecraft in the car. Unser participated in the Barber-Champ Car Pro Series Runoff in December, and got up to speed quickly in the Reynard 98E, and will no doubt continue to improve into a threat during the season.
Hawaii's Burt Frisselle made three starts in 2002 in the Pro Series to become acquainted with the format of the race weekends, and to develop some seat time in the Reynard 98E. The exercise proved to be useful, as Frisselle secured funding at the Runoff in December toward his 2003 season on the strength of his performance in and out of the car.
Colin Fleming placed sixth in the 2002 Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine and impressed deeply at the Barber-Champ Car Runoff in December to take the top prize of $100,000 towards the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series season. It was the first time Fleming had driven the powerful Reynard-Dodge 98E, and he adapted quite quickly to the larger car. The young Californian will try and keep his learning curve steep as he begins the next chapter in his racing career.
Second in Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine in 2002 with three wins, Scott Poirier was invited to participate in the Red Bull drivers search before taking up the invitation to participate in the Barber-Champ Car Runoffin December, where he secured backing towards his 2003 season. The young ace from Florida is hungry for a win, and don't be surprised to see him take it early in the season.
Other drivers who will be trying to stake their claim to the championship will include Barber-Champ Car Run-Off competitor Robby Montinola, as well as series newcomer Guy Cosmo, who won the Formula Mazda Championship last season and Chris Baker, who has risen through the Skip Barber ranks to return to the Pro Series for his second season.
The Series has once again attracted international attention and participation as Memo Rojas, German Quiroga, and Luis Pelayo will fly Mexico's colors this season, with Antoine Bessette, Dan Di Leo, Chris Green, Mike Richardson, and Josh Beaulieu representing Canada. The Pro Series will race in Canada three times this season, and will race in Mexico for the first time at the Monterrey Grand Prix along with the Champ Car World Series in March.
Victor Gonzalaz of Hatoray, Puerto Rico, and Nelson Phillipe of Valence, France round out the contingent of international competitors taking part in the season.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series will assemble next for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the weekend of February 21-23. The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships. 29 Brook Street, Lakeville, Conn., 06039