(Lakeville, CT.) June 11, 2003-The Barber Dodge Pro Series heads to the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca this weekend to contest round four of ten in the 2003 championship. The weekend is the first of two west-coast race dates, as the Pro Series will...
(Lakeville, CT.) June 11, 2003-The Barber Dodge Pro Series heads to the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca this weekend to contest round four of ten in the 2003 championship. The weekend is the first of two west-coast race dates, as the Pro Series will race on the following weekend at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. Twenty-three racers are entered for this weekend's race, and all of them are looking forward to racing on the spectacular 2.238- mile circuit in scenic Monterey, California.
Driving identically prepared Dodge-powered Reynards equipped with Michelin Pilot SX tires, the field should spawn some exciting and close racing in the intense quest for the $100,000 Season Championship top-prize and the over $1 million total purse
The Laguna Seca event will be the first track that the Pro Series field has experience racing on this season, as each of the first three rounds, held in St.Petersburg, Florida, Monterrey, Mexico, and Milwaukee Wisconsin, were inaugural visits for the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Leo Maia of Oakland, California leads the 2003 championship points battle by sixteen points over Mexico's Memo Rojas. With the top five in the points battle still very close, every competitor knows that both speed and consistency will be required to take the championship.
Maia scored a win in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, and backed that performance up with a second place finish behind David Martinez at the second round in Monterrey, Mexico. Maia scored his second win of the season in round three with a late-race pass of pole sitter Victor Gonzalez to bolster his lead over Rojas. The 2003 season has been the best start for Maia entering the Barber- Champ Car Ladder system, and the young Oakland native wants to keep his points-scoring momentum up as the season gets fast and furious, with the remaining six races taking place over a fast three months.
"My plan for this weekend is to just going to keep doing what I have been doing so far this season, and go for a win," says Maia. "I have high expectations for this weekend since I had a really good race here last year, and I ran with the lead pack. I have a great baseline setup as we head into this weekend, and that should help me out."
Several drivers will be hoping make Laguna the site of their first-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series victory. Mexico's Memo Rojas scored a podium in last seasons race, and has three third-place finishes so far this season, but is desperate to get atop the podium to cut the lead to Maia in the championship standings.
Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, is also hoping to break through to victory this weekend after getting off to a fast start in St. Petersburg with a second place finish. Di Leo scored a sixth place result in Mexico and earned a seventh-place finish in his first Barber Dodge Pro Series oval race in Milwaukee.
Barber-ChampCar Scholarship drivers Burt Frisselle, Colin Fleming, and Scott Poirier are all looking to make the step up to the podium as well, with the young guns all acclimating themselves well in their first oval starts in Milwaukee, scoring a fifth, tenth, and twelfth finishing position respectively.
Colin Fleming of North Hills, California is looking forward to the weekend, and is a big fan of the twisty layout of Laguna Seca.
"I'm really looking forward to racing here in my home state," said Fleming. "It's only the second time I have raced at Laguna, as I made my first Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER magazine start there, so at least I will have some track knowledge as we go into the weekend, unlike everywhere else we have been this season! I think I'll be able to concentrate more on getting my car set up early in the weekend, and go from there. It's just a great track, just there's nothing like it. Its such a thrill every lap to come barreling down the corkscrew."
* Ryan Millen will make his Barber Dodge Pro Series debut this weekend with backing from Rod Millen Special Vehicles. The Millen name is famous for racing success in both road racing and on the heights of Pikes Peak.
* Chris Baker of Houston, Texas, is coming off his career-best finish of fourth place at Milwaukee, and after having run the majority of the race in third place, is hungry to taste the podium champagne this weekend.
* Barber-Champ Car Scholarship driver Robbie Montinola rejoins the series after taking a one-race break from the schedule at Milwaukee. A resident of Laguna Beach, California, Montinola wont have to leave the state to make it to the race.
* German Quiroga of Mexico City, Mexico has scored a top ten finish in every race of the 2003 season, and is hoping to break into the top five this weekend.
* Brian Johnson and Bret MacDonald are two of the six California natives participating in the race this weekend. Johnson and MacDonald will be making their first Barber Dodge Pro Series starts at Laguna.
* Tokyo native Racer Kashima will be looking forward to the next two races, in Monterey and Portland, as they will be as close to home as the Barber Dodge Pro Series will race this season.
* Victor Gonzalez of Hatoray, Puerto Rico, scored his best-ever result with his outstanding second place at Milwaukee in round three, and is hoping to improve by "just one position" this weekend.
Eight of the entered field hail from the United States, with the remainder of the field providing representation from all parts of the globe as the Pro Series has once again attracted international attention and participation. David Martinez , Memo Rojas, German Quiroga, and Luis Pelayo will fly Mexico's colors this weekend, 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. Shinji Kahima will make the long trip over from Tokyo, Japan for the race, and 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 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.