(LAKEVILLE, Conn.) October 8, 2002-- Skip Barber LLC announced today a plan to implement significant changes to the $1 million Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder beginning with the 2003 season. The new structure will provide funding to more drivers...
(LAKEVILLE, Conn.) October 8, 2002-- Skip Barber LLC announced today a plan to implement significant changes to the $1 million Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder beginning with the 2003 season. The new structure will provide funding to more drivers than ever before in the long history of the only scholarship program of its kind, while also providing new incentive for drivers to develop their skills in developing partnerships and sponsorships. The new format reflects the experience of having an established scholarship system, which originated in 1991, and has helped the careers of drivers like NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau, Indianapolis 500 Champion Kenny Brack, Sportscar ace Bryan Herta and current Toyota Atlantic stars Michael Valiante and Ryan Hunter-Reay
The program has been expanded to include more drivers. As in the past, the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Champion, the top performer in the annual Barber-CART Scholarship Runoff and the Barber Dodge Pro Series Rookie of the Year will continue to enjoy the highest level of support. Whereas in 2002 three drivers received support, the new format sees an additional five drivers benefiting from some level of funding. Thus a total of eight drivers will share over half a million dollars of Barber-CART Scholarships.
"The competition is so intense for the scholarships, and the talent pool so deep, it only made sense to expand the program to include more drivers. We are seeing more and more of our drivers move up the ladder. With so many opportunities becoming available in CART over the next few seasons, this was the perfect time to expand the program, and give more drivers the assistance to get their careers off the ground, " said Jeremy Dale, Managing Director of the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
The Barber Dodge Rookie of the Year who returns to the series, the top-performer in the Scholarship Runoff, and the Formula Dodge National Champion will now each receive $100,000 in funding towards a season in Barber Dodge Pro Series competition. Ten thousand dollars are earmarked for testing and the remaining $90,000 is divided equally into the ten race schedule to be utilized to offset the cost of racing. This is designed to insure that drivers do not expire their credit before the end of the season and as a result, makes the driver accountable for their own race budget. The drivers will each still be responsible for a percentage of the racing costs.
"Going forward we felt that it is in the long-term best interest of the drivers to have to continue to bring some racing budget to the table regardless of having won a scholarship," said George Tamayo, Director of Marketing & Communications for Skip Barber. "It is unrealistic in this sport to not have to do just that at virtually every level further up the ladder. From a racing perspective, we train drivers in all of our series to develop good racing habits early. We want to incite drivers to cultivate marketing partnerships early in their careers, because there may not be another Scholarship at the end of the year. This series is about realistically beginning careers, not ending them before they have the opportunity to flourish."
Drivers who finish in positions 2 through 8 in the overall standings of the 2002 Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER receive an automatic invitation to gather at the Barber-CART Scholarship Runoff in Sebring, Fla. on December 18-20.
For the 2003 season, several participants in the Barber-CART Scholarship Runoff will emerge with significant financial support for their racing program even if they do not win the event. The runner up in the Runoff will receive $70,000 in support, with the first runner-up receiving $50,000 in support. Second, third, and fourth runners-up will each receive $30,000 in support from Skip Barber. The backing for each of these drivers will reflect a similar breakdown of expenses to provide testing opportunities for drivers.
"We are in full support of expanding the Barber CART Scholarship Ladder," commented Robert Dole, CART Driver Development Manager. "While the Barber CART Scholarships are already a key and integral part of the CART Driver Development System, we believe this move is more in line with the current demands of drivers looking to move up the CART Ladder. While it grants worthy drivers a strong form of assistance, it still challenges them to learn and succeed at the business of motorsports."
Drivers in the Runoff are tested in the cars not only for speed, but also for consistency and the ability to effectively communicate with the engineers. In addition, their presentation skills outside of the car are taken into account in an effort to cultivate the most complete drivers. The winners are decided by a panel of motorsports insiders including Barber Dodge Pro Series driver coaches, motor racing journalists such as Jeremy Shaw and Gordon Kirby, returning "runoff" winners such as Ryan Hunter-Reay, and team owners. The panel has included in the past names such as Bryan Herta, Tommy Kendall, Chris Kneifel, and Roberto Moreno.
The Rookie of the Year program will reflect the same structure as that of the Big Scholarship, with Skip Barber presenting $100,000 to the highest finishing rookie in the Pro Series towards a second season in the category. The scholarship will similarly be utilized for both testing and race costs, helping the driver develop during the off-season to prepare.
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 $100,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.
Drivers such as 1999 CART FedEx Champion, 2000 Indianapolis 500 Champion and current Formula One driver Juan Montoya, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau, and 1999 Indianapolis 500 Champion Kenny Brack as well as stars of the future such as 2002 Barber Dodge Champion A.J. Allmendinger, 2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty, Atlantics race winners Michael Valiante, Rocky Moran Jr., and Ryan Hunter-Reay have all emerged from the Barber Dodge Pro Series.