Announcing the New Format: The Red Bull Driver Search is Officially Launched for 2003. U.S. racing legend Danny Sullivan and the Red Bull Energy Drink company announced today (11 March) their broader, bigger 2003 American Driver ...
Announcing the New Format: The Red Bull Driver Search is Officially Launched for 2003.
U.S. racing legend Danny Sullivan and the Red Bull Energy Drink company announced today (11 March) their broader, bigger 2003 American Driver Search program.
The Formula 1 World Championship is a global leader in TV viewership, on par with the Olympics and World Soccer Championship. The Formula 1 title is fought over every year during 16 prestigious Grand Prix events staged on 5 continents. Each Grand Prix is watched by an average of 500 million TV viewers around the world, generating yearly revenues of up to $2 billion in TV rights and advertising time. Formula 1 racing team budgets can reach over $200 million. Formula 1 drivers - a group limited to 24 aces per racing season - are exceptional athletes, among the most highly paid in the world.
Yet, there is no American presence in Formula 1, there are no American drivers; no American teams. A year ago, U.S. racing legend Danny Sullivan and the Red Bull Energy Drink Company set out to change that with a big plan.
With the program successfully launched last year, Sullivan and Red Bull were in New York today to announce and detail a bigger, broader 2003 Red Bull Driver Search program. The formal 2003 launch took place at Sardi's, the famous "restaurant of the stars" on 44th Street in New York's theatre district.
Present amidst scores of media representatives were Tony George, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the USGP; Adam Saal, CART V.P. of Communications, and Skip Barber, the patron saint of young racing talent. Also present were over 150 members of the famous Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society, co-hosts of the event.
Danny Sullivan showed an exciting video of the 2002 launch and final selection of 4 junior aces, then presented an even more ambitious Red Bull program for 2003 (see below).
"We've got a great country with a lot of terrific young drivers," said Sullivan; "but it takes a lot of sacrifices to rise up to and race in Formula 1. Red Bull now offers a comprehensive way for American talent to go race in Europe. It's second to none."
Scott Speed, the 20-year-old California native who became one of the first 4 Red Bull winners last October, concurred wholeheartedly: "I've sacrificed everything I have to achieve this. I'm not in it for the money or the girls. I want to be Champion and prove Red Bull right. They have taken leaps and bounds to place us in the right spot."
Speed, who said the 2002 competition was "friendly but ruthless," also praised the emphasis Red Bull places on physical and mental fitness and how tough it was for him just to overcome that hurdle.
Dr. Pansold, the medical authority from Vienna assisting Red Bull with their fitness evaluation program, explained: "Few sponsors pay attention to the physical and psychological components of their driver evaluation and training. Red Bull understands that top level athletes must have a very high stress-resistance threshold. Raising that threshold level involves not only cardio-vascular fitness programs, but also psychological training, muscular mass monitoring and even a specific diet."
Before presenting the specifics of the 2003 program, Danny Sullivan made it clear how much broader the access will be this year: "We will still pursue the scouting in junior American racing series. But this year, we will also offer access to would-be champions in 25 go-kart centers around the country."
Program Description The Red Bull Driver Search program is designed to directly address the lack of American presence at the pinnacle of motor racing: the Formula 1 World Championship.
After a very successful launch in 2002, the Red Bull Driver Search continues with an even broader reach in 2003.
The objective this year is to open up the selection process further and add between 2 and 4 new promising American candidates to the 4 who were selected last year. These 4 drivers are now testing and preparing for their 2003 race season in Formula 3000, Formula Nissan, Formula 3, and Formula Renault.
The long term goal is to have a steady group of 4 to 6 American drivers racing in Europe, groomed to break into Formula 1 and compete for the World Championship.
The Red Bull Driver Search mission is not only to scout and spot promising young racers with great potential and limited funding; it is also to discover and support the "diamond in the rough," lacking the knowledge and contacts needed to embark on a career in racing.
Danny Sullivan, former Formula 1 driver for Tyrell-Ford, 1985 Indy 500 winner and 1988 CART IndyCar Champion, is in charge of the program. The 2003 program will take a Dual Approach and run under the following framework and general calendar:
APPROACH 1: Junior racing drivers in current competitive venues As in 2002, a cadre of "undercover scouts" with outstanding racing experience will select 12 promising drivers during the spring and summer. Their search for candidates will take place within the traditional U.S. junior racing formulae. The age range for eligibility is 16 to 19 for both males and females.
APPROACH 2: Junior racing drivers in open go-kart competition New for 2003, a separate set of 12 drivers will be selected through a process of competitive elimination within the American go-kart scene, through organized indoor and outdoor events. This opportunity is open to every prospective American racer with the appropriate record or talent. The age range for eligibility is also 16 to 19 for both males and females.
The go-kart selection process will take place nationally in 2 distinct Phases:
Phase 1 - April to May Go-kart racers from across the country can enter events organized by Red Bull and run by IKA-sanctioned indoor karting centers in 25 different locations across the country. From each of these 25 centers, 4 top qualifiers (100 racers total) will be chosen and invited to compete in Red Bull's Phase 2 outdoor go-kart events.
Phase 2 - June to August The 100 racers selected from Phase 1 will compete in one of 4 regional outdoor go-kart events organized and run by Red Bull. These 4 same-format elimination events, with 25 drivers each, will be held at professional outdoor go-kart tracks in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West.
These events will use equal equipment to assure fairness and a total of 12 racers, 3 from each of the 4 regions, will be selected for the semi-final competition.
SEMI-FINAL QUALIFYING EVENT Sebring, Florida - September 2-4, 2003 24 semi-finalists - the 12 candidates selected by the "undercover scouts" (Approach 1), and the 12 selected through the karting events (Approach 2) - will be brought together at the famed Sebring race track in central Florida, site of the first ever U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1959.
In a three-day competition at Sebring, these drivers will be schooled and tested by the famed Skip Barber Organization in Formula Dodge 2-liter race cars. During a final day of intense competition, they will vie and give it all they've got to win one of the 10 finalist spots. Once the 10 finalists are selected, their names will be kept in confidence until the USGP in Indianapolis 3 weeks later.
FINALIST ANOUNCEMENT USGP Weekend - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - September 25, 2003 The 10 finalists will be revealed and personally introduced at a press conference during the weekend of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2003 FINALS Paul Ricard Circuit, Southern France - October 12, 2003 The arena for the finals will be the high-tech Paul Ricard circuit, host to the Formula 1 Grand Prix of France until the mid 1980's and a track used for testing by many current Formula 1 teams. The 10 Red Bull finalists, testing in F3 cars, will battle it out on the Mediterranean circuit in an intense two-day competition under the expert eyes of Danny Sullivan and his team of judges.
The judges will select between 2 and 4 winners to compete in the 2004 European season, and join the 2002 winners who will have proved successful in 2003, their first European season with Red Bull support. The exact number of new drivers selected at Paul Ricard this October will be determined by the performance of the 2002 winners and the potential they showed for attracting the interest of Formula 1 teams this year.
The 2003 Red Bull Driver Search will be starting in several American cities in less than 4 weeks. It will gather momentum through the summer and reach a crescendo at the U.S. Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the last weekend of September.