Midwestern drivers thrive in German-born series

Americans in Formula 1 are as rare as hen's teeth, but Formula BMW drivers Eric Morrow of Indianapolis, Tim Hollowell of Greenwood, Indiana and Detroit's Jordan Dick look to change that deficit and put the United States solidly into the world's ...

Americans in Formula 1 are as rare as hen's teeth, but Formula BMW drivers Eric Morrow of Indianapolis, Tim Hollowell of Greenwood, Indiana and Detroit's Jordan Dick look to change that deficit and put the United States solidly into the world's fastest cars within a decade.

All three drivers are participating in the two FBMW races scheduled for this weekend (June 16th and 17th) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in support of the F1 United States Grand Prix.

"It's a beginner-level formula series, designed to give young drivers a platform on which to build a career," said Morrow on Saturday (June 16th). "They've got an education and training faculty of two experienced drivers who go out on the track after sessions and start creating good habits at the beginner level before we move on to something with a lot more power where you can't make those mistakes. These cars are pretty sharp-looking and the professionalism is one of the key traits of the series."

Eric has a solid background of karting which drew him toward the series only two years ago. His first experience, in a pouring rain on the F1 test track at Valencia (Spain) turned out to be a disappointment.

"I did about five years of karting, and then in 2005 I competed for an FBMW scholarship by participating in an invitation-only event in Valencia. Unfortunately, I didn't win a scholarship that year so I went back to racing in senior-level karting for two years and did some Skip Barber racing. Finally, I went to Valencia again last year, won the scholarship and now I'm in my fifth race in Formula BMW."

Born from BMW's roots involvement with Formula ADAC in the early 1990's, the Formula BMW series has grown into a legitimate stepping-stone for young racers looking to jump from karting into formula competition.

BMW subsidiary Designworks/USA in association with France's Mygale and BMW Motorsport in Munich are responsible for the concept which is now operating in its fourth year.

Kevlar and carbon fiber make up the bulk of the chassis construction that tops the scales at a tiny, size-zero 1100 pounds.

Enhanced safety features of the design include a stepped underbody, wheel tethers, and a specially-constructed seat which can be removed intact from the car with the driver to meet an emergent need.

Powered by a potent BMW K 1200 RS four-cylinder motorcycle engine that generates 140 horsepower, the design can achieve speeds in excess of 140 mph.

In order to spur innovation within the constraints of budget and competition rules, the gear ratios, axle kinematics, shock absorbers and wings are all adjustable.

Tim Hollowell, who grew up just south of the city of Indianapolis, also got the start that led him to the Speedway's road course this weekend on kart tracks around Indiana.

"It's one of the most prestigious series for young drivers who are making their way up the motorsports ladder. The car is just a smaller version of a Formula 1 car with a 1200cc motorcycle engine, six-speed sequential gearbox, a monocoque construction and a monoshock in the front. It's quite fun to drive."

For Tim, the move into the series has required him to continue to develop his skills as a driver and become a student of one of modern racing's most important elements: aerodynamics.

"It's a lot different (from karting)," he said. "The braking requires different pressure levels. The car has a lot of downforce, so you have to learn to vary the pressure on the pedal in different situations. It's a huge learning curve in moving up from the kart with a solid axle."

Nineteen year-old Jordan Dick of Northville, Michigan got started in FBMW through karting's ICC 125 shifter division. His goal is to become a professional race car driver and he sees the North American-based competition the most likely avenue to take him to that end.

"FBMW seemed like the most logical choice," he said in describing his motivation for choosing to refine his craft behind the whirling wheel logo. "When you talk to other people and you say 'FBMW' people know."

"It's promoted well and we run with the Grand Prix cars in Montreal and Indianapolis. Our next race is in San Jose, in three weeks, supporting the Champ Car race there."

"The goal for me is Formula 1," he continued. "That would be the ultimate, but right now I'm looking at Indy Pro Series and the Atlantics. Indy Pro Series is getting really strong and now looks like the most likely step for me to get to the next level."

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Skip Barber , Jordan Dick , Eric Morrow