The Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham, England opened today with an historic announcement by Skip Barber and Pat Leahy, Vice President of Marketing for CART. Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.(NYSE:MPH) and Skip Barber,...
The Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham, England opened today with an historic announcement by Skip Barber and Pat Leahy, Vice President of Marketing for CART. Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.(NYSE:MPH) and Skip Barber, Inc. have merged a proven training and scholarship system with three internationally renowned racing series to create a training-development-realization cycle that it is unprecedented anywhere in motorsports.
The partnership will allow talented young racers to benefit not only from the superior training, but from the vast network of resources that both CART and Skip Barber can provide in the way of driver promotion to teams, sponsors, media and fans of the sport.
"The defined path to the top level of open-wheel racing in North America now begins in karts and continues through the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship at an amateur level." Said Patrick Leahy, CART Senior Vice President of Marketing, "The professional rung on the ladder begins with the Barber Dodge Pro Series, and progresses to Toyota Atlantics or Indy Lights and then Champ Cars without missing a step."
"CART fans and sponsors now have the opportunity to become acquainted with the up-and-coming stars of the sport in the same way that fans of the NBA or NFL use collegiate sports to become familiar with the athletes of the future in those sports."
A key component of the CART-Skip Barber Scholarship Ladder is bringing young talented drivers into a system where their development is not hindered with large financial obstacles. Ensuring that their talents will not go unnoticed builds upon the foundations of the partnership.
"Talent can go further in this system than in any other without big money being a factor. The Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder will invest over $1.3 million annually in the future stars of open-wheel racing," said Skip Barber. "Many of the drivers that come through our schools and series aspire to race in CART. I am very pleased that we and CART are able to come together to ensure that those racer's dreams have a better chance of becoming reality through the assistance that we offer coupled with CART's ability to promote these future talents."
In addition to the scholarships, CART will sanction the Barber Dodge Pro Series beginning in 2001. That Series thus becomes the "Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of CART" and the steppingstone to the Toyota Atlantic or Dayton Indy Lights Championship. For the first time in its history, CART, in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championships Presented by RACER, will crown a recognized National Amateur Champion. Moreover, the four Skip Barber Formula Dodge Regional Champions will also be recognized as the Regional Amateur Champions of CART.
Everything begins with proper training. As part of this groundbreaking partnership, the Skip Barber Racing School, the world's biggest and best, is now the "Official Racing School of CART."
"We believe that a major factor in increasing interest in our sport is forging a direct link to the grass roots of racing," said Leahy. "As a result of this alliance, ordinary people will be able to go to CART's Official Racing School, and over 700 amateur drivers throughout America will be able to compete for a CART Championship. Not only will this make our brand more visible, it will also help us attract and retain more of the stars of tomorrow in the CART system."
The Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder begins in the karting ranks with over a quarter-million dollars allotted to aid karters in their transition to racecars. The balance of the scholarships goes on to support numerous rungs along the ladder with both financial as well as coaching and career advice culminating in the $305,000 Career Enhancement Award given to the Barber Dodge Pro Series champion to further his/her career in the CART Dayton Indy Lights or Toyota Atlantic Series. This year's pre-season favorite Ryan Hunter-Reay, 19, who has won a Scholarship at every step, has earned nearly half a million dollars toward the advancement of his career.
In 2000, 22 Skip Barber trained drivers competed in Champ Car, Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic Series competition. Notables included CART FedEx Rookie of the Year Kenny Brack, who was himself Rookie of the Year and Barber Pro Series Champion in 1993, Bryan Herta (Formula Dodge and Barber Pro Series Champion), Juan Montoya (Skip Barber Racing School, Barber Pro Series) and Michael Andretti (Skip Barber Racing School).