CSOT: Buttonwillow season opener preview

Snap-on Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" Karting Series opens 2003 trail this weekend. BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. (April 24, 2003) -- Many of the nation's future auto racing stars begin their trek to possible stardom this weekend (April 25-27) when the...

Snap-on Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" Karting Series opens 2003 trail this weekend.

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. (April 24, 2003) -- Many of the nation's future auto racing stars begin their trek to possible stardom this weekend (April 25-27) when the 2003 Snap-on.com Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" presented by RACER national karting series opens at the new Buttonwillow Raceway karting track near Bakersfield.

Led by a host of top national karting drivers, the season opener for the Western Division of Stars of Tomorrow will feature young racers in six separate classes including the new international categories ICC (125cc Shifters) and ICA (100cc direct drive). In addition, the other categories include the Senor Class of Rotax (125cc Clutch), 80cc Junior Shifter, Junior Super Can (100cc shifter) and the Grand Proucts Cadet class for youngster 8- 12 years of age).

"We are very excited about the opening of the new Stars of Tomorrow season," said Bobby Rahal, the three-time Champ Car champion and one of the prinicipals of the Stars series. "We have updated the series over the winter with the international classes, a major series sponsor, a presenting sponsor, new management, new media opportunities including a new partner in the SPEED Channel. We know the racing will be close, competitive and very entertaining this year and the 2003 series will produce some of North America's future racing stars."

The Buttonwillow event, set on the new seven-tenths of a mile course, will be run in conjunction with the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) regional event on the bigger road circuit. Practice for the Stars event will be on Friday with two full programs (qualifying, heats and finals) slated for Saturday and Sunday.

"We are expecting a good field for the opening race of the year," said Paul Zalud, director of operations for Stars. "We had some great racing last year and, with the competition set for 2003, I expect the action to be even better. These young racers will have some great wheel-to-wheel racing at Buttonwillow."

Many of the nation's top karting teams are expected to be on hand this weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway including Trackmagic Racing, PTK Racing (Paul Tracy's team), Italian Motors and KLS Racing.

Among the top drivers will be former national champion Kyle Martin of Dallas, Ben Petter of Seattle, Alex Speed of Manteca, Calif., younger brother of former national champion Scott Speed, past karting champion Darren Elliott of Canyon Country, Calif., Lorenzo Mandarino of Vancouver, B.C., Canada and 16-year-old Nick Green of San Jose, Calif., son of former World of Outlaws sprint car driver Tim Green.

In addition, 17-year-old Michael Abbante of Las Vegas, one of the finalist in Danny Sullivan's Red Bull American driver search, will be returning to the Stars of Tomorrow series this weekend. Abbante is considered by many to be one of America's hopes for a Formula One drive in the future.

"The Stars ICC class will be very competitive at Buttonwillow," said Martin, one of U.S. karting's top performers for nearly a decade. "I expect all of the classes to have some great racing especially with the new track. We tested there one day and it is a nice, wide circuit. I know our team (Trackmagic) is anxious to get there."

The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presenting by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder. Stars focuses on recognizing the skills of the drivers rather than the technology development within the machines, using FIA/CIK International standards. More information can be found at www.cartstars.com.

Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global developer, manufacturer and marketer of tool and equipment solutions for professional tool users. Product lines include hand tools, power tools, automotive diagnostics and shop equipment, tool storage products, automotive diagnostics software and other solutions for the transportation service, industrial, government, education, agricultural, and other commercial applications, including construction and electrical. Products are sold through its franchise dealer van, company direct sales and distributor and internet channels. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $2+ billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin and employs approximately 14,000 worldwide. More information can be found at www.snap-on.com.


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Series Kart
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta , Danny Sullivan , Scott Speed , Nick Green , Lorenzo Mandarino , Tim Green