U.S. Professional Auto Racing Season Kicks Off This Weekend at California Speedway 25 Drivers Set to do Battle in Pacific F2000 Championship Opener Fontana, Calif. (January 27, 2005) -- The first professional auto race of the 2005 North...
U.S. Professional Auto Racing Season Kicks Off This Weekend at California Speedway
25 Drivers Set to do Battle in Pacific F2000 Championship Opener
Fontana, Calif. (January 27, 2005) -- The first professional auto race of the 2005 North American season will take place this weekend, featuring a hungry band of 25 drivers looking to establish an early mark in the burgeoning West Coast-based Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire. The event will feature a pair of 30-minute races, one each on Saturday and Sunday, and will be held on the 2.8-mile combined oval/road course at California Speedway as part of the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA) Route 66 Road Races.
The entry list is headed by 19-year-old rising star Brad Jaeger (pronounced Jay-ger), from Cincinnati, Ohio, who won the 2004 Pacific F2000 Championship on the strength of three race wins and 10 consecutive podium finishes in his PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04.
This is a great championship," confirmed Jaeger, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. "There's so much to learn in this series, and racing against some great guys -- and at a reasonable cost -- means it's hard to beat anywhere else. Plus, since most other [open-wheel] championships don't start until March or April, this is a great way to get back in a car and re-familiarize myself."
Among Jaeger's fiercest rivals will be PR1 Motorsports teammate Mike Forest, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who also won three races in 2004 en route to second place in the championship; veteran John Lombardo Jr., from Brea, Calif., who claimed two victories and third overall last year in his P-1 Racing Van Diemen RF03; and reigning SCCA National Formula Ford Champion Scott Rarick, from Santa Monica, Calif., who will also drive a Van Diemen.
Other top competitors will cover the entire scale of experience, ranging from 63-year-old Les Phillips, from Bakersfield, Calif., who finished fourth in last year's title-chase and will drive a Pinto-powered Van Diemen RF99, to gifted youngster J.R. Hildebrand, from Sausalito, Calif., who will drive one of four PR1 Motorsports Mygales among the field. Hildebrand, 17, marked himself as one to watch in the future by claiming the 2004 SCCA Formula Russell Championship Presented by Yokohama in his rookie racing season.
This year's Pacific F2000 Series will comprise six double-header race weekends, each offering a purse of $6000 in cash as well as other prizes. The overall series champion will be determined according to points scored in the total of 12 races. In an innovative concept, new for 2005, drivers will be able to chase additional honors in both a "Spring Cup" (comprising this weekend's pair of races, plus the next two events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, on February 18-20, and Phoenix International Raceway, on April 1-3) and a "Summer Cup" which will also comprise three race weekends (and six more races).
"The new 'Spring Cup' and 'Summer Cup' concept is designed to be 'inclusive' insofar as we hope it will attract some drivers who might not have the funds -- or the time -- to compete in all six race weekends but still would like to chase the goal of winning a championship title," said series founder Les Phillips, who also serves as general manager at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, Calif.
The Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire features purpose-built, modern, single-seat, open-wheel race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines or the slightly older, carbureted, 2.0-liter Ford "Pinto" engines, both of which produce around 150 horsepower. The cars -- with four different chassis manufacturers represented this weekend (Van Diemen, Mygale, Carbir and Crossle) -- weigh in at just 1190 lbs, employ "slick" (treadless) Cooper racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140mph.
Past F2000 graduates include two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., Champ Car World Series star (and 1996 champion) Jimmy Vasser and the late Greg Moore, who went on to win the 1996 Indy Lights Championship and Champ Car Rookie of the Year honors in 1997.