SBRS: Competition Improves the Breed

Only weeks after its announcement, the inaugural Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER field is filling up quickly with some of the most talented young drivers in the country. In three weeks, 19 drivers have signed...

Only weeks after its announcement, the inaugural Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER field is filling up quickly with some of the most talented young drivers in the country. In three weeks, 19 drivers have signed on to compete in the new series.

Conceived as a series predicated on driver talent rather than available funds, the present entry list is already fulfilling that promise. Two Skip Barber Formula Dodge Race Series Champions and several of North America’s top karters are among those who have committed to drive in the National Championship series which gets underway on May 19-21 at Grattan Raceway in Grattan, Mich.

The top-3 drivers in the final points tally receive automatic bids to enter the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series “Big Scholarship” run-off at the end of the year, with the prize being a full ride in the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series. This is in addition to the $30,000 in prizes to be distributed throughout the year.

Brian Rivera, 27, of Miami Lakes, Fla., the 1998/99 Southern Series champion and Bryan Sellers,17, of Centerville, Ohio, the 1999 Midwestern Series champ are both slated to drive. Both Rivera and Sellers were also invitees to the ’99 Barber Dodge Pro Series “Big Scholarship” shoot-out last November at Sebring International Raceway, which was by all accounts the most closely contested “Big Scholarship” ever held. Both will be eligible to return to the shoot-out again this year. Moreover, Sellers was a runner-up winner to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the first ever Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Rivera finished that same race in fifth-place.

Four recent Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winners have gained entry to race in the nascent series by virtue of the scholarship. Kevin Christensen, 20, of Castaic, Ca., is a seven time International Karting Federation (IKF) regional champion. Michael Rossi, 18, of Murrieta, Ca., is an IKF Super Sereis Formula A champion, and has European karting experience having raced on the factory CRG squad. Jonathan Strohm, 18, of Wildwood, Mo. is Birel factory driver who holds the distinction of winning seven separate national karting championships in one season. Landon Yee, 18, of San Rafael, Ca., has three IKF Grand National championships to his credit as a factory Trackmagic driver.

Past Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner Ryan Howe, 21 of Temecula, Ca., is currently leading the points chase in the Skip Barber Western Race Series. He is joined by fellow Western Race Series competitors Davy Cook, 17, of Tallahassee, Fla. (3rd), Brian Angen, 22, of Campbell, Ca. (4th) and Damien Della-Santina, 25, of Los Angeles (8th). Quentin Wahl, of Montecito, Ca., who at 54 has been a long time competitor in the Skip Barber Race Series, and currently leads the Masters Division in the Western Series. Not to be left out is Chris Baker, 30, of Austin, Tx., from the Skip Barber Southern Race Series, who currently lies in sixth-place in that region.

All the way from Itatiba, Brazil comes 20 year-old Levi Simoes. He finished fourth at the National Championship event at Lime Rock Park which was followed by a “Big Scholarship” bid a month later. He was also the runner-up in the ‘98-‘99 Skip Barber Western Race Series.

Rounding out the entries are Jon Morley, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, who finished 10th at last year’s National Championship event. He was also a rookie contender in Midwest Series in 1998. Karting Scholarship invitees Anthony Simone, 20, of Aurora, Ontario, Dan Dileo, 17, of Markham, Ontario, and Tophie Stewart, 18, of Carmichael, Ca. have all committed to the series. Finally, Brian Cole,24, of Dumfries, Vir., Chris Wilcox, 23 of Australia and Ryan Jones of Maple Ridge, British Colombia have decided that the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship is the way to go. Jones has most recently graduated to 125 cc shifter karts, scoring a 1st Place in the Region 6 Gold Cup Series after having found success in the smaller displacement formulas. Both Cole and Wilcox have been top-10 Race Series finishers in the past two years. With several weeks still remaining before the entry deadline, the quality of this already fast field is sure to improve even further. If the old adage is true, that competition improves the breed, then the best open-wheel racing in North America is yet to come.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Davy Cook , Chris Baker , Skip Barber , Bryan Sellers , Quentin Wahl , Chris Wilcox , Anthony Simone , Michael Rossi , Jon Morley