This weekend marks the opening round of the 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine. The young guns of the Barber-Champ Car Ladder will assemble to race on the legendary 3.7-mile circuit to try and stake...
This weekend marks the opening round of the 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine. The young guns of the Barber-Champ Car Ladder will assemble to race on the legendary 3.7-mile circuit to try and stake their claim to the future of open wheel racing. Twenty-six drivers are entered for the invitation-only championship, and each will be utilizing the Formula Dodge R/T2000, identically prepared by the Skip Barber Racing crew.
The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last year's champion, Grant Maimen, who will compete this summer in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull American Formula One Driver Search, to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who made his first Champ Car World Series start last month in St. Petersburg, Florida. Other graduates include 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger who will make his Toyota Atlantic debut next week in Monterrey, Mexico, 2002 FF2000 Champion Bryan Sellars, and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser, Scott Poirier, Leonardo Maia, and Colin Fleming.
The 2003 Championship will again feature a field deep in talent comprised of champions from lower formulae and karting. Raphael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, secured his Barber-Champ Car Scholarship at Sebring last December in the Formula Dodge National Run-Off, and is hoping to convert this opportunity into a championship. The young Brazilian was quickest in every session during the event, and is hoping to keep the pace up through the 2003 season.
Four other drivers in the field are also members of the Barber-Champ Car Scholarship program, as Joe D'Agostino of Plantation, FL, Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, NV, and David Jurca of Federal Way, WA all secured a funded ride in the 2003 Formula Dodge Championship after impressing in the Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Run-Off in January.
The rookies in this seasons championship will have to come up to speed quickly, though, to defend against some of the drivers returning to the Formula Dodge National Championship. Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba , participated in the Barber-Champ Car Run Off in December and faired well, but has elected to come back to take care of what he considers to be unfinished business in the National Championship. Imrie finished fourth in the championship standings last season with one win to his credit last season, and will no doubt be a driver to watch this season. Likewise, Zoltan Bodor of Cooper City, FL has recently taken two wins in Formula Dodge Regional competition and Brian Frisselle who also has stepped top step of the podium in Regional competition, and should provide some exciting duels.
The stature of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine as a key rung in the development ladder is reflected in the international interest in the series, with drivers from five different nationalities, Canada, Mexico, Lithuania, Brazil, and the United States, taking part in this years championship.