SBRS: Series kicks off VIR spectator season

Alton, Va. (April 22) -- The future stars of American open-wheel racing will be showcased as VIRginia International Raceway opens its spectator season with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER over the weekend of...

Alton, Va. (April 22) -- The future stars of American open-wheel racing will be showcased as VIRginia International Raceway opens its spectator season with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER over the weekend of April 25-27.

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER is an important rung on the career ladder for aspiring open-wheel racers. It s the Official National Amateur Championship of CART, and was designed to bridge the gap between the top karting ranks and professional racing. Drivers utilize identically prepared Reynard-built R/T 2000 chassis with 150hp, 2.0-liter Dodge four-cylinder engines and sequential gearboxes on Michelin slicks.

The VIR weekend will be the second stop on the series' seven-event 2003 schedule, which opened at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway in March with a win by Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nev. The race weekend will feature two races as well as practice and qualifying sessions.

The series boasts an illustrious list of graduates. Last year's champion, Grant Maimen, will compete this season in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull American Formula One Driver Search. Ryan Hunter-Reay is currently driving for Stefan Johansson's CART team. Other graduates include 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger, who won his first Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Long Beach two weeks ago, 2002 FF2000 Champion Bryan Sellers and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser (son of Al Unser Jr.), 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 a 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 stature of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER 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 year's championship.

Also scheduled this weekend are the first 2003 events for the Eastern and Midwestern Championships of the Skip Barber Racing Series. Those who excel in the regional championships this year will be invited to compete in the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER in 2004. Practice and qualifying will take place on Friday, with racing scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

"We are thrilled to welcome the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER this weekend," said VIR co-owner Connie Nyholm. "The Skip Barber organization has been a valuable partner for VIR, and we look forward to seeing the stars of tomorrow hone their skills on our challenging circuit. We hope the fans will bring their friends and family and come out to enjoy the spectacular spring weather at what we think is America's most beautiful racing facility."

Three-day Super Tickets for the Skip Barber event priced at $25, and one-day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday at $10, will be available at the gate. VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River 12 miles east of Danville, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (which is designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club, and the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park. The newest addition to the facility is the VIR Euro Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, which features four rally stages plus a kart track, motocross track, ATV and SUV training grounds and a Tuff Terrain"course. Future plans include the VIR Gallery, a showroom for high-end collector and racing cars, and resort lodging.

VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The renovated original circuit has 17 challenging turns and 130 feet of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days.

For more information, contact VIR at 888-RACE099 or visit the track's website at www.virclub.com.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Al Unser Jr. , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Leonardo Maia , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Bryan Sellers , Matt Jaskol , Al Unser