Sebring: Round one preview

Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Round 1 at the 56th 12 Hours of Sebring The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear gets underway this coming weekend as part of the famous 56th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring race. This...

Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear
Round 1 at the 56th 12 Hours of Sebring

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear gets underway this coming weekend as part of the famous 56th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring race. This will be the 18th season for one of the most popular ladder series in auto racing. Here is a profile of the series and what can be expected in 2008.

When the cars competing in the Star Mazda Championship take to the track for the opening race at the 56th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, the drivers will represent a diversity of combination: racers from six countries comprising two female, drivers ranging from 16 to 64, a father/son and a brother/sister teams.

Young Hotshoes

Alex Ardoin. The Louisiana native has a flamboyant driving style and finished 6th in 2007 with one win (Laguna Seca), two podiums and four top-10 finishes. He is a title contender.

Peter Dempsey. This Irish racer won 33 out of 43 races in the British Formula Ford series in Great Britain and Europe's prestigious Leinster Trophy in 2007, along with the BRDC Golden Helmet, Martin Donnelly Trophy and the Walter Hayes Trophy.

Eric Freiberg. This karting champion made the switch to open-wheel racing in 2005, ran the SCCA Formula Mazda series in 2006 and finished 11th in the 2007 Star Mazda Championship with five top-10 finishes.

Tom Gladdis, The youngest driver in the series at 16, this British racer was born on the Isle of Wight and lives on the island of Gibraltar. He finished 6th in his rookie year in the extremely competitive Formula BMW UK series.

Taylor Hacquard. This Canadian who hails out of Vancouver, B.C. is the 17 year-old son of a Mazda dealer, a karting standout who did a full season of testing before debuting this year in the Star Mazda Championship.

Nick Haye. Returning for a second full season, he scored two podium finishes, four top-5s and finished 4th in the 2007 championship, making him a top contender for this year's championship. He must have a special pedal setup after he was born with deformed feet and, though they have been surgically corrected.

Yannick Hofman. This 19 year-old French-Canadian ran two events in 2007, surprising everyone with a 5th place finish in Trois-Rivières. He won the Skip Barber Race Series Championship in 2005 and finished 7th in the 2007 Formula BMW series.

Scott Rettich. This college business management major is also a national karting champion and Formula Mazda champion who scored six top-10 finishes in the 2007 Star Mazda Championship.

Caio Lara and Carlos Henrique (Rick) Rosin. Here is a pair of fast young Brazilians making their U.S. racing debut in the Star Mazda. Lara is a karting champion who scored ten podium finishes in a row in the Brazilian Formula Ford series. Rosin started karting at age 9, won many championships and graduated to Brazilian Formula Renault championship in 2005- 2006.

Juliana Gonzalez Bermudez. The 16 year-old student/racing car driver was born in Columbia and lives in Mexico City. She started racing karts in 2002, won several Mexican national championships before switching to open-wheel cars in 2005.

Kristy Kester. The 19 year-old sophomore Biomedical Science major at Texas A&M raced six years of karting and the Formula Enterprise series. She will have her brother as a teammate J.C. Kester, (two IKF regional and two IKF national road racing championships) majoring in engineering at Texas A&M.

Every Star Mazda Championship race field includes drivers racing in the open series (which includes every driver 16 and up) as well as Expert (30 to 44 years old) and Master (45 years and older) series. Beginning with the first race of the 2008 season at Sebring on March 14, the Expert and Master Series winners will join the top-3 open series finishers on the podium

Standing Starts and Radial Tires for 2008

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, one of the top open-wheel racing and driver development series in North America, will implement standing starts for all 12 races in the 2008 season.

"We are making this change to keep our series in line with other top open-wheel racing series," says Star Mazda Championship President Gary Rodrigues,"in keeping with our mission to provide the best possible training for young drivers on their way up the open-wheel racing ladder."

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will be utilizing a new Goodyear radial racing tire in 2008. This change, like the implementation of standing starts, is designed to bring Star Mazda in line with other series in the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder and to produce a more relevant educational experience for young drivers climbing that ladder.

Testing of tire compounds and construction is completed and are available to Star Mazda Championship teams. The Star Mazda Championship open-wheel race car is a single-spec, high-tech machine with a carbon-fiber chassis, push-rod suspension, Goodyear radial racing tires and a 6-speed sequential gearbox mated to a race-prepared Mazda Renesis rotary engine that produces 240 horsepower, top speeds of over 150 mph and 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 2.8 seconds. The entire package is designed for strength, speed, easy maintenance, and reliability.

2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear - Series Overview

Entering its 18th year, the Star Mazda Championship has grown into one of the most prolific, successful and richest driver development series in all of auto racing. This year's prize fund approaches $1.5 million and includes a full-season sponsorship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder for the Star Mazda series champion to move up and race in the Atlantic Championship. 2007 Star Mazda champion Dane Cameron will race in the Atlantic Championship in 2008 and replacing him is hot young graduate Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber National Series champion.

The Star Mazda Championship is an extremely cost-effective series. Race cars turn laps within 2-3 seconds of an Atlantic car-- for considerably less than half the budget. For young European drivers exploring their options, Star Mazda race cars are comparable to Formula 3 and Palmer Audi, at a substantially lower cost and with the added benefits of substantial prize money and national television exposure.

Star Mazda Championship races are held on major motorsports weekends, racing in front of the crowds drawn by American Le Mans and the Grand-Am Rolex series. This diversity allows young drivers to develop their skills on a variety of tracks, including natural terrain road courses as well as street and airport circuits. All races are broadcast in a 1-hour show on the SPEED Channel and re-broadcast overseas on networks like SkySports in the UK. Total prizes, with money paid down through 15th-place in the championship, approaches $1.5 million.

-credit: starmazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Skip Barber , Martin Donnelly , Yannick Hofman , Dane Cameron , Eric Freiberg , Nick Haye , Scott Rettich , Alex Ardoin , Tom Gladdis , Taylor Hacquard , Caio Lara , Joel Miller , Peter Dempsey , Kristy Kester