Dana LaLiberte Mtrsprts PR

LaLiberte Set to Take on SCCAs Top Drivers at Road America Ann Arbor -- Dana LaLiberte Motorsports returns to action this weekend at the 42nd running of the SCCA June Sprints at Road America. Using the team's Van Diemen Formula Ford 2000...

LaLiberte Set to Take on SCCAs Top Drivers at Road America

Ann Arbor -- Dana LaLiberte Motorsports returns to action this weekend at the 42nd running of the SCCA June Sprints at Road America. Using the team's Van Diemen Formula Ford 2000 racing car, driver Dana LaLiberte hopes to beat the top SCCA drivers in what is one of the world's largest races, annually drawing 400-500 cars over three days.

"I'm certainly looking forward to turning our year around with a win at the June Sprints," comments LaLiberte. "It is nothing that I can guarantee, as we are, after all, facing heavy competition, but I think that if we can stay focused and give our best performance possible, we can have a very good finish."

LaLiberte, who grew up in Kalamazoo, got his start racing karts in the midwest, and competed in the 1993 Elf Winfield Pilote Elf Competition in France, where he was the fastest among the 30 North American drivers competing. Returning to the US, LaLiberte raced two years in Formula Fords, and moved up last year to Formula Ford 2000 racing cars...modern, high speed formula cars. Recent graduates from the Formula 2000 ranks have moved on to Indy Lights, the Toyota Atlantic championship, and Indy cars, and include recent CART winner Greg Moore.

LaLiberte's 1997 season took a negative turn in January at the Walt Disney World Speedway, in Orlando, FL. Competiting in a qualifying race for the US Formula Ford 2000 National Championship, LaLiberte crashed, causing extensive damage to the team's only car. The team did not see action again until May.

"My Disney crash was definitely a tough blow to our program, but we survived," comments LaLiberte. "The car has worked well since then, and I think that rebuilding everything taught us more about the car than we had previously known. I think that we have regrouped as a stronger, more intelligent racing team."

The road back to competitiveness was difficult for the team, partially due to the team's lack of resources. Dana LaLiberte Motorsports continues to be one of the only teams in Formula 2000 to own its car, as well as handle all of the administration, preparation, and driving duties. Most teams either rent their cars to paying drivers, or are backed by large corporations, enabling the teams to hire out engineers and mechanics to take care of everything.

Dana LaLiberte Motorsports continues to persevere, however, even if they are up against the larger teams in the process. But if their performance at Mid-Ohio earlier this year proves anything, it is that they will not give up.

"We qualified quite badly in the rain...19th of 37 cars," recalls LaLiberte. "Changing conditions for the race, though, caught out many of the other guys. It looked like it was going to dry up, even though the track remained very wet and slippery. Within laps we found ourselves in 8th place, but engine trouble later in the race dropped up to a 16th place finish. The important thing for us was that we finished, though, and hopefully this will begin the turn-around for this season that we have been looking for."

Qualifying for the 1997 June Sprints takes place Friday and Saturday, with the race being held Sunday around the 4 mile road course in Elkhart Lake, WI.

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Dana LaLiberte                                                 jmfangio@umich.edu
Dana LaLiberte Motorsports           http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jmfangio
Ann Arbor, Michigan                                       Kalamazoo, Michigan
Car #98                                         US FF2000 National Championship

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Series SCCA
Drivers Greg Moore