2008 Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out: Conner De Phillippi Wins Biggest Prize
Monday, February 04, 2008
SEBRING, Fla. – Scholarship sponsorship worth approximately $130,000 was awarded to five young karters at the 11th annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out following three days of on- and off-track assessment at Sebring International Raceway driving the Skip Barber Formula 2000 open-wheelers. Winning the biggest prize – a fully paid 14-race season in the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda – was Conner De Phillippi, 15, of San Clemente, Calif. De Phillippi bested 50 of some of karting’s best drivers looking to jumpstart their careers using the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder system. De Phillippi’s paid ride in the 2008 Skip Barber National comes courtesy of Mazda and MAZDASPEED.
De Phillippi’s award is worth approximately $45,000 – seven double-race National weekends and their associated practice, qualifying and warm-up sessions. The Skip Barber National is the leading pro development series, an early step on the Mazda-driven motorsports ladder system that includes the Star Mazda Series and Champ Car Atlantic Powered by Mazda. The Skip Barber National champion wins one of the largest title bonuses in entry level pro racing: a paid ride in the following year’s Star Mazda series, worth on the order of $350,000.
In addition to Di Phillippi, another Shoot-out entrant won a full season of competition in the Skip Barber Regional Race Series (choice of East, West, South or Midwest): Brett Smrz, 16, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, earned the prize that’s worth approximately $30,000.
Winning another significant prize, a paid half-season of Skip Barber National worth roughly $22,000, was 20-year-old Fabio Orsolon of Cabo Frio, Brazil.
Three more karters each won $10,000 scholarships to race with Skip Barber: Michael Denino, 18, of Gaithersburg, Md.; Maverick Bartlett, 17, from Jackson, Wyo.; and Court Vernon, 15, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Shoot-out winners (from left) Maverick Bartlett, Fabio Orsolon, Conner De Phillippi, Brett Smrz, Michael Denino and Court Vernon join John Doonan, Manager of Motorsports Team Development for Mazda North America, on Sebring’s winner’s rosterum
De Phillippi said, “I’m shocked, I’m so happy. I’ve been trying so hard, working hard, and it paid off! I think I proved today that I’m ready for the National. I want to run top five, maybe win a race,” he said. “Coming in, I thought I had a realistic chance to win something. But the big prize? Wow… My mom, she was crying she was so happy. This proves to me, never give up.”
MAZDASPEED’s John Doonan, a member of the judging panel, said, “No two companies in the world care more about driver development than Mazda and Skip Barber Racing. It was my distinct pleasure to award Conner his season in the 2008 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, the first pro rung on the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder system.”
De Phillippi and the five others now join a list of past Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out awardees including A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed, 2006 Skip Barber National champion Jonathan Goring, and the reigning National titlist, Joel Miller.