Six Win Sponsorship at Karting Scholarship Shoot-out
Sunday, January 15, 2006 SEBRING, Fla. – Over the course of three days, using 30 race cars during 21 separate on-track sessions, 59 karters-turned-racecar drivers all had a chance to earn a piece of the $115,000 in Skip Barber sponsorship up for grabs at the ninth annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out at Sebring International Raceway. When the judges left the race control tower Sunday afternoon, they announced the names of the six competitors that had made the biggest impression. Drivers whose speed, judgment and personal presentation deemed them most likely to succeed as they begin climbing the motorsports ladder.
The biggest prize – a fully paid season in the 2006 Skip Barber National presented by RACER – was earned by one of the youngest drivers, 14-year-old Alexander Rossi of Nevada City, Calif. The next biggest award went to Ricky Taylor, 16, one of the sons of 2005 Rolex Sports Car champion Wayne Taylor. Taylor won a fully paid seat in one of the four Skip Barber Regional Race Series championships. Those two awards are worth a combined $65,000.
Winning $15,000 in sponsorship each were Marco Di Leo, 19, of Markham, Ont., Canada, and Jonathan Goring, 16, from Norfolk, Conn. Di Leo is the younger brother of Barber Dodge/Star Mazda/Formula Atlantic stand-out Dan Di Leo.
Also making the final cut and earning $10,000 each in sponsorship were Joel Miller, 17, from Hesperia, Calif., and Alex Ardoin, 16, of Sunset, La.
The 2006 Skip Barber National opens its 14-race 2006 season March 11-12 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, supporting the inaugural U.S. A1GP event.
SPECIAL NOTE: The past two champions of the Skip Barber National were both on the grounds: 2004 champion Marco Andretti was on the Sebring ‘‘test’’ circuit taking his first-ever laps in the ArcaEx Dallara-Honda today, beginning his prep for his IRL campaign, while on Sebring’s ‘‘modified’’ circuit (where the Karting Shoot-out was being held), 2005 champion Gerardo Bonilla, who’ll drive for Anderson Walko Racing in the 2006 Star Mazda Championship, was one of the Shoot-out judges.
FROM THIS… All 59 karters gather on Sebring’s historic front straight. The drivers were assigned to one of four race groups. Each driver had five different sessions in which to show their speed and consistency.
TO THIS… The drivers who made the next-to-last cut Sunday late morning, following their fifth and final session. From the left: Marco Di Leo, Andrew Carbonell, Chris Keller, Tyler Dueck, Jonathan Goring, Alexander Rossi, Tad Funakoshi, Ricky Taylor, Alex Ardoin, Joel Miller and Justin Larson. These 11 were then sent out for one last ‘‘qualifying’’ session in order for the judges to make one last assessment.
Words and photos, Rick Roso