Skip Barber National: Cleveland Preview
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Rounds five and six of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda are this weekend, supporting the Champ Car Cleveland Grand Prix. For those that follow American open-wheel road racing, the Grand Prix of Cleveland is uniquely interesting – it’s the one time this year that all three Mazda-driven racing series that make up the clearest motorsports ladder system in North America are racing at the same place on the same weekend. These are the development series that produce the racing stars of tomorrow.
The BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda is step one; the Star Mazda Championship is step two. Step three is the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. All three racing series are in Cleveland this weekend.
As an example of the efficacy of this ladder system, consider that 11 of the 30 drivers that have entered the 2007 Atlantic Championship are Skip Barber trained. In Star Mazda, eight of the top 11 in points come from the Skip Barber system.
Through the first four races of this year’s Skip Barber National, there have been four different winners: Timmy Megenbier, Ricky Taylor, Joel Miller and Josef Newgarden. The points leader is Miller (125), a scant 15 tallies up on Jeff Oleen, who has yet to win but has been on the podium twice. Taylor and Megenbier are both at 109 while Kyle Lawrence is at 100. The next 10 drivers are within 40 points of each other – not much when a win is worth 35.
In the Masters Division, Dick Lippert of Wichita, Kan., has a slim 8-point margin (181 to 173) over California’s Jeff Kaiser. Kaiser has finished on the podium in five of the first six races but has not yet won, while Lippert has two wins and two other podiums to his credit. Dom Bastien is also right in the hunt, with 153 points thanks to four top-five finishes.
One of the other Cleveland G.P. supporting events is the SCCA Pro Racing Sirius Satellite Radio MX-5 Cup. Did you know that the Skip Barber Racing School just added a new program to its list of available schools? It’s called the “Mazda MX-5 Cup Three Day Racing School.” Yes, Skip Barber uses the same cars that are raced in that pro series. That means Skip Barber has two Three-Day Racing Schools: the “original” Three-Day using the 2.0-liter Formula Skip Barber open-wheelers, or the new Three-Day using the Mazda MX-5 Cup car.
Three young sons of well-known professional drivers are entered into the Skip Barber National races at Cleveland. Eliott Bachalart, 15, is the son of Eric Bachelart – Champ Car team owner (Conquest Racing, driver Jan Heylen), Atlantic team owner (Matt Lee and Giacomo Ricci), former Indy Lights champion and Belgium touring car star. Cleveland is Bachalart’s first National start, coming out of the 2006-2007 Skip Barber Southern Regional Series. Conor Daly, 15, is also making his first National start. He’s the son of Derek Daly – F1, Champ Car, two-time Sebring 12-Hour winner, British F3 champion and color TV commentator since 1985. The third is the aforementioned Ricky Taylor, 17, son of Wayne Taylor, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car star (champion, 2005, with co-driver Max Angelelli).