Skip Barber’s First Sports Car Series Debuts This Weekend

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

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MONTEREY, Calif. – The first-ever races of the inaugural Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge championship are this weekend, April 4-6, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This new series, announced late last year, is conducted in the same manner as the long-running (since 1976) open-wheel Skip Barber Race Series: Providing a fleet of identically prepared race cars made available to drivers for a set race-weekend fee.

But rather than using the traditional Formula Skip Barber single-seaters, drivers in the MAZDASPEED Challenge compete in MX-5 Miata race cars that are race-prepped in the same manner as those used in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Series.

‘‘The Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge is an important new rung on the Mazda-driven motorsports ladder,’’ said Skip Barber President George Ayres. ‘‘Drivers can now move from our Three Day Racing School (open-wheel or MX-5 Miata) to the new MAZDASPEED Challenge and from there into the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, Grand-Am, ALMS, SCCA and other sedan and sports car championships.’’

The Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge season champion is eligible to be invited to the annual Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, the winner of which is awarded a paid season in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Series.

This inaugural 2008 MAZDASPEED Challenge series is a five-weekend, 10-race championship. The openers are April 4-6, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with rounds three and four at Virginia International Raceway, May 2-4. Rounds five and six are back at Laguna June 6-8, followed by rounds seven and eight, July 10-12 (Thurs. – Sat.), at Road Atlanta. The season finale is at Road America, September 26-28.

The initial MAZDASPEED Challenge race groups are capped at 17 competitors. As the series grows, entry capacities will be increased. Making a bit of Skip Barber history are the following entrants for the inaugural event:

Fred Chin, 48, Malibu, Calif.
Al Delattre, 42, Wilton, Conn.
Ken Greenberg, 56, Hollywood, Fla.
Gray Gregory, 45, Houston
Aaron Hollander, 51, Weston, Conn.
Scott James, 36, Plymouth, Mass.
Lyonel Kent, 33, Powell, Tenn.
Pax Lemmon, 54, Crown Point, N.Y.
Mike Monticello, 39, Newport Beach, Calif.
Philip Royle, 31, Irvine, Calif.
Mike Skeen, 21, Durham, N.C.
Dale Sprading, 55, The Woodlands, Texas
Tim Suddard, 48, Ormand Beach, Fla.
John Tukivakata, 22, Little Rock, Ark.
Dion von Moltke, 17, South Africa
Ian Ziering (TV celebrity), 44, Los Angeles

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Rick Roso (photos by Ben English)

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