The Final Day of the Skip Barber Racing Academy
Left to Right: Bryan Saxe, Matt Widner, Nicolas Bakker
California Native Matt Widner Claims Skip Barber Racing Academy Championship in Third Attempt at Title
Braselton, Ga. (January 14, 2016)—The Skip Barber Racing Academy had a climactic finish on the final day of the shootout. This unique event, which has jump-started the careers of Michai Stephens and Chase Owen, has crowned a new champion, California native Matt Widner.
Widner won this year’s shootout in dramatic fashion. After 3 days, 5 sessions and various classroom activities, three competitors had identical scores at the end of the event. These drivers; Amin Rassaei, Bryan Saxe and Matt Widner would join the rest of the top 5 – Nicolas Bakker and Derek Ware, for an unprecedented run-off session where each driver would take to the track by themselves in an effort to post the best lap time and best lap average.
Even after the run-off, Widner and Nicolas Bakker would end the event with a tie, but Widner would take the win with 1 more point in the total points category and edge out Bakker for the championship.
“We knew that this year’s field was competitive and we had a plan going into day 3,” said Casey Carden, Director of Competition, “and we are excited about this year’s champion. Matt showcases what is imperative in the sport of racing – perseverance. This is his third year at working to get the win, and we couldn’t be more impressed at his growth as a driver and individual.”
Widner has participated in the academy each of the last three years in attempt to win the elusive title. In his first year, he came in 9th while competing against Michai Stephens, the ultimate champion. The following year, he would come in 5th. Chase Owen would take the win that year and would go on to be a runner-up in the following Skip Barber Summer Series. This year, his third, would be the charm as Widner comes out victorious in the most dramatic fashion. His determination, focus and drive were on full display. The Skip Barber Racing School team, and the motorsports community at large, can’t wait to see his development as a racer in the years to come.
As Widner recalled why he came back for the third time, he doesn’t flinch in his answer, “I’ve never been this passionate about anything in my life.”
He recalls the various mistakes from the previous two shootouts and how he made a pact with himself in this last attempt. “One more chance,” he said. “ I started working out, getting a lot fitter and doing what I needed to do before jumping back in the car.”
Widner’s hard work paid off. He did not make one mistake in any of his sessions and showcased that his perseverance, drive and vision could achieve. He wins a full season in the Skip Barber Championship Race Series.
As Widner claimed his prize, the glee and gratitude on his face was undeniable. “I honestly can’t thank Skip Barber Racing School enough for what they do. It’s the clearest path in professional motorsports and nobody offers something like Skip Barber. The quality of the instructors and everything, you can beat it.”
Top 5 Skip Barber Racing Academy Standings:
- Matt Widner – Torrance, CA
- Nicolas Bakker – Madrid, Spain
- Bryan Saxe – Oregon, WI
- Amin Rassaei – Tampa, FL
- Derek Ware – Pacific, MO
As another successful event ends, the applications for this year’s Academy has already started. Drivers attending a 3 Day Racing School in 2016 can begin submitting applications stating their interest in the Academy. They will need to complete an Advanced 2-Racing School as their final prerequisite.