Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Junior Formula 101- Skip Barber National

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted December 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm Junior Formula 101, Skip Barber

The Skip Barber National Championship wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts and creativity of John Barber III (Skip). Skip graduated from Harvard University with a degree in English, but his true passion was racing. He began his racing career during his Ivy years at the age of 22, driving in the Sports Car Club of America(SCCA). During his time with the SCCA, he won three consecutive National Championships. His next big accomplishment came in 1969 and 1970, where he won two consecutive Formula Ford Championships. The following year he became one of the few Americans to make a start in a Formula One race. Between 1971-1972, John Barber entered in 6 Formula One races driving for Gene Mason. After delving into the world of racing, he felt that racing, like most sports, is a very coachable activity. With this new thought process, he created the Skip Barber School of High Performance Driving in 1975. In 1976, he created the Skip Barber Racing Series and renamed the school; the Skip Barber Racing School.

The Skip Barber National series wasn’t created until 1999, it was designed as a cost effective stepping stone for the Barber Dodge Pro Series. The series, originally named the Formula Dodge National Championship, was created as a one-off championship race for the Regional Series victors. During this time period, the National series followed in the footsteps of the “then” premier Barber Pro Series. The Barber Saab Pro Series originally utilized a 16v turbocharged Saab engine placed on a Mondiale chassis. In the late 90’s, the Mondiale chassis was replaced with a Reynard chassis powered by a V6 Dodge engine. With the new engine/chassis package in place, the series name was changed to the Barber Dodge Pro Series. The series was tightly aligned with the Champ Car World Series. After the bankruptcy of Champ Car in 2003, the Skip Barber organization announced the retirement of the Pro Series, elevating the Formula Dodge National Championship to the premier series run under the Skip Barber banner. In late 2006, Skip Barber decided to join Mazda in an effort to create a ladder system for junior formula drivers, once again changing the name of the series to the Skip Barber National presented by Mazda. As part of the current ladder, in place by the MazdaSPEED Development team, the champion of the series is awarded a funded ride in the Star Mazda series. The cost of a season in the Formula Dodge National Championship is advertised at $45,000 USD, but actual cost is most likely much higher when crash damage/repair is taken into account (should you be so unlucky).

The current Skip Barber National cars are referred to as a Skip Barber Formula 2000. The cars are set-up on a mild steel space-frame chassis, powered by a modified SOHC 2.0-liter 4 cylinder Mazda engine utilizing a 5-speed sequential gearbox. The car itself weighs in at 1,250 lbs (wet) and produces roughly a 150hp. The car can reach speeds near 135mph and is capable of pulling around 1.5 G’s. It doesn’t offer much down force, but does utilize a front and rear wing. The cars are maintained and transported by Skip Barber Racing, utilizing BF Goodrich g-Force racing slicks and wet tires. It’s hard to consider these cars true race cars, but they are fun to drive and are perfect for teaching drivers the basic skills required for success at the next level. The Formula 2000 car offers a perfect transition for drivers looking to make the move from karts to cars.

Past Skip Barber National Champions:
1999-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Champ Car, A1GP, Grand-Am, IndyCar)
2000-Anthony Simone (NASCAR Canadian Tire)
2001-Julio Campos (Stock Car Brazil)
2002-Grant Maiman (Raced Formula Renault)
2003-Raphael Matos (IndyCar)
2004-Marco Andretti (IndyCar)
2005-Gerardo Bonilla (American LeMans Series LMP2)
2006-Jonathan Goring (IMSA Lites)
2007-Joel Miller (Star Mazda)
2008-Conor Daly (Star Mazda)

Fun Facts:
Most Wins in a Season: 6 (Grant Maiman, Anthony Simone)
Most Poles in a Season: 8 (Gerardo Bonilla)
Most Career Wins: 8 (Gerardo Bonilla)

For Further Junior Formula 101 Reading~ Click Here.
For More Information on Skip Barber Racing: Click Here.

(photo: http://www.skipbarber.com)

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