INDIANAPOLIS – While all four Mazda Road to Indy divisions are racing in Baltimore on Labor Day weekend, a large group of young drivers will be zooming around the streets of Rock Island, Ill., for the chance to one day join them.
As part of IndyCar’s partnership with Skip Barber Racing School, a winner from the Rock Island Grand Prix will be selected to participate in the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout on Oct. 15-18 for a chance to begin their journey up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system.
The Rock Island Grand Prix is known as one of the largest and most prestigious street karting races, bringing drivers from all over the world for a holiday weekend filled with street festivals and great competition.
This year, a winner will be selected by a panel of judges to compete in the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout at Virginia Int’l Raceway, where if they win, they will receive a fully-funded ride in the Skip Barber Winter or Summer Series presented by Mazda.
“For those with a dream, karting and events like the Rock Island Grand Prix, provide a great first step for those pursuing a career in racing by progressing through the Mazda Road to Indy ladder,” said Rock Island Grand Prix President Roger Ruthhart. “Through our partnership with the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Skip Barber Racing School organization, we are honored to be able to present this valuable career and scholarship opportunity to a deserving kart racer.”
Before attending the shootout, the winner will first be required to attend a Formula three-day racing program at a Skip Barber Racing School on Sept. 24, which will also be funded by Skip Barber Racing School.
Should they win the shootout and move into the Skip Barber Summer or Winter Series presented by Mazda, they will be eligible for the IndyCar scholarship awarded to the champion of the Skip Barber Championship Shootout which offers a funded ride in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the first step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.
“IndyCar is very excited to partner with the Rock Island Grand Prix for the second year, and also continue progressing in our new partnership with Skip Barber Racing School,” said Jason Penix, director of grassroots initiatives for INDYCAR. “We are focused on bringing in the best talent to the Mazda Road to Indy, and it’s evident when looking at the current IZOD IndyCar Series field that these organizations are producing a lot of that talent.”
Former Skip Barber Karting Shootout winners include current IZOD IndyCar Series championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the event in 1997 and the Skip Barber Racing School championship in 1999.
“The IZOD IndyCar Series is a very strong supporter of grassroots motorsports and they realize that karting is one of the most traveled routes to the Mazda Road to Indy and to professional racing,” said Michael Culver, CEO Skip Barber Racing School. “The Rock Island Grand Prix is an essential element of the motorsports fabric. Skip Barber Racing School is proud to support the Rock Island Grand Prix.”