TRAFFORD, PA (April 20, 2006) – To be successful in the STAR Mazda Series, and contend for the Championship, requires much more than participating in twelve races. John Walko Racing is keenly aware of the challenge at hand and as such continues to strive for every advantage.
All three cars and drivers participated in a three day test at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex, including the latest addition to the team, Canadian rising star Kevin Lacroix. Lacroix joined JWR drivers Charles Anti and Ross Smith on the 1.8 mile road course that is essentially the “home field” for John Walko Racing.
Plano, Texas driver Smith set the pace early, eclipsing the quickest time’s ever run at BeaveRun in a STAR Mazda machine. This was particularly impressive considering the drivers who have tested at this facility under the guidance of John Walko as the engineer for Andersen-Walko Racing including 2005 Series Winners Graham Rahal, Robbie Pecorari and Pablo Donoso along with Indy Pro Series driver Jonathan Klein.
“Today we beat the track record so we are ecstatic obviously.” Ross noted though that these tests involve much more that just a search for fast time, “Eric, Scott and I are working on chemistry still but really the setups for this track and Mid Ohio are very similar so it is important in that aspect as well.”
Anti, who got his start in racing driving karts just a few hundred yards away at BeaveRun’s Wilson Circuit, was striving to work through his rookie learning curve at this test.
“Right now we are working mostly on track time as a team but something I am working on myself is improving the mental aspect of getting up to speed. Usually it takes a few laps to do so and I want to minimize that.”
John Walko concurred with Ross Smith regarding the application of testing at BeaveRun, “We find this is a really good test track for Mid Ohio which is just two races away. Sometimes we'll even stop here on the way to Mid Ohio as a shakedown.”
Walko also utilized the time to promote the team’s interest in the local karting program at BeaveRun by providing track time to select up and coming racers.
“I'm always glad to help promote the karting program here at BeaveRun. As we are seeing with Charles signed on this year in our program, there is the potential to work with more local drivers to help develop the talent in this area.” Walko continued, “With a start at a world class facility like BeaveRun, young racers can see there is a ladder that can be climbed in their racing careers.”
Two previous Champions in the BeaveRun Karting Series enjoyed this incredible opportunity including Sam Hanley, the 2004 ICA Champion and Stephen Sokol who dominated the 2005 TaG class.
Sam commented, “I can't imagine this going any better. Working with John's team has been excellent. I have only been in a full size race car one other time and that was whole different world than this car and this team.”
“I have to thank John for the opportunity. I really like this group of people and I'm thrilled to be part of this experience,” exclaimed a smiling Sokol.
Next on the schedule for drivers Charles Anti, Ross Smith and Kevin Lacroix is testing at Mid Ohio followed by the second race of the season, the Grand Prix of Houston.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRAFFORD, PA (April 19, 2006) – John Walko Racing has added highly touted Kevin Lacroix to their stable of drivers. The young Canadian driver will make his debut at the Grand Prix of Houston, the second race on the STAR Mazda Championship Series schedule.
Lacroix joins JWR fresh off of a successful Rookie season in the Formula BMW Series where he finished second in the Championship standings. Four race wins at venues such as Laguna Seca, Montreal, Mid Ohio and Barber Motorsports Park along with two additional podium finishes at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway kept Kevin in the title hunt until the closing laps of the final race of the season.
Prior to his sensational entry in to formula car racing, Lacroix was a karting star winning several Quebec Championships as well as rounds in the Stars of Karting and the WKA Manufacturers Cup. A strong showing at the BMW School in Valencia, Spain in 2004 earned him a scholarship for the following season’s successful outing in the Formula BMW USA Series.
According to team owner John Walko, the deal to add the Quebec native came together quickly after Casey Neal’s one race stint in a JWR machine at Sebring came to an end. Mutual friends in the racing business helped put the parties together as Walko noted, “Kevin comes to us highly recommended, and we were highly recommended to him, by our friends at AIM Autosport and team manager Ian Willis. Kevin placed second in the Formula BMW Championship with AIM and when Kevin expressed interest in the STAR Mazda Series, Ian told him we were the ones to call.”
The new partnership wasted no time hitting the track as Lacroix joined JWR for a test at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex. The young driver was thrilled to take the next step in the open wheel racing ladder.
“It is a good car, a lot more power and more grip also compared to anything else I have driven. It is very fast and very good too drive. It took a while to learn it but everything is going well now.”
Walko was pleased with his new driver’s debut, “I couldn't be more impressed with his performance, he ran nearly 500 miles here in the last two days and only had the car off track three times which is quite good.
JWR will provide Kevin with every chance at success according to Walko as well. ”We will partner Kevin with Caleb Streem as the lead mechanic, who was the STAR Mazda Crew Member of the Year in 2005 as Robbie Pecorari's mechanic.”
The team will take their three car effort to Mid Ohio next for a round of testing followed by the second race of the season, the Grand Prix of Houston. Drivers Charles Anti and Ross Smith will be Kevin Lacroix’s teammates with JWR.
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