NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa., Oct. 28 - As part of its association with BeaveRun Motorsports Complex, Andersen Walko Racing conducted a two-day test at the track last week of two drivers who regularly compete in BeaveRun's karting series.
The pair, 28-year-old Brian McHattie of Poland, Ohio and 18-year-old Jennifer Williams of West Middlesex, Pa., drove one of Andersen Walko Racing's Formula SCCA cars.
Team co-owner John Walko said both completed 100 miles and both did very well. Although both are accomplished karters, it was the first time either had driven a formula race car.
It was also the first time the pair worked with engineers and had the advantage of information generated from a data acquisition system. AWR uses the Pi system exclusively.
"It was awesome," said Williams, a senior at West Middlesex Senior High School who raced karts on a dirt oval for eight years before switching to BeaveRun's asphalt track last year. "The handling was a lot better than my kart and it was a lot faster. It was easier to drive and to just go for it!"
When asked what was the biggest thing she learned, she said it was how to take advice from Walko and the other engineers. "I tried to do exactly what he told me to do to go faster, and it worked!" she said.
Williams added that she'd love to advance to car racing with AWR. "My dad raced go-karts when he was younger, and my mom used to race powder puff cars," she added.
McHattie, a sign maker by trade with Sign Pro in Borden, Ohio, has been racing go-karts since BeaveRun started its program a few years ago.
"Running the formula car was wonderful; the whole experience was great," McHattie said. "To be able to drive something with that much power and handling capacity was phenomenal."
McHattie said the biggest thing he noticed between the two different classes was the high level of concentration that the formula car demands. "You have to be more aware of what's around you, and not be complacent," he said.
McHattie said that he'd love to pursue car racing in the future, but a lack of finances holds him back. "I would give anything to be able to drive one of these things for even one race," he said of the FSCCA machine. "It would be phenomenal."
Walko said both drivers did a terrific job. "The track and our team try to pick the winners of the test objectively, and we try to choose people who have the potential to move up into cars if they can find the funding," he said. "It's a way to help the track's karting series, which is excellent. I think both Brian and Jennifer learned a lot about working with engineers and with a data acquisition system. They were able to experience what it's like to come in, make some changes to the car, and then go back out and feel those changes."
BeaveRun is primarily used as a motorsport training facility as well as a testing center for race cars, street cars, automotive components, karts, motorcycles and people's driving skills. The 384-acre facility features one of America's top asphalt sprint tracks, and it is considered to be one of the country's top-three karting centers. The facility was designed by Alan Wilson, an international motorsports designer and experienced racer.
The complex is less than three miles north of the Beaver Valley exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, only 40 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and less than 30 minutes from Pittsburgh International Airport.
It is also very close to AWR's shop in North Versailles, Pa. The team's administrative office is in Fairfield, N.J.
For more information on BeaveRun, please see www.beaveRun. com. For more information on Andersen Walko Racing, which will field multiple cars in Star Mazda and SCCA national and club events next year, please see www.andersenwalko.com
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Oct. 8 - Dan Andersen and John Walko of Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) announced today that they will devote all of their pro race team's efforts on the Star Mazda series presented by Goodyear in 2005.
The team will also continue to operate its SCCA Club Racing program.
"We'll be leaving the Cooper Tire championships, both the Formula Ford 2000 and the Formula SCCA classes, in order to devote our efforts to Star Mazda next year," explained Andersen, who owns the team with Walko.
"After running three cars in Formula Ford 2000, three cars in Formula SCCA and three cars in SCCA Club Racing this year, we added two Star Mazda cars and joined that championship in June," he added. "We are extremely impressed with the Star Mazda series' organization, administration and full fields of quality drivers. When you add all of that to the series' large prize fund, SPEED TV package, great IMSA/ALMS schedule and a truly great new race car, we realized that Star Mazda is the place for us next year."
AWR won the 2004 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec team championship with seven victories and 15 podium finishes. Its two lead drivers, Andrew Prendeville and Adam Pecorari, finished second and third, respectively, in the drivers' point standings in that series. Walko won its Crew Chief of the Year award, while AWR's Seb Jublien earned the series' Mechanic of the Year award for 2004.
Top rookie driver Jonathan Klein has been representing the team in Star Mazda this year and will compete in the series' season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 16. Another top AWR rookie, Robbie Pecorari (Adam's brother), will also drive an AWR entry in that race.
Always a championship contender, AWR will begin testing in November for the new Star Mazda season.
"We've already arranged test dates at Sebring, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Pikes Peak, Road America, Beaverun and Carolina Motorsports Park," Andersen said. "We will not only be testing our cars but we'll also be testing drivers for the upcoming Star Mazda season, and we hope to announce our pro driver line-up soon."
"The Star Mazda series is extremely competitive, and we're looking forward to focusing our efforts on it next year," added Walko. "We're also excited about our plan to move our shop to a more modern facility nearer to our home track, Beaverun, which is near Pittsburgh."
Andersen Walko Racing's offices are in Fairfield, N.J. and its race shop is currently in North Versailles, Pa.
PHOENIX, Oct. 6 2004 - Seventeen-year-old rookie Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill. took the checkered flag in third place in the Star Mazda race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. Unfortunately his Andersen Walko Racing entry did not pass the post-race technical inspection and was disqualified.
The problem was a simple human error. Team members mistakenly didn't install the designated oval-track sway bar required for this event, run on the only oval the series visits in 2004. Instead the usual road-course sway bar was inadvertently still in the car. Although the sway bar that was used actually made the car slower on an oval, it was not the correct one to be used here and the series officials disqualified the effort.
"It was a simple human error; we made a mistake," said team co-owner Dan Andersen. "Although it didn't give Jonathan a performance advantage, it was not the correct sway bar. The series officials followed the rules; we don't fault them for having to enforce them."
"We all feel badly that Jonathan did not get the podium finish which he deserved at PIR, but this is a team sport and we'll stand together as a team," he added. "We're proud of the run than Jonathan gave our entry and we're proud that we prepared a car that was definitely a contender in this race. Now we'll look ahead to the season finale at Laguna and try our best to get on the podium there."
Klein has to have added confidence going into the season finale due to how well he ran at Phoenix. Although it was his first oval track race ever, he handled both the traffic and a slipping clutch with the expertise of a seasoned veteran.
"Right at the start of the event my clutch started slipping, so when I stepped on the throttle I had no drive from the rear wheels," Klein explained. "Restarts were difficult and I lost a position to [Daniel] DiLeo on the second restart, but the car worked well and I was able to negotiate traffic and work my way back around him."
Michael McDowell led every lap of the 75-lap race, which was presented by Goodyear.
Klein's entry is sponsored by Kalfact Plastics; Fettes, Love and Sieben; Nexus Distribution Corp.; Midwest Steel & Services; Ironclad and ProStar.
Klein qualified sixth with a lap in 26.365 seconds for an average speed of 136.545. He was second in the warm-up session Saturday morning with a 26.313 (136.815 mph), second only to McDowell.
The season finale will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 16.
"With running second at Road Atlanta prior to a tire failure and running third at Phoenix before the problem in tech, we know we'll be strong at Laguna Seca and even more so for the entire 2005 season," Klein said. "Even with the wrong sway bar and the handling being worse than everyone else's, Eric [Langbein] and John [team co-owner John Walko] set the car up well enough to finish third. On to Laguna!"
The recent Road Atlanta race will be televised on SPEED at noon Eastern time on Oct. 10.
Saturday's race from Phoenix will be broadcast on SPEED on Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. Eastern time
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