JWR ALUM: SCCA National Champion Graham Rahal Takes Second Career Verizon IndyCar Win
Ohio-native Graham Rahal scored his second career race victory in the Verizon IndyCar series this past weekend at the MAVTV 500, at Auto Cub Speedway in Fontana California. Graham is the son of Bobby Rahal, an SCCA National Champion and Indy 500 winner, and currently drives for the team that bears his name.
Graham tasted Runoffs Gold in 2005 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, after a dominating performance behind the wheel of his Anderson Walko Racing Formula Atlantic. The then 16-year-old driver still holds the record as the youngest Runoffs National Champion in SCCA history.
In 2008, Graham scored his first win in the newly-merged Verizon IndyCar series at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Since that time Rahal has been a front-runner in the series, but was unable to finish in the top spot of the premier professional open-wheel series in the United States. The win pushes Graham to the fourth in the Championship.
On behalf of each of us at SCCA, membership and staff alike, we congratulate Graham Rahal on his win out in California. Keep up the good work!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRAFFORD, Pa -- John Walko Racing (JWR) has announced a driver development program for the 2009 season. The JWR driver development program will work with young race drivers to enhance their climb up the motorsports ladder as they move from karting and school based formula car race series.
By using JWR Racing's extensive experience in the motorsports' world, the program will develop driver's skills through proven methods that have been used by John Walko's race drivers. Utilizing the Star Mazda and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec cars, JWR will custom develop testing programs to an individual drivers needs.
Working within the JWR program drivers will begin to develop advanced skills beyond the world of school series and karting. Drivers will work with different chassis setup parameters including shock settings, spring rates, aerodynamics and general chassis dynamics.
By working with experienced race engineers JWR drivers will start developing the necessary communication skills between engineer and driver to improve and adapt a racecars setup to match their needs. Being able to utilize the Star Mazda and the FF2000 car will allow for a two tier approach to testing and racing. As the JWR drivers grow and develop in the FF2000 car they can immediately advance to the higher powered Star Mazda racecar within the same team.
Along with advancing a drivers technical understanding of motorsports, JWR will work with drivers to help map out a path best suited to advance their careers. There are so many different options currently in the motorsports arena that having a proper plan is almost as important as having the fastest driver.
"A proper testing program is so often overlooked as a young driver moves up the motorsports ladder," team owner John Walko stated. "What we want to do is shorten the learning curve for drivers by offering a development program that prepares them for the next step in their career, while allowing them to still focus on their karting or lower level formula car race programs. We have worked with several drivers within our race teams that have benefited from extensive testing programs. Our new development program is just a natural progression of our race programs."
John Walko Racing will use the Beaverun Motorsports Complex as the main track for the driver development program. The challenging 12-turn circuit, located one hour from the JWR race shop near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers significant cost benefits to drivers by limiting travel and track rental costs for the development program.
JWR already has already signed Charles Anti to a 2009 test program and is in talks with several other drivers about testing programs for the 2009 season. The former Star Mazda Team of the Year is also working on race programs for the 2009 season and has cars available for every event on the Star Mazda calendar.
John Walko Racing, the 2006 Star Mazda Team Champions, has established a national reputation as one of the top teams in Jr. Formula Car racing. Formed by race engineer John Walko, JWR has found success in SCCA Formula Ford, Formula Continental, the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship and the Star Mazda Championship.
John Walko Racing drivers have amassed 4 SCCA Runoff wins, 11 professional and 22 amateur wins, 37 professional podiums, 12 amateur podiums and 30 pole positions. Operating out of a state-of-the-art race shop in the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania suburb Trafford, John Walko Racing currently competes in the Star Mazda Championship.
For test and race opportunities please contact John Walko Racing via email, John@JohnWalkoRacing.com or by phone (412) 414-3304.
AWR Drivers move up the ladder
Andersen Walko Racing's four full-time drivers from the 2005 season have some exciting plans for 2006.
The team’s two drivers with the best results in the Star Mazda Championship, presented
by Goodyear, last year will both advance to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship presented by Yokohama in 2006.
Yesterday Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., who finished second in the Star Mazda championship last year and earned its Rookie of the Year award while driving for Anderwn Walko Racing(AWR), said “As of now we have made the decision to run the Champ Car Atlantic series for 2006. We have not signed anything yet, but hope fully in the next few weeks we should be able to announce which team we’ll be running with and all of the details.”
Pccorari broke the track record at Arizona’s Firebird Int’l Raceway in November while testing an Atlantic car with Brooks Associates Racing.
Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the Star Mazda Championship last year driving for AWR, has already announced his plans to compete in the Atlantic series.
The New Albany, Ohio driver will run with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, and yesterday he announced the car would be sponsored by Gehl, the Wisconsin-based light construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer. Last year, Rahal became the youngest driver ever to win a pro StarMazda race when he was victorious at Portland lnternational Raceway at the age of 16. He’ll revisit that track this year in the Atlantic series.
The Atlantic SeaSon opener is April 9 on tbe streets of Long Beach, CA.
Rahal will start his first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on Jan. 28 too. The 17-year-old is one of four drivers of the Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup No. 74 that set the fastest time for the GT class in testing at Daytona earlier this month.
Another ex-AWR driver, Adam Pecorari, Robbie's brother, who ran with the team in the Formula Ford Zetec series in 2004, is also expected to compete at Daytona. He drives a Rehagen Racing Mustang Cobra SVT in the Grand-Am Cup Series.
Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile has moved on to the new-generation USAC Silver Crown division. He is the driver of a Cristal Beer-sponsored Riley for Racing Teams Inc.,which is owned by Eliseo Salazar and Johnny Vance. His 2006 season opener is this weekend at Phoenix InternationalRaceway. He finished ninth in Star Mazda points last year with AWR.
AWR's Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Il. will drive in the lndy Racing League's Indy Pro series (formerly the Menards IInfniti Pro series) in 2006 as a member of the team that won the lndy Racing League lndy Car championship for the last two years, Andretti Green Racing.
Klein drove for AWR in both 2004 and 2005. He was the Star Mazda series' most improved driver of 2004, and he finished 13th in that series last year. His best finish was second in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California in October. His 2006 Indy Pro season opner will be March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.
"We're proud of all of our drivers, and we hope that the lessons they learned while running with us have been instrumental in their success" said AWR's Dan Andersen, "Our drivers for 2006 - Brad Jaeger, Gerardo Bonilla and Ramiro Scuncio - have some pretty big shoes to fill, but we'll help them as much as we can.''
The 2006 Star Mazda seasont opener is March 17 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
JWR ALUM: Graham Rahal captures his first National Championship taking the Formula Atlantic class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs
Race 8: Formula Atlantic Graham Rahal, of New Albany, Ohio., captured his first National Championship Friday, taking the Formula Atlantic class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in his Anderson Walko Racing Swift 014. Dan Selznick, of Phoenix, Ari., and David Wilcox, of Lake Dallas, Texas, completed the top-three.
Having led every session and set a new lap record in qualifying, Rahal entered the race as the odds on favorite to win. In what would prove to be the most difficult part of the race, Rahal's Anderson Walko Racing Swift 014 car misfired at the start, causing the 17 year-old to lose several positions entering the esses. Capitalizing on the opportunity, Selznick led Mirl Swan through the opening turns.
Quickly recovering from the poor start, Rahal moved into second on the second lap, passing Swan on the back straight. Having fallen back to third, Swan's race ended later in the lap, when he spun off-course. Posting lap times up to two seconds quicker than any other driver, Rahal soon caught Selznick, passing for the lead on lap five. Steadily pulling away from Selznick, David Wilcox and Keith Lively, the battle for fifth became the most heated amongst the leaders.
Having moved into fifth, Bernie Sunier went off-course on lap nine, allowing Ben Beasley to take the position. Two laps later, Beasley spun exiting Thunder Valley, becoming stuck in the grass, relinquishing fifth place to Ryan Spencer-Smith. On lap 17, the final change in top-five occurred, when Lively pulled into the pits and retired with a mechanical failure.
Setting a new race lap record, Rahal crossed the start/finish 43.01 seconds ahead of Selznick, to capture his first SCCA National Championship Runoffs win, 30-years after his father, racing legend Bobby Rahal won the Formula B National Championship. "I had a misfire at the start," said Rahal. "When I came out of the paddock the car misfired, but it cleared up right away. At the start it did it again and I thought, 'oh, no!', but it cleared up again and we were OK. I definitely had the fastest car out there and I knew that I could keep up. I took my time and caught up to Dan. I got a good run on him and passed into the Keyhole. Then I just kept careful, building my lead and trying to stay out of trouble."
Spencer-Smith, of Nappa, Calif., finished fourth, and Burke, of Rumson, N.J., completed the top-five.
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 23, 2005) - The weather at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course had been nearly perfect since Monday, so, of course, the skies on Friday - the first day of racing at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs(r) Presented by Kohler - were overcast and damp with fog and the 2.258-mile course wet with early morning rains.
A little water didn't stop the Runoffs, however, and the first eight champions were crowned, led by veterans Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., who won a record sixth Production class title when he won G Production, and John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., who won his fifth-consecutive Touring 1 Runoffs championship - a streak not seen since Warren Stilwell won seven Spec Racer Ford titles from 1994-2000. It was Heinricy's eight title overall, which moves him to third all-time in SCCA Runoffs history.
Not to be outdone, Runoffs rookie Graham Rahal, set a new race lap record and took top honors in Formula Atlantic - exactly 30 years after his father, Bobby, won the Formula B Championship in 1975.
Eight more races are on tap for Saturday, with Formula 500 set to wave the green flag at 10:05 a.m. (EDT) following warm-up sessions that begin at 8 a.m. To watch all race action via live timing and scoring, visit www.scca.com, where complete schedule information and results are located.
Chris Winkler WINs THE SCCA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in his JWR engineered Van Deimen
Commonly referred to as the "Olympics of Motorsports," the Valvoline Runoffs® at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, October 2-8, will bring the country's top amateur road racers to the 2.4-mile, 15-turn permanent road course with SCCA Club Racing National Championships on the line.
This season-ending battle traditionally features over 600 of the nation's top amateur drivers competing in 24 classes for the most coveted prize in amateur auto racing - an SCCA National Championship.
The 2000 event is the 37th edition of the Valvoline Runoffs® and the seventh consecutive time Mid-Ohio has played host. Some of the best and most well-known road racers have claimed gold at the event Car and Driver calls one of the "Top Ten" in motorsports. Skip Barber, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Paul Newman, Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Jim Trueman and Jimmy Vasser have all won SCCA National Championships en route to professional careers in motorsports.
"You race against the best and it's just like a pro race because the importance is there," Elliott Forbes-Robinson said. Forbes-Robinson won a B Sedan title and a C Production title at the Runoffs in 1976, and an A Production title in 1978. "It's a great feeling to know you can get in your car and be the best in the country."
The winners of the 24 classes typically represent an eclectic group of champions. Some victors are hobbyists racing for the sheer thrill of competition. Others, such as three-time CART champ Bobby Rahal, opened doors to professional racing at the SCCA Club Racing level.
To earn the right to race for an SCCA National Championship, drivers must compete in a minimum of six national events in one of eight SCCA divisions. The top eight competitors per division in each of the 24 classes are invited to the Runoffs. After a day of practice and three days of qualifying, competitors will square off in 20-lap races to determine this year's best amateur drivers.
"The Valvoline Runoffs® is some of the best racing action you will see at Mid-Ohio," Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course President Michelle Trueman Gajoch said. "The competitors' entire seasons come down to one 20-lap race. They go home as the best in the country, or they go home thinking about and working toward next year's event."
To make the Valvoline Runoffs® possible, the SCCA recruits more than 600 volunteers from over 35 states and Canada. The diverse crowd, which comes to Mid-Ohio as course marshals, technical inspectors, and timing and scoring officials, will travel from as far away as Washington, Florida and New York to help stage this year's "Olympics of Motorsports."
The Valvoline Runoffs® has been part of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course season schedule since 1994, when the SCCA National Championship event came to the historic course after 24 years at Road Atlanta. Mid-Ohio has the second longest tenure as host of the event.
The Formula Category
In the SCCA there are six formula classes are all single-seat, open-wheel racecars. They are built to detailed specifications for weight, size and engine displacement. There are incredible power to weight ratios in each class.
Van Diemen RF99
Van Diemen was founded in 1973 by Ross Ambrose and Ralph Firman Sr., whose children Marcos Ambrose, Ralph Firman Jr. and Natasha Firman have since gone on to have successful racing careers. The company's name comes from the island of Tasmania, Australia, which was formerly known as Van Diemen's Land and is where Ambrose was born and lived before moving to the UK to co-found the company.
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