Chris “The Wolf” Winkler got his first taste for the track at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in Mont-Tremblant more than 20 years ago. Over the course of his semi-pro career, Winkler has done everything from claim an SCCA championship to going wheel-to-wheel racing on quarter-mile tracks. If it’s got wheels, he’s raced it.
Last year Dodge tapped him to drive the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR (American Club Racer) in a quest to attain the undisputed title as the world’s fastest street-legal car. Since then the 2016 Dodge Viper has claimed 13 single-lap track records, setting a new mark for number of records held by a production car, and Winkler has been behind the wheel for eleven of them. Winkler, who works for Dodge as an SRT® Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, not only knows how to wring every 100th of a second out of the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, he also helped build it.
Here we caught up with Winkler to talk about his accomplishments on the track and what sets the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR apart from its legendary predecessors.
Here we caught up with Winkler to talk about his accomplishments on the track and what sets the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR apart from its legendary predecessors.
Redline: What originally got you into racing?
CHRIS WINKLER: I wanted to get involved in cars and racing out of college. I crewed on a friend’s open-wheel car and went on to Jim Russell Racing Drivers School outside of Montreal. They were the coolest at the time because they allowed passing. I did their annual graduate runoff and won. That gives you a free year of racing up at their school. I took rookie of the year. The next year I won their series and that gave me a free ticket to their international championships in England. I went over, got one day to learn the course, and came in second. It would have been interesting to come in first since winning got you a year in a manufacturer’s cup series, second place got you nothing!
Which track did you enjoy taking the Viper ACR on the most?
Any track with a lot of elevation change and blind corners is the most challenging. The flat tracks and the modern tracks have their quirks but there’s nothing like the thrill of traversing the elevation changes typical of older tracks. Road Atlanta is one of my favorites, even though they eliminated one of the most exciting turns in racing by adding an S-turn to slow cars down coming in under the bridge.
What’s the most challenging corner out of the tracks you’ve driven?
I didn’t drive Laguna Seca for this campaign but it has turns 5, 6, the Corkscrew, and then turns 9 and 10. They have elevation changes and camber changes that make you commit the car early on until you reach the exit. In these superfast turns like the ones at Laguna you’re crossing your fingers for a good portion of them and hoping for the best.
What are a few things that set the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR apart from its predecessors?
The tire contact patch on the road for starters. The Kumho® Ecsta V720 tires are the equivalent of any DOT race tire. Kumho® has stepped up every time for FCA. We gave them a shot at the ACR and they succeeded beyond our expectations. The tires have great drivability at the limit and fantastic grip. The rear tires are fantastic for power delivery. The suspension, the BILSTEIN® shocks are tuned for the ACR. And the Extreme Aero Package transforms the car. Aerodynamic grip, produced by downforce, is essentially free grip. There’s no penalty or compromise in another performance area. It just helps you all around and it works better at high speeds than low speeds (1, 101 lbs. of downforce at 150 mph and 1, 533 lbs. at 177 mph). It’s part of what makes the Viper ACR such a great car.
Where would you like to set the next lap record?
It would be nice to go the ‘Ring (Nürburgring). That’s the elephant in the room anytime we talk about this kind of thing. We couldn’t go earlier because they shut it down for lap record attempts. We’ve been waiting for them to improve the track.
You can tweak everything from the suspension to the aero package on the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR. Was there much variance in your setups for each track?
We’re going to share the tweaks we had for each of the tracks and publish the setup sheets for each run. The differences are very minor off of the standard set up, a click or two of shock or a half-inch of ride height. It’s a sensitive machine. It’s a racecar for the road and appropriately it responds like one.
What makes the ACR so unique even within the Viper range of cars?
We were able to use spring rates (600 lbs./in. on the front, 1, 300 lbs./in. in the rear) we have never come close to before and that helps the aero platform.
What do you consider the most significant track record to date for the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR?
We blew away the lap record at Laguna Seca and did it with Randy Pobst. He’s one of the best drivers there. He can somehow master the track with any car. We beat a $1 million hypercar by 1.24 seconds. It’s a significant margin. Right now it’s hard to imagine a better track car based on a car you can drive on the street.
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.
Steve Welk Joins the Walko Stable for Road AmericaTesting and More Keeps Team Busy During Star Mazda Break
TRAFFORD, PA (July 30, 2007) – John Walko Racing will add a third car for their assault on th Road America when the Star Mazda Series returns to the storied venue on August 11 . Steve Welk will join Charles Anti and Russell Walker for his first Star Mazda race.
Team owner John Walko has a long history with Welk however and is confident his newest driver will be able to deliver on short notice.
"I've know Steve since we raced in the Zetec Series and I was impressed with him back then. He has a solid background from Karting Championships to Formula Ford. That is his home track, he lives there actually, and he has a lot of local support. We'd love to have it grow in to a bigger program for Steve but I'm excited to have him for Road America at least."
Walko has good reason to be excited about Welk's prospects at Road America. The Wisconsin native competed at Road America in the Formula Ford Cooper Tires Championship Series in 2006 and scored second and third place finishes in the two races. Impressive results for any weekend but more impressive in light of the fact that it was the only open wheel races Welk ran in 2006.
Welk will also enter the race with the benefit of a day of testing in a variety of conditions as Walko noted.
"Steve tested very well at BeaveRun. We were able to get him a significant amount of seat time in wet, dry and drying conditions and he ran competitive times throughout the day."
The test not only served to acquaint Welk to the Star Mazda machine but also enabled him to get comfortable with the JWR crew.
"I thought the team and everything worked tremendously well. I've wanted to work with John for a few years now after running with him in Zetec so it was really cool to be able to do the test. I felt I had a good balance with the car and I think a good base of information with the car going in to Road America."
Welk brings more than just talent to the table when it comes to Road America however as he has countless laps on the 4.048 mile, 14 turn course.
"Going to Road America I think I have a lot of good information on the track since I spent so much time there. I know John will put a good car underneath me so I'm pretty excited. I'm looking for a top five and we're perfectly capable of doing that despite the tough field in Star Mazda right now. John's team is a lot of fun to work with and I'm really excited about running with them there, I can't wait!"
While the Star Mazda Championship Series has not raced since the July 7th round at Toronto, the JWR team has not had any problems finding ways to stay busy.
Testing has continued with JWR's duo of regular drivers. Russell Walker visits Road Atlanta in preparation for the upcoming race there on October 5th while Charles Anti has been in the car several times at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex.
Anti's tests have also given the team the chance to further develop Kate Gundlach's engineering talents. Gundlach, the team's data acquisition specialist, is being groomed as the team's third engineer according to Walko.
"We have been using these tests to get Kate more experience turning the knobs on the car as well, doing some more engineering. She'll be our third engineer; that has always been the plan for her. It's been interesting as Kate has been learning how the car works from the data end first while the rest of started life as mechanics. She is coming at it from a different perspective which should be a benefit to the whole team in the long run."
Gundlach continues to take advantage of all of her opportunities including recently participating in the fifth annual Women in the Winner's Circle program hosted by Lyn St. James. The event honoring women in motorsports took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard 400 festivities.
The team has also taken part in several corporate events and driving programs at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex. Participants are able to see exactly how the team operates by interacting with the mechanics and the drivers as well as having the chance to see and analyze data and video with the engineers. Many have also been fortunate enough to leave with the once in a lifetime opportunity to climb behind the wheel of one of the Star Mazda machines.
While these types of programs may not yield on track performance gains they are instrumental in demonstrating the team's ability to excel in other areas besides the racetrack, a critical element to operating a successful race team in the current motorsports marketplace.
Drivers interested in joining JWR for upcoming tests are encouraged to contact the team soon. Also, drivers interested in discussing the remaining 2007 races or a 2008 racing program should contact John Walko Racing at email@example.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.
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Sept. 22 - Andersen Walko Racing, which topped the team point standings for 2004 in the Formula Ford Zetec championship, will field two Star Mazda cars in the latter series' race Friday as a support event to the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park in Braselton, Ga.
The cars will be driven by 17-year-old rookies Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill. and Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., the younger brother of one of AWR's Formula Ford Zetec drivers, Adam Pecorari.
Klein has competed in all but one of the Star Mazda races held this year and has been doing extremely well. He is currently in ninth place in the overall point standings out of 39 drivers. To date his best finishes are a fourth at Lime Rock Park and a fifth at Mosport.
Pecorari will be making his first start ever in the Star Mazda series this weekend. In July he stepped into an AWR entry in a Formula SCCA doubleheader at Lime Rock, and although he'd never been in one of those races either he finished second in the first race and won the second one.
The Star Mazda car that Pecorari will drive at Road Atlanta is owned by Doug Prendeville, another one of AWR's Zetec drivers and the brother of the AWR driver who finished second in the Zetec championship this year, Andrew Prendeville.
"I've never raced in the Star Mazda series before, but the cars are some of the best cars out there for the price and Road Atlanta is definitely a fun track," said Robbie Pecorari, a senior at Garnet Valley High School in Concord, Pa. "It's a driver's track; it'll take a good driver to win there. I enjoy racing with Andersen Walko. We'll just try our best and see how it goes."
The 45-minute race, which will be taped for broadcast on SPEED at noon Eastern time on Oct. 10, is one of three remaining events on the 2004 Star Mazda schedule. It is scheduled to get the green flag at 1:35 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.
After Road Atlanta the series, which is presented by Goodyear, travels to Phoenix for a race on the oval at Phoenix Int'l Raceway Oct. 2 and then on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. for the season finale on Oct. 16.
Klein, who is sponsored by Kalfact Plastics; Fettes, Love and Sieben; Nexus Distribution Corp.; Midwest Steel & Services; Ironclad and ProStar, recently participated in a two-day test on the Phoenix oval in his Star Mazda car.
"There were 11 cars testing there, including mine," Klein reported. "We were second-quickest throughout the two days.
"We had some gearbox problems on the first day and we had some engine overheating problems and broke a half-shaft on the second day," he continued. "Luckily that happened when I was coming out of the pits and wasn't up to full speed.
"Unfortunately the second day I did end the day with a crash in turn one when one of my tires failed," he continued. "We weren't on Goodyears, and the tire went down and I went into the wall."
Although the right side of Klein's car was damaged, luckily he wasn't hurt.
"It was the biggest oval I've ever been on," Klein added. "John [Walko, team co-owner and chief engineer] and Eric [Langbein, an engineer] did a great job setting up the car. To post the second-fastest time before we made any changes whatsoever shows how good our team is."
This weekend's Star Mazda schedule shows practice today at 10 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. Tomorrow (Thursday) practice is slated for 9:15 a.m. followed by qualifying at 4:25 p.m. The race time is 1:35 p.m. Friday.
Andersen Walko Racing's office is in Fairfield, N.J. and its shop is in North Versailles, Pa.
LEXINGTON, OHIO (June 27, 2004) - Adam Pecorari, of Aston, Pa., won Round Ten of the Formula Ford Zetec Championship, part of the Cooper Tires Championship Series, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Completing the top-three is Andrew Prendeville, of Monroeville, Pa. and Steve Welk of Franklin, Wisc. Winning the American Continental Championship is Ron Thomas, of Galena Ohio.
Commencing early in the morning, the Zetec Championship car rolled onto the 2.258-mile road course under sunny, but cool conditions. At the drop of the green flag, the field went three-wide into the esses, with race one winner Prendeville maintaining the lead. Getting a great start Ian Lacy and Pecorari moved into second and third respectively.
Running-nose-to-tail on the opening lap, Pecorari applied heavy pressure to Lacy. On lap two, Pecorari got to the inside under braking and made the pass for position. Once past, Pecorari immediately began to close on Prendeville, in the No. 25 Racelink/Roos Racing School Andersen Walko Racing Van Diemen Ford. Within three laps, Pecorari was right behind Prendeville, while Lacy came under attack from Wade Cunningham.
Racing side-by-side into the esses, Pecorari passed his Andersen Walko Racing teammate to take the lead. As Pecorari began to pull away, Lacy and Cunningham made contact with one another while battling for third place. Able to continue, both drivers rejoined back in the field. Having gotten a great start and repeatedly held off challenges from Bobby Wilson, Welk, in the No. 57 Sportscar Revolution/Briggs & Stratton Aiken Racing Van Diemen Ford, moved into third place.
While several drivers enjoyed some good battles for position, the top-five stayed constant the remainder of the race. At the checkered flag, Pecorari, in the No. 28 SAI Hydraulics Andersen Walko Racing Van Diemen Ford, had scored his first career Zetec Championship win by 4.416 seconds.
"It's fantastic to be here," said Pecorari, who set fastest lap of the race. "I haven't won any race for two years, so it's great to be back on top of the podium. The team gave me a great car. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and win more races this year and get back into the championship fight."
"It was tough race," said Prendeville, who now leads the Zetec Championship standings by four points (231-227) over Wilson. "My tires went away real early and once Adam [Pecorari] got past he was to fast for me to catch. The important thing is we leave with the points lead."
"I'm so happy right now," said Welk, who captured his first career podium finish. "The whole team has been working real hard and we've been getting quicker every time we are on the track."
Completing the top-five is Wilson, of Dousman, Wisc., in the No. 3 Citrus Systems Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, who has finished in the top-five at every race and Ian Baas, of Indianapolis, Ind., in the No. 4 Blossom Chevrolet Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, who tied his career best finish.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAIRFIELD, N.J., May 3 - As if fielding multiple cars in the Formula Ford Zetec series and the Formula SCCA series weren't enough, Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) announced today that it will also enter the Star Mazda pro series starting with the next race, which is slated for June 26 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Although he missed the season opener, Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill. will switch from the FSCCA series and represent AWR in the nine remaining Star Mazda events on that series' 2004 schedule.
The team's other two FSCCA drivers, Chris Meredith of Potomac, Md. and Danny Abbale of Northport, N.Y., will continue to compete in the FSCCA series.
Klein cited the Pro Mazda series' attractive TV schedule, stable schedule and its proven car package for his change of plans. His new Star Mazda car is scheduled to arrive in AWR's shops in North Versailles, Pa. later this month.
Prior to that, the team will take delivery on another Star Mazda race car that will be driven by a variety of the team's Formula Ford Zetec drivers. Adam Pecorari of Aston, Pa.; Doug Prendeville of Morristown, N.J. and Mike Andersen of Green Pond, N.J. all plan to drive it in one to three Star Mazda races this year as their FF Zetec schedules permit.
The Star Mazda series is sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), and most of its events are run as companion races to American Le Mans Series (ALMS) events.
"We're excited about adding this terrific pro championship into our schedule, and we plan an aggressive testing program in May and June to prepare for the end-of-June ALMS weekend at Mid-Ohio," said Dan Andersen, the team's co-owner. "They have a great TV package, purse and schedule, and we will have at least one driver in all the remaining races this year."
The Pro Mazda races are broadcast on the SPEED Channel in the United States and on the Sky Sports World Motorsports program internationally.
The series, which is presented by Goodyear, carries a total prize package of approximately $500,000.
The cars use a Mazda rotary engine called the Renesis that is also used in the Mazda RX-8 sports car.
Nexus Distribution Corp, Midwest Steel & Services, Ironclad Performance Wear, ProStar Group, Kalfact Plastics and Fettes, Love & Sieben will sponsor Klein's Star Mazda.
After round two at Mid-Ohio, the Star Mazda pro series moves to Lime Rock Park in Lime Rock, Conn. on July 3; Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on July 17; Portland (Ore.) Int'l Raceway on July 24 and Mosport Int'l Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario on Aug. 7. The circuit appears at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on Aug. 21; Road Atlanta on Sept. 24; on the oval at Phoenix Int'l Raceway Oct. 2 and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 26.
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Feb. 20 - Andersen Walko Racing (AWR), one of the most successful formula car prep shops in North America, has become a dealer for Pi Research data acquisition products.
AWR will use that company's systems in all three of its cars competing in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec championship in 2004. Andrew Prendeville, Adam Pecorari and Mike Andersen are the drivers.
Dan Abbale, Jonathan Klein and Chris Meredith drive for AWR in the Formula SCCA series. Scott Willard's Formula Continental car is prepped by AWR, as is Tim Dunn's Formula Ford.
The team is currently installing Pi's new Delta Lite system with "X Sport" dashes and Toolbox Lite software into many of its cars.
"We've had a long-term working relationship with members of AWR," explained Jason Knuteson, SCCA Club Racing sales manager for Pi Research, USA, which is based in Indianapolis. "AWR is one of our premier teams in SCCA Club Racing, and we're excited to have them on board. All of their team cars are on Pi systems."
"We chose PiXpress because its new dash display is excellent and it offers a new 'qualifying mode,' which gives drivers instant feedback," said Andersen, who in addition to being one of the team's drivers is also its data acquisitions expert.
"In addition to using Pi systems, we will carry their products and accessories for sale to other teams," added his father, team co-owner Dan Andersen.
The new X Sport from PiXpress was developed directly from the steering wheel-mounted instrumentation used in the cockpits of Indy car and Formula 1 race cars. It allows drivers to see the data when they want to, and neatly replaces gauges or other bulkhead-mounted instrumentation in a small, lightweight package mounted directly on the steering wheel.
Among the things it keeps track of are lap times and lap numbers completed; the driver's current lap position against the fastest lap of the day; real-time speed and RPMs; minimum corner and maximum straight speeds; gear numbers; and high-intensity gear changes in order to protect the engine. Logged data includes lap times, maximum speed and RPMs, and maximum and minimum sensor values for each lap. Data can be downloaded to a PC laptop to discuss in driver debriefings, hopefully resulting in better lines and faster speeds.
For more information on Pi, see www.piXpress.com and www.piResearch.com.
AWR has offices in Fairfield, N.J. while its race cars are housed in a shop in North Versailles, Pa. For more information call (973) 244-1900 and see the team's Web site at www.andersenwalko.com.
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Jan. 21 - Andersen Walko Racing (AWR), one of the most successful formula-car prep shops in North America, announced today that Andrew and Doug Prendeville, Adam Pecorari and three-time and reigning SCCA Formula Continental National Champion Mike Andersen will compete in AWR entries this year in the Formula Ford Zetec Championship (FF2000), which is part of the Cooper Tires Championship Series.
The team's drivers line-up for its Formula SCCA (FSCCA) and SCCA national programs will be released soon.
Several of the drivers are in the middle of an extensive winter testing schedule organized by the company, which has offices in Fairfield, N.J. and a 7,500-square-foot race shop in North Versailles, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
Andrew Prendeville and Adam Pecorari plan to contest all of the FF2000 Zetec events, while Doug Prendeville and Andersen will run in selected events.
"Our goal is a one-two championship finish, nothing less, and with these two talented pilots running the entire schedule we can accomplish that goal," said team co-owner Dan Andersen.
Andrew Prendeville, 22, of Monroeville, Pa., finished fifth in the FF2000 Zetec championship last year running with AWR after earning the SCCA Formula Continental National Championship at the prestigious SCCA Valvoline Runoffs in 2002.
"I'm definitely going for the championship this year," he said. "I think we can do much better than we did last year. This year I want to be on top. I think the competition is going to be just as tough as last year, but I think my experience last year will really help going into this year's events."
Pecorari, of Ashton, Pa., ran in the FF2000 Zetec championship for the team last year too, scoring one podium finish and three top-five finishes and finishing eighth in points for the year. The 19-year-old was named the series' "Rising Star" at last year's awards banquet. Prior to moving into formula cars he captured two International Karting Federation (IKF) Grand National championships and was a finalist at the world-famous Monaco Cup in Monte Carlo.
"My goal is to be on the podium at every race," Pecorari said. "As far as the championship goes, we'll have to see. I believe that I have a good chance of winning the title, but Andrew is going to be one of the drivers who will be my toughest competition. It's going to be a good season."
Pecorari added that he's pleased to be a member of the AWR squad. "They're really a professional team and their cars are good," he said. "They're really nice guys too."
Doug Prendeville plans to compete in the first two races (Sebring, Fla. in March and Road Atlanta in April), while Mike Andersen's 2004 season is scheduled to begin at the Road Atlanta race. He plans to compete in approximately four events, and is especially looking forward to the two races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Although Andersen has run only a limited schedule of SCCA Formula Continental events since 1998, the 30-year-old Green Pond, N.J.-based driver has accumulated a dozen SCCA national victories, 17 SCCA national poles, four SCCA Runoffs poles and five SCCA track records in addition to his three SCCA national Formula Continental championships. He took a break from competition from 1996 through 1997, but before that he was a star of the pro Formula Ford 2000 series, finishing fourth in 1992, second in 1993 and third in 1994.
"I'm not planning to defend my Formula Continental championship; we sold that car," he explained. "Once they finalize the FF2000 Zetec schedule I'll decide how many race I'll do. I usually do four or five races a year."
Can he beat his two teammates who will be running the entire schedule?
"Well, I'll try!" he said with a smile. "I've beaten Andrew before but I've never raced against Adam."
Doug Prendeville, Andrew's older brother by three years, lives in Morristown, N.J. He got started in the sport through local go-kart events and the Bertil Roos School. He won the Bertil Roos Hard-Charger Award in 2001. He competed in SCCA Formula Continental events in 2002, finishing third in the Northeast division point standing and nabbing a second place at the Valvoline Runoffs. He ran the entire FF2000 Zetec series last year with AWR, finishing 13th in points and gaining a great deal of experience which will help him in 2004.
AWR was formed in November 2002 with the merger of two-time SCCA national champions Andersen/Kish Racing and John Walko Racing. The team finished third overall in its first season together on the FF2000 Zetec trail. The team is led by Dan Andersen, co-owner, team president and Mike's father, and John Walko, co-owner, team manager and chief engineer.
Dan Andersen, one of the most influential men in the junior open-wheel formula car ranks in North America for over a decade, organized the U.S. Formula 2000 national championship series with partner Mike Foschi in the early nineties and ran it successfully through 2001. He has also owned and operated his own successful race team with his son for many years.
Walko is recognized as one of top engineers in Formula Ford, Formula Continental and Formula Ford 2000 racing today, with multiple SCCA national championships and runner-up finishes. He was chosen as "Engineer of the Year" for 2003 in the FF2000 Zetec series. He also ran the factory Carbir team in the U.S. F2000 series.
MONDAY, DEC. 23, FAIRFIELD, N.J., -- Andersen Walko Racing has announced its first driver lineup for the 2003 season. Brothers Doug and Andrew Prendeville of Morristown, N.J., front-runners in SCCA Formula Continental competition last season, will pair up in the professional Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship.
“We are proud to have reached an agreement with two promising young stars so soon after we announced the formation of our team,” said team co-owner Dan Andersen. “We watched Doug and Andrew last year and we were impressed, and we are excited that we can help them move up the motorsports ladder.”
The Prendevilles made waves last season by finishing 1-2 at the SCCA’s National Championship Runoffs, with Andrew qualifying on pole and taking the title, in just their first full year of racing. After getting their start at the Bertil Roos Racing school in 2001, the two bulldozed the SCCA’s Northeast division in 2002, with Andrew, 19, winning the division on the strength of four wins, and Doug, 24, placing third with two wins. At the prestigious June Sprints, Andrew finished second while Doug took third. For their efforts they were awarded co-rookie-of-the-year status in the Northeast division.
The two also made their pro debuts. Andrew contested four FF2000 races, earning two top-10 finishes and one outside-pole starting spot. Doug made two FF2000 starts, including one from outside pole, and also entered two Fran-Am Formula Renault races, producing finishes of seventh and third.
Andersen Walko racing was recently formed through the merger of two-time SCCA National Champions, Andersen Kish Racing, with pro FF2000 veterans John Walko Racing. In addition to the two-car effort in the FF2000 Zetec Championship, the team will field entries for two drivers in the new Formula SCCA class, and will continue fielding cars in SCCA’s Formula Continental class.
John Walko, Co-Owner, Team Manager and Chief Engineer, is recognized as one of the best race engineers in Formula Continental and FF2000 racing today. His accomplishments include winning two SCCA National Championships and two runner-up finishes at the SCCA Runoffs in the past four years, including 1999 and 2000 FC runner-ups, 2000 FF National Champion, and 2001 FC National Champion.
On the pro side, Walko ran the factory Carbir team in U.S. FF2000 competition, winning the American Continental Championship for year-old cars in 1999 and 2000. His pro drivers in 2001 and 2002, Paul Dana, Tom Dyer, Josh Schreiber, Joel Nelson, Mike Andersen, and Doug Prendeville recorded four podium, 11 top-five and 16 top-ten finishes. Walko recorded his first pro win in 2002 with Dyer on the oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Dan Andersen, Co-Owner and Team President, is one of the most respected figures in the junior open-wheel ranks, with a proud tradition of helping develop young American driving talent. Dan founded the U.S. FF2000 pro series in 1991 and guided it for 10 years, turning it into one of the top open-wheel development formulas in the world with numerous graduates enjoying successful careers in CART and the IRL. Dan also has owned and operated his own successful race team for his son Mike for the past 5 seasons, and heads a $20 million/year contracting business he founded in New Jersey in 1974.
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