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.
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