JPM, Marco, A.J., Duran and Edwards Of late there have been a lot of stories, particularly on the internet, regarding the recent exploits of Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti, A.J. Allmendinger, Salvador Duran and John Edwards. We at Skip Barber are very proud of their past – and current, and likely future – accomplishments. When describing their racing backgrounds during the early parts of their careers, some of the information being passed along has been either not quite correct or incomplete. What we would like to accomplish here at Skip Barber is to get the facts down, so that any fan and/or racing writer who wants to describe the early successes of these five drivers has a resource to refer to…
Juan Pablo Montoya: Skip Barber Three Day Racing School, September 8-9-10, 1992, Infineon (nee Sears Point) Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. Instructors: Rob Slonaker, Vic Elford, John Bigham. Final evaluation, as written by Slonaker: “Colombian Karting Champion. We could see why… Skill level: 9 of 10.” (Also in this Three Day was Jeff Bucknum.) JPM then went back to Colombia for a year and came back to Skip Barber in August of 1993 for two test days in the Barber Saab Pro Series. Made his first pro start February, 1994, at the Miami Grand Prix, where Barber Saab was supporting the Trans-Am headliner. Jerry Nadeau sat on pole, Montoya alongside. Montoya took the lead at the start, led every lap, and set the fastest race-lap, which was one second clear of Nadeau’s pole time. During the rest of the year, Montoya’s finishes were: 2nd at Sebring, 7th at Road Atlanta, 12th at Lime Rock, 6th at Detroit, 6th at Watkins Glen, 4th at Laguna, pole-and- win-and fastest lap at Mid-Ohio, 5th on the oval at New Hampshire, 4th (and fastest lap) and 4th at Road America/Champ Car (double-race weekend) and 5th at Phoenix. Montoya won $42, 225 and finished third in the championship, 14 points behind champion and fellow Colombian Diego Guzman; Mark Hotchkis was second.
Marco Andretti: Skip Barber Three Day Racing School, March 14-15-16, 2003, Roebling Road, Savannah, Ga. Instructors: Keith Watts, Steve DeBrecht, Don Kutschall. Final evaluation, as written by Watts: “Solid job, serious player. No way he’s 16 (looks 12). Good kid. Skill level: 8 of 10.” Andretti then entered the finale weekend at Daytona of the 2002-2003 Skip Barber Southern Series for his first ever auto races and won (April 12 and 13, 2003). Andretti then entered the 2003 Eastern Series and won eight times in 14 starts to win the championship. He then won 10 times in 14 starts in the 2003-2004 Southern Series, again winning a title. In 2004, Andretti entered the Skip Barber National and won once in 14 starts (but finished on the podium eight other times) to pip four-time winner Gerardo Bonilla for the title, 191 points to 182.
A.J. Allmendinger: Skip Barber Three Day Racing School, November 28-29-30, 2000, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. Instructors: Tom Woods, Andrew Shoen, Ken Dobson. Final evaluation, as written by Woods: “Karting kid, way better by third day. Needs to work on downshifts, but he’s the King of Entry Speed. Great car control. Skill level: 7 of 10.” Allmendinger then entered the 2001 Skip Barber National, winning twice in 13 starts, with six additional podiums. Finished second in championship – by 2 points – to Julio Campos, who won four races. Allmendingre then went to the Barber Dodge Pro Series and absolutely dominated: six wins in 10 starts to win the title by 68 points over Rafael Sperafico. Of the year’s 247 laps, Allmendinger led 127 (51%).
Salvador Duran: Skip Barber Test Days, September 30 – October 2, 2002, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn. Instructors: Stephan Bastrzycki, Richard Spénard, John Murphy. Evaluation, as written by Bastrzycki: “ Fast, great car control. Likes to experiment and seems to gather info about car very quickly. Future series winner?!!” Salvador’s first race weekend was at Moroso in early March of 2003 in the 2002-2003 Skip Barber Southern Series: finished first in race one, second in race two. He then entered two championships in the summer of 2003; the Skip Barber Midwest Region and the Skip Barber National. In the Regional, Salvador won nine races in 14 starts and took the title. In the National, Salvador won twice in 13 starts and scored five additional podiums to finish second in the championship to Raphael Matos, a three-time winner.
John Edwards: Skip Barber Three Day Racing School, October 25-26-27, 2003, Sebring International, Sebring, Fla. (Edwards was 13 years old at the time, coming from karting.) Instructors: Walt Bohren, Jim Pace, Gerardo Bonilla. Final evaluation, as written by Bohren: “Very good job for first experience. Going to do very well. Likes to over-drive entry… youthful enthusiasm.” The next month he entered the Road Atlanta race weekend of the 2003-2004 Southern Series and finished 13th and sixth in his first two races. By January 2004, he won his first race (at Daytona) to become the youngest-ever winner of an America open-wheel road race. Edwards won two more times and finished fifth in the final points standings. He then entered the 2004 Skip Barber National, the year that Andretti won the championship. By far the youngest driver ever in an open-wheel pro series, Edwards made steady progress and by the end of the year was finishing in the top five; he was seventh in the final points standings. Skip Barber PR