Team USA Scholarship winners Ready for Snetterton Finale
Snetterton, England – Teenaged Californians Patrick Barrett and Joel Miller will face an intensified level of competition when the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy wraps up with three races this weekend at Snetterton in eastern England.
In addition to all the leading contenders from last week at Brands Hatch, several more talented home-grown drivers have entered the fray in the hope of earning a place in the shootout for the prestigious McLaren/Autosport/BRDC Award. The highest placed Briton aged 23 or under will join five other candidates who were selected on the basis of their results during the regular British season.
“The steep competition definitely requires us to raise our game,” said Miller. “We are up against some of England’s best junior formula drivers, so we have to step it up. For me, driving in the rain last weekend was a big eye-opener and a huge learning experience. But that’s fine; that’s why we’re here – to learn.”
Miller, 19, from Hesperia, Calif., and his 18-year-old teammate, Patrick Barrett, from Los Osos, Calif., today completed four test sessions on the flat but challenging 1.952-mile road course situated on a former airfield which was home to the 96th U.S. Air Force Bomber Group during World War II. The pair still have a little time to find, but both made steady progress and are raring to go for the weekend.
“It’s a very fast track,” noted Barrett. “It reminds me of Road America in terms of its speed and the commitment that it requires. It’s fast and it’s flowing, so you really need to keep up your momentum.”
Adds Miller: “There are only really six corners, but that’s six opportunities to get it wrong!
“Today was really good,” Miller continued. “Every session was a plus. I was faster every time I went out. There were no negatives. Tomorrow I need to put a multiplier sign instead of a plus.”
Barrett was also encouraged, although his hopes of finding some time in the final half-hour session were dashed by a left rear tire in the waning minutes.
“That was a shame,” said Barrett, “but I feel pretty good. We were running old tires today and just getting comfortable. I think we’re creeping up on it.”
Barrett and Miller have kept busy during the few days in between the two FPA race weekends. On Tuesday, they were granted a private tour of one of the world’s premier race car manufacturers, Lola Cars. One day later, while Miller traveled to London to make some connections for the future, Barrett visited the Wellingborough base of RML (Ray Mallock Ltd), which fields Chevrolet’s factory-backed World Touring Car Championship team, a Le Mans P2 prototype car and this week announced an exciting new project to build race versions of the McLaren Mercedes SLR supercar.
“The Lola visit was really good because I’m going to school for mechanical engineering,” said Miller, “and I was able to talk to several of the engineers about different aspects of the race cars.”
“I was one of the first members of the public to see the McLaren SLR race car in person, which was very cool,” added Barrett. “It’s a fantastic car.”
Past winners of the Team USA Scholarship include Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards, Phil Giebler, A.J. Allmendinger, J.R. Hildebrand and Dane Cameron.
Team USA Scholarship supporters include Doug Mockett & Company, Champ Car World Series, American Honda, Snap-on Stars of Karting, Silicon Salvage, Dyson Racing, Integrated Performance Technology, Pacific Coast Motorsports, Andersen Racing Team, PitFit Training, iRacing.com, AutoRacing1.com, Metalore, Sparco USA, Cooper Tire, Cosworth USA, Champ Car Atlantic, Star Mazda, Buttonwillow Raceway, RACER magazine, FormulaCar Magazine, Pfanner Communications, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group, The Print Network and an array of past Scholarship winners.