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Dale Coyne Racing
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Oriol Servia
Scott Dixon

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Alexandre Tagliani
Patrick Carpentier

Sigma Autosports
Max Papis
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Kenny Brack

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Paul Tracy
Dario Franchitti

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Michael Andretti

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Jimmy Vasser
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Latest News and Commentary

A reader speaks out about karting & F1 driver search

May 10,  2002

Danny Sullivan, Red Bull and the entire American Racing fraternity!

The "Red Bull F1 Driver Search Initiative" is an idea whose time has finally come, however there are a few things that I hope that you/we are all going to keep in mind!

First, where do you/they start?

That's almost as important as anything else they intend to do! Why you ask? Well, then ask why American drivers are rarely ever considered for top racing teams vacancy's in ANY country!

Certainly, it is not that American drivers aren't as potentially gifted as drivers from all over the World! In fact, American drivers and riders have made a huge impact on all kinds of racing endeavors from motocross to GP bikes to success in many American based series. The problem is that most American drivers never expose themselves to the European or International teams because they do not "come up through the ranks" of European feeder series system. The various feeder series in Europe are fierce and even may be "brutally competitive"!

Whereas in most any American racing series, drivers are required to be "gentlemen" or face penalties or expulsion. That is not to say "red neck racing" should be endorsed, but rather intense racing should be provided! More on this...

It is true that bringing up proper racing car drivers should start with "karting"! No doubt there and few will question that comment. Where the problem lies is with what type of karting should we be providing American drivers? The "more for business than sport" approach is to provide "shifter kart" racing series as the place to be to get to the next step, but is that really correct?

In Europe, "direct drive 100cc" karts are the way to learn real intense racing amongst a large pack of competitors! Without the benefit of either a gearbox or a clutch, these kart racers have to learn how to extract extreme speed out of their machines without scrubbing off too much speed in any turn or they will be eaten alive by all of the other competitors! Flat out racing in large packs three abreast into most any turn and it is indeed a gladiator sport, but it raises the bar of competitiveness to where the strongest and best talent survive! This is where the training of our next or future F1 racers will come out of! The mental tenacity learned here alone is probably worth it.

Gearbox karts are cool and everything, and the long standing American method of "wet clutches" both allow too much of a crutch compared to direct drive machines! It's "learn to be lightning quick" or there are ten other karts ready to take away your race position! With a clutch kart or a gearbox, the driver does not have to push so hard constantly. No, I am not saying that shifters aren't real race cars, because they are! What I am saying is that we need these direct drive classes here in America and we need then NOW! These lightning fast karts are the closest thing to F1 than any small formula car! That is why newer talent like Rakkinen and Button have made the jump so soon!

We also need to send an American Team to compete in the Formula Super A World Championship in Europe every year. This is the elite "cream of the crop" 100cc series that separates the men from the boys! American interests should financially back a good effort that is racing at this level! This is where Schumacher, Trulli, Button, Fisichella and Rakkinen have all recently competed! Yes, World Champion Michael Schumacher went there last year to compete!

Patrick Long. Phillip Giebler, Joey Hand, Alex Barron, George Mack, Memo Gidley, Michael Valiente, Richie Hearn and a select few others have experienced the similar Formula A rotary valve direct drive class that has from time to time in the past been offered by either the WKA or the IKF as National classes.

American series like NAKA "Stars of Tomorrow" , WKA/SCCA "Constructor's Cup" or especially SKUSA "Pro Series" are mainly concerned about shifters and seem to ignore the ever important "Junior International A" class that has over twelve or so European manufacturers providing piston port 100cc engines.

Instead, WKA/SCCA are providing a class later this year for a fictional "Junior Mondial" class that has no real motor!  NAKA is waiting until next year to bring this class around. Certainly our shifter drivers need a break, and the new ICC class is pumping up the blood, but so does the Juniors! That is where we will begin to develop the "killer instinct" that is going to be required to get American drivers considered at all!  Europe is even where the Brazilian fathers send their sons go to train! That is where Senna went to compete with the legendary Parrilla brothers and begin his road to stardom!  Senna competed in 100cc direct drive and finished second, but never won it!

Sponsorship has always been another problem! Japanese companies that support teams usually require Japanese drivers to be considered for at least one seat of any two car team! English, Brazilian and other European companies usually require the same thing! Mainly, it is required that one driver on that team be of that companies own countrymen! When large American companies sponsor F1 or other major International series efforts, they NEVER require an American driver be concerned strongly! This should change as well! If everybody's doing that, then American companies should too!

In conclusion, I feel that we need European classes of karting here in America, especially "direct drive" classes and we need to form an American team to contest the karting World Championships in Formula Super A! I could go on for hours, but this should get the point across!

Here's to ICA, JICA and ICC!

Danny, Red Bull, America, put Memo in F3000 or F3 for a season and then get him into F1!  Help support Patrick Long and Phillip Giebler who are already over there as frontiersmen and are trying to blaze a trail the correct way!

David Siller
Kwik Kart Racing
USA

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