Last month, Barrett, 17, from Los Osos, Calif., and Miller, 19, from Hesperia, Calif., learned they will carry the Scholarship’s patriotic red-white-and-blue colors in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy series to be held later this fall in England.
The two Californians will test a Star Mazda car for Andersen Racing prior to their European foray, and tomorrow will broaden their experience and further enhance their preparations by testing a US RaceTronics Champ Car Atlantic Swift 016.a at Buttonwillow Raceway in central California.
The test has been officially blessed by the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and has been made possible with assistance from Champ Car, Cosworth USA, Cooper Tire, Buttonwillow Raceway and, especially, Pacific Coast Motorsports as part of its burgeoning commitment to developing a true "ladder of opportunity."
PCM, which fields two cars in the Champ Car World Series for drivers Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel, announced at Portland in June that it had established a partnership with Shane Seneviratne’s US RaceTronics team, which this year entered emerging talents Carl Skerlong and David Garza in the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. PCM also named promising 13-year-old kart racer Miles Maroney to its newly created PCM Junior Team.
PCM’s support of the Team USA Scholarship lends more credence to its aim of creating a means for youngsters to progress all the way from karts to the Champ Car World Series.
"The Team USA Scholarship has a great history of developing talented young American drivers and giving them an opportunity to develop their skills," said PCM team director Tyler Tadevic. "That’s precisely our philosophy at Pacific Coast Motorsports, so it was a perfect match. We looked at how we could become involved, talked with Shane Seneviratne, and giving the boys a run in an Atlantic car just seemed to make sense. It will give them a taste of what to expect in the future and an opportunity to drive a car with some real horsepower before they head over to England."
"This is a unique opportunity for US RaceTronics to team up with Pacific Coast Motorsports in providing a test to the 2007 Team USA Scholarship winners," added Seneviratne. "Some very successful drivers have been recipients of this award; we are honored to be part of the next generation of drivers to continue this path of success."
"We are delighted that US RaceTronics has graciously offered a taste of its Atlantic car to the drivers as they prepare for their competition later this fall," said Champ Car Atlantic Championship managing director Vicki O’Connor. "Here’s hoping that both drivers are successful for Team USA, and we will definitely be paying attention to their performance. We would be thrilled if Patrick and Joel eventually followed in the footsteps of so many previous members of Team USA and found their way to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship to continue their development."
Barrett and Miller already have conducted seat-fittings for the 300-hp Mazda/Cosworth-powered Swift and are excited about their prospects for tomorrow’s test.
"What a great opportunity this is for me as a driver," says Miller. "Atlantic is the top feeder series to Champ Car, and this will definitely help prepare me for the Formula Palmer Audi car in England."
Added Barrett: "It will be a great experience to drive an Atlantic car with the power equivalent to the Formula Palmer Audi. This will be great preparation for Joel and I before we go to England for the Autumn Trophy."
The first Team USA Scholarship was awarded in 1990. Past winners include Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger.