The pair will follow in the footsteps of an accomplished list of former winners, including 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser (who won the inaugural Team USA Scholarship in 1990); Champ Car and IRL race winner and current American Le Mans Series contender Bryan Herta (1991); Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series standouts Memo Gidley (1995), Paul Edwards (1998) and Andy Lally (1999); 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice (1997); this year’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler (2000); Champ Car race winner-turned NASCAR Nextel Cup competitor A.J. Allmendinger (2001) and current Star Mazda Championship leader Dane Cameron (2006).
This year’s candidates are:
Patrick Barrett, 17, from Los Osos, Calif. Dominated the 2006 Jim Russell School Series and won both races on his Pacific F2000 debut at Infineon Raceway. Leads 2007 Pacific F2000 series with five wins, three seconds from 8 races.
Thomas Merrill, 21, from Salinas, Calif. Raced in the SCCA Formula Continental class last season and now has stepped up to the Pacific F2000 Championship. Scored his first win recently at Miller Motorsports Park.
Joel Miller, 19, from Hesperia, Calif. Ranked as the nation’s top ICA karter the last few years. Made a stunning F2000 debut in 2004 (aged 15!) with a win and a second. Currently leads the Skip Barber National Championship.
Cole Morgan, 19, from Lighthouse Point, Fla. Excelled in SCCA Formula Continental with an aged Swift DB-6. Started 2007 in Star Mazda before returning to F2000; is a leading contender in the East Coast-based professional series.
Josef Newgarden, 16, from Henderson, Tenn. Has won two races as a rookie in this year’s Skip Barber National Championship. Currently fifth in the point standings. Also races successfully in karts.
Alexander Rossi, 15, from Nevada City, Calif. Won a karting scholarship and finished third in ‘06 Skip Barber National Championship (three wins). Also ran a partial season of Formula TR (four wins). Now racing in Formula BMW.
Ricky Taylor, 17, from Apopka, Fla. Won a karting scholarship to contest 2007 Skip Barber National Championship. Currently third in points with one win. Also impressed in a one-off Pacific F2000 race.
The judging panel included Vasser, Champ Car team owner Dale Coyne, Pacific Coast Motorsports (Champ Car) team manager Tyler Tadevic, vintage racer/businessman Doug Mockett, driver manager Will Prappas, renowned journalists David Phillips (RACER) and David Malsher (Autosport), and Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw.
Team USA Scholarship supporters include Doug Mockett & Company, a Torrance, Calif.-based producer and supplier of "Fine Architectural Hardware For Your Fine Furniture," American Honda, Snap-on Tools, "Stars of Karting," Sparco USA, RACER magazine, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group, The Print Network and an array of past Scholarship winners.