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25 August 2005

Red Bull Driver Search

The Australian who makes it through to the Red Bull Formula BMW test in Portugal might be up against some of these drivers from the United States.

Above: East Coast USA Red Bull Driver Search Finalists with Winner Casey Neal

Above: The start of the selections Final

Rotax Press Release

BRP-Rotax karts chosen by the " Red Bull Driver Search USA " for their National selections

The exciting and highly promising 2005 edition of the "Red Bull Driver Search USA" program has made its final two National selections. Launched in 2002, this program is designed to help the most promising American race car drivers - such as Scott Speed - to reach the pinnacle of international motor sport. The selection of the East Coast drivers was made on July 19, 20 and 21 on Boston F1's karting track near Boston while the West Coast selection took place on Infineon Raceway's facility in California, August 9, 10 and 11. Only ten of the 200 young drivers who were invited to participate in this initial selection were chosen to participate in the semi-finals to be held aboard open-wheel race cars in Sebring, Florida in September. Finally, the overall winner will be invited to compete in the grand finals scheduled on October 3 and 4 in Estoril, Portugal.

The initial selection started with 200 participants, all aged between 13 and 17 who displayed their driving talents behind the wheels of Rotax Max karts specially prepared by Rotax SSC, Rotax's distributor in the U.S. The fastest lap times determined the ten most promising drivers from the East and the West coasts who then continued the contest aboard Rotax RM1 shifter karts.

Again, only lap times were monitored to make the cut. The level of physical fitness, the general abilities and the overall knowledge of the participants will be evaluated and scored later during the semi-finals. It became quickly evident that the BRP-Rotax karts suited perfectly the demands of young drivers who are enrolled in a development program. These racing machines supplied by BRP are fast, reliable and deliver constant performance - three crucial aspects in a development series. It is not surprising to see that the top-level race car drivers all raced karts at one point in their careers. It is by far the best and most affordable racing school one can find, and BRP-Rotax is proud to provide a racing kart that is perfectly suited to the strict requirements of a grass root series.

Former race car driver Danny Sullivan, today a freelancer who has been hired as a talent spotter in the "Red Bull Driver Search USA" program was favorably impressed by the Rotax karts. Sullivan, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, had 17 Indy Car career wins and ranked among the career leaders in race victories, poles, earnings, winning percentage, and top five finishes. Throughout his racing career he is best known for his performances in Formula One, Indy Car and Le Mans Sports Cars.

"My job consists in evaluating carefully the finalists, especially those who will compete in the semi-finals in Sebring," said Sullivan during the drivers' selection in Boston. "I drove a Rotax RM1 kart myself. I was tremendously impressed by its speed! Six years ago, I contested the famed Paris-Bercy indoor kart race. I must admit that today's karts are better suited to the demands to modern racing. The RM1 has massive grip. It is a fantastic and impressive machine to drive. Everyone agrees that every aspiring race car driver must race karts at one point. I must say that the Rotax kart is extremely well suited to modern motor sport. The RM1 is fitted with a two-speed gearbox while the Rotax Max Senior and Junior are equipped with a centrifugal clutch that allow the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all time. Therefore, the driver can fully focus on his or her driving. This kind of kart is just perfect."

The first finalist selected, Casey Neal was honored to have made the National selection. "My selection in the Red Bull Driver Search program is the most exciting thing that happened in my short career," said Neal. "It is a truly professional organization. The Rotax Max and RM1 karts allowed me to shine in this competition. The karts performed really well in the final race. The grip is simply outstanding. The engines are powerful and amazingly reliable."

Above: Red Bull Rotax RM1s

The BRP-Rotax company is particularly proud that their products, the Rotax RF125 and the Rotax RM1 were the primary choice of karts made by the "Red Bull Driver Search USA" committee. "We always knew that our products were perfectly suited to the demands of competitors who want to make a career in motor sport as well as those who race for the fun of it," said Manfred Wei▀gaerber, Marketing Manager at Austria-based BRP-Rotax. "Our fine products are distributed in 70 countries and on the five continents. Since 2000, the BRP-Rotax Karting Center is organizing several race series called "Rotax Max Challenges" and held throughout the world. This year, more than 40 different countries host a national Rotax Max Challenge. At the end of the season, the 136 best national competitors from around the globe will be invited to compete in the World Finals scheduled November 21-27 in Langkawi, Malaysia. Finally, we started last year to stage a European Challenge that is made of four meetings presented in four different countries."

The Vision of Red Bull Driver Search USA
The Formula 1 Championship is without doubt, the most celebrated and prestigious title in world motor sport. With TV viewership on par with only the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics, (both of which only occur every 4 years) it is safe to say that Formula 1 is the biggest sport in the world. The title is contested during 19 Grand Prix events staged on 5 continents, with each race attracting more than 120,000 spectators to the grandstands for a view of the live action. At the same time, in 150 countries worldwide, more than 350 million TV viewers tune in to watch each race, generating yearly revenues of up to $2 billion in TV rights and advertising time. Yet, there is no American presence in Formula 1, there are no American drivers; no American teams. Red Bull has a vision to change that in a relatively short time frame by finding the next American driver and ultimately starting the first ever All American Formula 1 Team. Highlighted by its recent acquisition of a Formula 1 team, Red Bull has made the dramatic commitment to finding the next American Formula 1 World Champion.

The East coast finalists are:
Casey Neal, Middletown, OH (17 years old)
Chris Keller, Green Brook, NJ (17 years old)
Logan Gomez, Crown Point, IN (16 years old)
Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, IL (14 years old)
Justin Larson, Safety Harbor, FL (17 years old)

The West coast finalists are:
Matt Hauff, Rohnert Park, CA (16 years old)
Ryan Phinny, Carmel Valley, CA (16 years old)
Paul Zimmerly, Ridgefield, WA (17 years old)
Michelle Bumgarner, Makati City, Philippines (15 years old)
Alexander Rossi, Nevada City, CA (13 years old)

September 13 to 15 Sebring, Florida, USA

October 3-4 Estoril, Portugal

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