2011 “F2 Prize Drive" Lure Set To Fill Jim Russell Series Grid

Thursday, January 21, 2010 12:19PM In The News

2011 “F2 PRIZE DRIVE” LURE SET TO FILL JIM RUSSELL SERIES GRID

* 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series title winner gets fully-funded F2 “seat”
* Future Driver Search winners Carlton and Ellis confirmed for 16-race series
* Team USA Scholarship winner Smrz returning to compete for European series attraction

The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School organization welcomes the new decade in terrific style by opening entries and confirming details for its 2010 Championship Series that sees the champion earn himself a fully funded drive in next year’s FIA Formula Two Championship.

The 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series features eight weekends comprising of two races staged on consecutive days between April-November utilizing a variety of configurations at the challenging Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, CA) – a venue which features Jim Russell Racing Drivers School’s multi-million dollar facility.

The FJR-50 single-seaters are owned and prepared “in house” by the Jim Russell Championship Series ensuring equality and placing the emphasis of success on driver talent. The Lola-built Formula Three machines feature a carbon/kevlar fiber composite monocoque, a sequential five-speed gearbox and a two-liter, turbocharged Mitsubishi engine producing 300bhp.

Gary Carlton (Marysville, CA) and Alex Ellis (St Catharines, Ontario, Canada) are already confirmed on the grid having last month (22 Dec) been chosen as the winners of the inaugural Jim Russell Future Driver Search by double Le Mans 24 Hour sportscar race winner, Allan McNish, and his fellow judges, while Brett Smrz (Coeur d' Alene, ID), winner of the Jim Russell series for the past two years, has been tempted back by the phenomenal prize on offer.

The outright JRCS champion will compete in the 2011 FIA Formula Two series, a European-based series launched last year and featuring a Williams F1 developed single-seater. Inaugural 2009 FIA Formula Two Champion Andy Soucek (Sp) was awarded a test with the Williams F1 team last month as his prize for winning the F2 title and is now set to become the team’s official test driver. Indeed the top-three F2 Championship finishers qualify for an FIA Superlicence and thus are eligible to compete in Formula One.

“The addition of the Formula Two award to our series champion firmly sets the Jim Russell Championship Series as the premier developmental formula car series that provides an excellent path to the upper echelons of motorsport at an amazingly modest cost,” said Chip Pankow, President of the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School.

“Our series has been designed to foster and identify talent with the emphasis on value for money. Our philosophy is that a career in motorsports should be as merit-based as possible, not purely a financial equation.”

The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School was formed in Britain over 50 years ago helping to put Emerson Fittipaldi, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Scott Speed, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve on the road to success. More recently 2009 Indy Lights champion J. R. Hildebrand (Sausalito, CA), the 2002 Jim Russell “Arrive and Drive” Sprint Kart Series and 2004 JRCS Champion, successfully tested for the Force India Formula One team last month.

The School offers a complete driver training program courtesy of some of the finest coaches in the world while the cost for a “seat” in the 2010 JRCS is $129,000 – which could, should he or she win the title, lead to a fully funded F2 drive in 2011 that is costing over $440,000 this year.

McNish commented: “The 2010 JRCS will be an exciting competition. The standard of drivers at Jim Russell’s Future Driver Search event last month was extremely high and with ultimate winners Gary [Carlton] and Alex [Ellis] joining double JRCS champion Brett [Smrz], plus the other competitors, guarantees it’ll be a hard fought 16-race series.

“They’ll all be fighting for the title and the stunning prize of a fully paid F2 drive in 2011 that offers a clear plan for a driver and the prospect of knocking on the door of Formula One."

“The FJR-50 is essentially a F3 chassis with high downforce and 300bhp and is a perfect platform to develop a driver’s talent. With a ‘common’ chassis, each prepared to the same specification, allows for a driver’s skills to shine through."

“The championship offers great value for money giving every driver a development program, both in and out of the cockpit, plus a clear career direction through to the very top for today’s aspiring young drivers helping them on the road to becoming tomorrow’s champions.”

Ellis (age 18) commented: "My goal is to be fully prepared for the opening races enabling me to drive to my full potential and to capture the championship title and the prestigious FIA Formula Two ride.”

Carlton (age 23) added: “I’m fully aware this will be the first time I’ve ever raced this type of racing car. If I get a good amount of testing under my belt before the first race I’m confident I will have a good shot at winning the championship which is of course my aim.”

Meanwhile 2008 & ’09 JRCS champion Smrz (19 next month), who earned himself a Team USA Scholarship last season, remarked: “The F2 prize will allow a driver to compete in Europe – essential if you want to make a career as an open wheel racer. It’s a great opportunity for me and I am going to go after the championship with everything I've got.

“The FJR-50 cars are brilliant and are very even – you ‘draw’ a different car to race on Saturday and Sunday. But it’s the same chassis, the same engine, and the same [Yokohama] tires for everyone – the only difference is the person behind the wheel."

“Infineon is one of the hardest tracks in North America but the series helpfully allows you to compare data with Chief Instructor Nico Rondet so you can learn what you are doing wrong in the car, and importantly, what you are doing right!"

“The championship is organized extremely well – a driver arrives at the track, hops in the car and races, and then goes home. A nice and simple ‘arrive and drive’ system.”

Each race weekend begins with practice and qualifying sessions (both 30-minutes) with the first race lasting 25-minutes. The second day features a 30-minute practice session, two-lap qualification run prior to a 30-minute race. Points are awarded for the top-10 finishes with 12pts going to the winner.

2010 Jim Russell Championship Series (JRCS)

17-18 April: Rds 1/2.
8-9 May: Rds 3/4.
12-13 June: Rds 5/6.
10-11 July: Rds 7/8.
7-8 August: Rds 9/10.
11-12 Sep: Rds 11/12.
16-17 Oct: Rds 13/14.
12-13 Nov: Rds 15/16.

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