14th Annual Skip Barber Karting Shootout
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts development ladder open-wheel racing springboard

Conducted over four days in December at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 14th Annual Skip Barber Karting Shootout proved to be motorsports nirvana for a lucky group of aspiring young racers.

The Shootout attracted 44 exceptionally talented karters who competed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for more than $200,000 in scholarships to further their motorsports career, courtesy of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development and the FIA Motor Sport Safety Development Fund.

It was no easy task for the panel of judges including Skip Barber Racing School instructors, Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw, and Speed Channel personality Bob Varsha.

In the end Trent Hindman, 15, of Wayside, New Jersey and 17-year-old Danilo Estrela of Long Branch, New Jersey were the biggest winners of the weekend, each receiving a scholarship to compete in the full 2011 season of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda valued at $52,000 each. Both young drivers showed incredible skill both on and off the track, applying feedback and improving their on-track performance.

Fifteen-year old Tristan Nunez of Boca Raton, Florida won a scholarship for half of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda 2011 season while 17-year-old Canadian Stefan Rzadzinski received a full season in the Skip Barber Regional Race Series.

There were three drivers that showed equal levels of talent and each were given three half seasons in the Skip Barber Regional Race Series: 16-year-old Californian Kenton Koch, 15-year-old Canadian Scott Hargrove, and 14-year-old Californian Kyle Kaiser.

This was of course, no easy choice to make. Each karter was evaluated and every time sheet scrutinized.

“As a father of a young driver who has been through the Barber system,” says Varsha, “I’d like to think I had a special feel for what the family goes through in a competition as tough as this one. I have to say selecting the winners from a field of young drivers is among the hardest things I have to do because I know how much it means to every one of them. Still there’s a lot of satisfaction in helping somebody.”

Overall, the 14th Annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout was a great success. Forty-four young karters learned skills that will not only save their lives but help advance their careers.

“It’s what we’re all about,” said Michael Culver CEO of Skip Barber Racing School. “We’re about teaching people how to drive better and it was very rewarding to see how quickly these kids got up to speed. Racing’s in our DNA. This is the most important event on our calendar. It proves the fact that our system works.”

With the help of Dean Case from Mazda, Derek Daly, Bob Varsha, Jeremy Shaw and Skip Barber Racing School, these karters have bettered themselves as athletes and aspiring professional race car drivers.

“There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction from being involved in a program like this,” said Jeremy Shaw. “The overall quality of the drivers was very impressive. The Skip Barber Racing School organization does an awful lot of good for drivers young and old and it’s good to see so much being put back into the sport.”

Remember these names, because if these talented hot-shoes continue up the MAZDASPEED Driver Development Ladder they could very well be drinking milk in the Indy 500 winner’s circle someday.