2009 Skip Barber Alumni Year in Review

Friday, December 04, 2009 2009 was another strong year for Skip Barber Racing School trained drivers and Race Series veterans. While the stories of our National and Regional seasons can be found here, our alum went out and proved once again that Skip Barber Racing School trains the best drivers in the world. Here are just some of the highlights.

• Perhaps the biggest splash of the year came late in the season with 2009 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda Champion Connor De Phillippi became the youngest ever winner of the Walter Hayes Trophy when he picked up the victory at the Formula Ford event at England’s Silverstone Circuit. He broke the record for youngest winner set last year by… 2008 Skip Barber National Champ Conor Daly, who backed up his championship with a strong third place in this year’s Star Mazda Championship.

• Fellow Team USA Scholarship driver (and Skip Barber National race winner) Brett Smrz impressed as well in England, coming back from early problems and reaching the finals through the “Last Chance Race” to score a fine fourth in the Kent Class, after starting 28th, at the Formula Ford Festival. Smrz then went on to dominate the Jim Russell Championship Series at California’s Infineon Raceway, winning the championship despite missing three races.

• Runner up in last year’s Skip Barber National and 2008 Formula Ford Festival Kent Class champion Josef Newgarden impressed in his first season in British Formula Ford, picking up nine wins, 16 total podiums, finishing second in the final standings and earning Rookie of the Year honors. After the season, Newgarden was announced as the winner of the 17th annual Gorsline Company scholarship.

• 2008 Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge champion Justin Piscitell, continued his meteoric rise, claiming second place in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup and earning Rookie of the Year honors.

• 2003 Skip Barber National Champion Raphael Matos continued his rise in professional racing, earning Rookie of the Year honors in this year’s Indycar Series.

• 2006 Skip Barber National competitor Alexander Rossi, finished fourth in International Formula Masters, garnering Rookie of the Year honors in the process. Rossit followed this up with a fifth place in his GP2 Asia Series debut at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

• We at Skip Barber virtually watched John Edwards grow up before our eyes (he actually started racing with us at the tender age of 12), so we’re really excited that he was able to back up last year’s Star Mazda championship with this year’s Atlantic Championship title, beating out another Skip Barber alum, Jonathan Summerton, for the title at the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

• Another Skip Barber Race Series driver on the Regional and National level, Daniel Herrington, picked up his first Firestone Indy Lights win for Bryan Herta Autosport in August at Chicagoland Speedway.

• Earlier in the year, former Pro Series driver Townsend Bell led the Skip Barber contingent at this year’s Indianapolis 500 with a 4th.

• Jeff Gordon (3-Day Racing School), Juan Pablo Montoya (Barber Pro Series) made the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race to the Chase, while A.J. Allmendinger, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Scott Speed continued their stock car maturation. A more recent 3-Day Racing School grad, Joey Logano, picked up his first Sprint Cup win in New Hampshire, earned Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors and while he was at it picked up five Nationwide Series wins.

• Barber Pro Series alum and 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion Kenny Brдck returned to racing and picked up the upset win in Rally at X-Games 15, beating out such rally stars as Ken Block, Travis Pastrana and Tanner Faust in the process .

• Skip Barber Race Series veteran and Grand Am driver Mark Patterson earned his second Jim Truman Award for being the top sportsman racer in Daytona Prototypes.

This is a pretty full list, but if you believe we missed someone please drop us at a line at [email protected], we will look into it and update as necessary.

Jim Altemus

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