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Many Indy 500 Stars Jump-Started Career in Skip Barber Schools, Racing Series

Quick: What is a common thread among at least 10 of the 33 drivers who raced in the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in May 2019?

Easy answers: They’re NTT IndyCar Series drivers, among the best in the world at their chosen craft. They’re brave and talented people, racing wheel to wheel at 225 mph in the most prestigious race in the world.

All true. But here’s another to add to the list: They’re all graduates of competition in Skip Barber racing series, with many first learning the skills of racecraft through the Skip Barber Racing School.

Among the names on the list of Skip Barber series graduates who raced this May at Indy are Marco Andretti, Conor Daly, Santino Ferrucci, Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Spencer Pigot and Alexander Rossi. Most in this group also attended the Skip Barber Racing School, learning the racecraft and other skills needed to compete in the series.

It’s a continuation of a long-standing trend. Nearly one-third of the starters in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge over the last 30 years are graduates of the Skip Barber Racing School.

The iconic Skip Barber Racing School (SBRS) is coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time Oct. 8-18, offering three levels of instruction for aspiring race car drivers or experienced racers looking to advance their skills at the Racing Capital of the World.

Founded in 1975, SBRS is one of the largest racing instructional schools in the world and has provided on-track and classroom education for some of the greatest drivers in nearly all disciplines of North American and global motorsports.

“It was the school I learned to drive a Formula car at, which is pretty cool,” two-time and reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Newgarden said. “I think in all sports that’s kind of the process. You would think that if you have the talent that nobody has to teach you how to do this, but that’s the opposite of the truth. Even if you’re the most talented person in the world, you still go through the process of learning how to do it.

“A place like Skip Barber, they teach you from that very early onset of your beginning to how to really go through it and how to learn the right things as far as approaching a race car, how you drive it and how you set it up. It was a really fun experience for me when I was young, and I was just learning how to drive a car. They had a really good school to teach you how to transition into that.”

SBRS will offer One Day and Three Day Racing Schools and a Two-Day Advanced Race Licensing school each of 11 consecutive days on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course. Instruction is available to individuals, as well as groups or corporate event attendees.

Registration and more information are available at www.skipbarber.com/IMS.

The One Day Racing School is the perfect program for the person new to racing. This day-long experience allows the driver to experience SBRS’ track-prepared school cars on the racetrack.

This school begins with an in-depth classroom session instructing about the racing line and vehicle dynamics. The program rapidly picks up the pace as students experience the thrill of these high-horsepower, high-grip race cars with lead follow laps on the racetrack.

The Three Day Racing School is every driver’s gateway to motorsports and racing. This is SBRS’ signature product – with a curriculum that combines classroom sessions with practical, hands-on seat time. The Three Day Racing School is a prerequisite for racers interested in obtaining a club, professional or international racing license.

In this unique program, students master the fundamentals of racing in classroom and driving sessions. The cars used in the program are track-prepared School Cars. The School Car has braking and cornering capabilities that vastly exceed any street or sports car.

The Two Day Advanced Racing School picks up right where the Three Day Racing School leaves off and helps the participant transition from student to racer. In this school, students can polish their developed skills, while adding speed and consistency. In addition to on-track instruction from world-renowned instructors, drivers go wheel-to-wheel against the instructors to practice race situations and hone their racecraft.

Training in the Advanced Racing School prepares graduates for competition in Skip Barber-sanctioned series, if desired. Andretti, Daly, Hunter-Reay and Pigot all won Skip Barber national championship series after participating in SBRS, providing a springboard into higher echelons of formula-car racing and leading them into the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system and NTT IndyCar Series.

Newgarden just missed a Skip Barber national title, finishing second in 2008. But the experience and success gained in the series helped him climb to British Formula Ford competition in 2009 and GP3 racing in Europe in 2010, and win the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship in 2011.

“Skip Barber was a very good transition,” Newgarden said. “It was probably one of the best places as a junior driver. You could go from karting to race cars and start that process of working your way up to IndyCar, hopefully.”

 
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