Team USA Scholarship Names Six Candidates for Auto Club Speedway Shootout

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Six young American drivers will converge on Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., next Monday, September 8, for a shootout to determine who will represent the Team USA Scholarship in the traditional Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, England, later in the fall.

This will be 25th year the scholarship has assisted promising American youngsters at an early stage in their careers. Jimmy Vasser was awarded the inaugural Team USA Scholarship in 1990. Subsequent winners have included Bryan Herta (1991), Buddy Rice (1997), A.J. Allmendinger (2001), Charlie Kimball (2003), J.R. Hildebrand (2005), Dane Cameron (2006), Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly (2008), Spencer Pigot (2010/2011) and Tristan Nunez and Matthew Brabham (2012).

This year’s candidates are:
•    Ben Auriemma, 16, from Manhasset, N.Y. – currently competing in the Skip Barber Summer Series (4 wins)
•    Tristan DeGrand, 18, from St. Louis, Mo. – leads two Canadian F1600 Championships (16 wins)
•    Kenton Koch (pronounced “Cook”), 20, from Glendora, Calif. – SCCA Mazda MX-5 Cup points leader (6 wins)
•    Garth Rickards, 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pa. – currently second in the F1600 Championship Series (8 podiums)
•    Michai (“Muh-KIE”) Stephens, 22, from Evanston, Ill. – competes in the Skip Barber Summer Series (4 wins)
•    Aaron Telitz, 22, from Birchwood, Wis. – finished fourth, Rookie of the Year in USF2000 (1 win, 6 podiums)

The shootout will be conducted on the Auto Club Speedway infield road course aboard FR1600 cars provided by Allen Berg Racing Schools, owned by Canadian ex-Formula 1 racer Allen Berg, and running on Cooper tires.

More information here via the Team USA Scholarship website.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

F1 Grand Prix of Germany
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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski