Skip Barber isn’t new to SRO America, having joined as the series’ official racing school in 2019. Now they have stepped up their efforts to competition level with a number of entries in TC America under the Skip Barber Race Team. Offering their drivers opportunities to graduate from the Formula Race Series and into pro racing, the Skip Barber Race Team proved to be a success from the start of the 2021 TC America powered by Skip Barber season at Sonoma. We sat down with Joe Monitto, Chief Revenue Officer, to discuss the program.
Tell us about the decision to have Skip Barber offer a path to have graduates move into professional racing in the TC America series?
Skip Barber has been the gateway to motorsports since 1975. We re-launched our Formula Race Series in 2020 to offer our racers with a school series to continue their development through our open wheel system. Between our Race Team and partnership with TC America, we want to provide drivers just starting their careers with the tools they need to transition to pro racer.
Our Race Team was developed to offer our students with a turn-key opportunity to transition from student to pro-racer, and the TC America paddock is the perfect environment. We can offer our drivers with holistic on-going development through our driver coaches, human performance coaches and industry mentors, and introduce them to a pro race series. The combination of our HPD Civic TCA and TC race cars with the highly competitive field afforded by the series gives our drivers the perfect environment to develop the skills required to move to higher levels of motorsports.
Talk to us about how the TC and TCA divisions, as well as the Skip Barber team as a whole, performed all weekend in ostensibly the first professional-level race as a team.
We couldn’t be prouder of this brand-new pro racing team and the performance displayed during our debut weekend at the season opener. This being their first time working together, the team was faced with working through some new processes and approaches, but the crew quickly found their flow and made it seamless. Operationally and logistically, the Skip Barber Race Team benefitted from the deep experience and talent engrained from hundreds of reps of related activities from the many Racing Schools conducted on a near weekly basis.
Another key advantage for the Skip Barber team is the depth of Instructor talent within the company who have been able to provide focused personal coaching and driver development progression over the last few months. Even accomplished driver-instructors benefit from the personalized feedback that comes with coaching.
Running two TC Class HPD Type Rs and two TCA Class HPD Civics, all cars were essentially brand new with minimal developmental testing done prior to Sonoma. The solid and consistent performance throughout the weekend was a testament to the performance and quality of the car HPD has created for its turnkey race car models.
What’s your take on the drivers’ performances during the season opening rounds at Sonoma Raceway?
Eric Powell gave Skip Barber Racing School its first pro race win with a decisive victory in Race 1. However, Race 2 may become the most noteworthy with his incredible drive after taking damage at the start of the race. With his right rear spring ejected from the impact, Powell went on to masterfully defend 2nd position for the rest of the race effectively on 3 wheels until the final few laps where he narrowly lost two places to finish in 4th.
We are thrilled with Lindsay Brewer’s debut performance in TC America with the Skip Barber Race Team. Her competitive pace was very consistent and lap after lap and helped showcase the natural talent of this young rising star. She has spent many days with our Skip Barber Instructors with coaching over the last few months and her progression has been impressive. With unlimited potential, we are excited to have Lindsay race a double-header at COTA as she competes in both the TC America and Skip Barber Formula series events in the same weekend.
Carter Fartuch’s first dry laps in the new Civic Si were at Sonoma, also a new track, making his tremendous driving performance in both races noteworthy. Though an accomplished racer in previous seasons with other series, his ability to immediately start laying down competitive laps is a testament to his natural talents.
Mike Stillwagon likewise had no testing time in the Civic Si and still leveraged his deep experience as a longtime Racing Instructor and Master Mechanic to give the team expert feedback and data to further assist in chassis setup development.
Is there any more information on what you'd like to accomplish or see happen in Touring Car, or perhaps even other levels, for the Race Program?
We are excited to expand the concept of the Touring Car Academy – an efficient pathway for an aspiring racer to get licensed, access track time for development, and join a TC race team. The Academy will offer all drivers in the TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School series with on-going support within the paddock to help each driver maximize their careers with driver coaching, human performance coaching and industry mentorship.
To learn more about Skip Barber and their TC America efforts, visit https://www.skipbarber.com/race-team-tc/.