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SEPTEMBER 13, 1999

An American in Formula 3000

OUR spies in Dearborn tell us that Ford is pushing ahead with an ambitious plan to enter a team in Formula 3000 next year to support the Jaguar F1 operation. Logically this would also be Jaguar-branded. The intention however is not so much to extend the sponsorship but rather to use the operation as a way of training up at least one young American driver so he will be able to graduate to the F1 team in 2001 or 2002.

Our spies tell us that the most likely arrangement is that Paul Stewart will run the Formula 3000 team which will be based on the old Paul Stewart Racing operation which was discontinued when Stewart Grand Prix was launched in 1997. The Formula 3000 entries are, of course, restricted to the top 14 teams in this year's series and the top team from the ItalianÊnationalÊFormula 3000 series. Thus if Ford wants a Formula 3000 operation it will need to acquire one. The logical route would be for the company to do a deal with David Richards - who is currently running the Arden Motorsport entry which has qualified for the 2000 season thanks to Marc Goossens's third place at the Magny-Cours event in July. Prior to suddenly buying Arden in October last year, Richards had never been involved in running a single-seater operation. At the time we speculated that there might be long-term plans for the team to become a Ford junior team.

The big question for Ford is who would be the best driver - or drivers - to use and we have heard suggestions that Ford is looking carefully at young Americans racing in the Toyota Atlantic Series. There are several youngsters who might fit the bill, notably Alex Gurney (son of former F1 driver Dan Gurney), Buddy Rice and Matt Sielsky (who has had some limited experience in European racing). The obvious candidate however is Elton Julian from Beverly Hills, California. He has only just turned 25 but raced in British Formula 3 as long ago as 1992. He then switched to the French Formula 3 Championship in which he finished third in 1993. The following season he struggled for money but had an encouraging Formula 1 test with Larrousse at Paul Ricard. The team was hoping to sign him up as a test driver for 1995 but went out of business before a deal could be done. Julian returned to Europe in 1996 having raised the money to do a season of Formula 3000 with Nordic Racing. Money remains a problem but he is now racing in the Toyota Atlantic series.