Who will Red Bull pick in America?

Patrick Long

Patrick Long 

 © Jakob Ebry, www.jakobebrey.com

The Red Bull F1 Driver Search initiative will be presented to the world on Thursday, September 26 at the United States Grand Prix and Danny Sullivan is promising to reveal the names of the 15 to 20 young American racers who will be given the chance to win the Red Bull sponsorship deals in Europe and ultimately represent the United States in Formula 1 at some point in the future.

After the event at Indianapolis the drivers will go to France for evaluation testing and then decisions will be made. The big question is who will be on the list and with the help of Red Bull - which may soon be a Formula 1 team owner - there is much excitement amongst the young US drivers.

We sent out our spies to look at Americans racing at the moment and these are our conclusions as to who some of the candidates are likely to be.

The obvious choice is California's Patrick Long. The 21-year-old is winning in Formula Renault this year in Britain after a very successful career in British Formula Ford. He already has a good understanding of what it takes to make it in Europe and showed his mettle earlier this year by walking out of a deal Manor Motorsport because he felt he was not getting the right treatment. He now races from Richard Dutton's Fortec and his obvious next step would be in Formula 3.

AJ Allmendinger is another Californian youngster. The 20-year-old has completely dominated the 2002 Barber Pro Series, despite the fact that he has no family money behind him. He was, however, supported in karting by Paul Tracy who obviously recognized the talent. If picked he will have to decide between racing in Europe or taking up a good drive Stateside, probably in the Toyota Atlantic series.

Florida's Ryan Hunter-Reay is also expected to be a candidate. The 21-year-old is expected to win the Toyota Atlantic title this year, despite some mechanical problems. His next step would logically be into CART and so the idea of going to Europe and struggling through the junior formulae might not appeal to him. Another Toyota Atlantic driver who might get a chance is Rocky Moran Jr. who has been struggling for cash this year but won when he finally had a good car. The is 21 and also from California.

There are several other West Coast racers who will probably be taken into account including Charlie Kimball, the 18-year-old son of former McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton F1 engineer/designer Gordon Kimball. He did well in karting and is now successful in both Formula Ford and in Barber Dodge racing.

There are three other Californians who could get the call although all of them are rather older than their rivals. Paul Edwards showed well in British races while Joey Hand was a leading Toyota Atlantic contender until a nasty accident in testing put him out of action for the year. There is also Phil Giebler, who was a leading light in the Elf/La Filiere program before racing in Class B of the French Formula 3 series. Unable to raise money to go further up the racing ladder Giebler has been racing in Spanish Formula 3 this year.

The Midwest also has some talents worth considering, notably Bryan Sellers (20), a well-supported youngster from Ohio who is in line to win the USF2000 Championship this year. Another Ohio native who might be listed is Clint Field, the 19-year-old son of sports prototype driver and team owner Jon Field. Jon Morley (21) is another Ohian who could figure ont he list. He narrowly missed being the Barber Pro Series rookie of the year in 2001.

Grant Maiman (22) from Wisconsin might also be considered as he is leading the Formula Dodge National series. Indiana will almost certainly have at least one candidate in the selection with kart racer Tony Loniewsky, expected to be the one of the finalists.

Another karter who could be considered is Joe d'Agostino, a 17-year-old Floridian and the son of Indy Car race engineer Louis d'Agostino. The engineering connection means that he has a very good understanding of how to set up cars and because of time spent around the racing scene knows what it takes to be competitive - even in the tough world of European racing. Another Floridian worthy of mention is 19-year-old Scott Poirier, who races in the Barber Dodge National Series.

There are one or two other, slightly older drivers, who might be considered, notably Josh Rehm of Massachusetts.

These are just guesses. Some will no doubt not make the initial selection but between them they illustrate the depth of talent that is available in the United States for Formula 1 in the years ahead.

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