Salem, NH – F1600, F2000 and Atlantic Series competitors are set for their 2016 Formula Race Promotions season opener at Road Atlanta this weekend, April 7-10. Returning drivers are set to battle with the latest set of rookies, with all three categories showing strength heading into the first of seven weekends.
An entirely new set of talent will run three F1600 races in the season-opening triple-header at Road Atlanta. A strong entry list is also a new entry list, with only one returning driver with wins in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series – Steve Bamford. Calvin Ming, however, will be back with Team Pelfrey and swept the winter exhibition events in Florida this past February.
Among other returning drivers are Will Harvey and Ben Auriemma, who have found their way to Exclusive Autosport and will be joined by Trenton Estep, Ryan Bjerke and Dexter Czuba.
K-Hill Motorsports, which fielded multiple winning cars in 2015, will line up Hans Ada, Peter Portante and Neil Verhagen in a trio of Mygale/Hondas, while Team Pelfrey’s Ming will be joined by Phillippe Denes.
At Raceworks, Laura Hayes will make her series debut alongside veteran Sam Lockwood, who is part of the Masters Class, with returning drivers Mike Scanlan and Douglas Voss, in addition to Joel Haas, also a newcomer to F1600 competition.
Finally, after racing in F1600 in 2014, Max Mallinen makes an expected competitive return with Swan Motorsports. Mallinen recently ran a number of SCCA Majors in 2015, the Runoffs and select F1600 events in Canada.
The F2000 Series shares a similar story to F1600 coming into the Road Atlanta, with only two drivers on the entry list with wins in F2000 competition: David Grant and Steve Bamford, who become early Championship favorites along with John McCusker and Brandon Dixon, who return after solid 2015 seasons.
F2000 will run two races at Road Atlanta to open its seven-weekend/14-race season.
Jenna Grillio will make her first start in F2000 pro competition in the No. 15 K-Hill Motorsports entry, and Jayson Clunie will make his Series debut for Exclusive Autosport in the No. 93 Spectrum.
A number of Series veterans are returning in 2016 to compete in the Masters Classm but also challenge for the overall podium including multiple-time National Champion David Weitzenhof; former Masters Class Champion Tom Fatur; Bob Reid, in the Metrik chassis from R-Sport; Brent Gilkes in his black No. 7 Van Diemen; as well as Dan Denison, who is teaming with Grant for another season at Polestar.
Other entries include Steve Jenks, in the No. 68, in addition to Brendan Puderbach and Charles Finelli.
Two Radon chassis are listed for the weekend, with Peter Gonzalez in the No. 16 and Robert Wright in the No. 90.
The fastest class of the Road Atlanta weekend will see Keith Grant start his Atlantic Championship title-defense bid in the No. 40 Swift 016/Mazda for Polestar.
Grant was solidly in control of the 2015 Atlantic season, taking multiple wins. Some of his main competition this time will include newcomer Ryan Norman, from K-Hill Motorsports, who has put together a string of Atlantic victories in winter SCCA races and both Formula Race Promotions exhibitions held in Florida.
Other newcomers on the entry list for the double-race weekend include Lee Alexander, Kirk Kindsfater and Johnpaul Ciancimino, while series regulars Bruce Hamilton and Lewis Cooper, Jr. return for the 2016 opener.
Comprent Motorsports will return with the same three drivers from 2015, with Richard Zober lining up with Chris Ash and Bob Corliss.
The big news for the 2016 Atlantic season is a format change. The field will be split into two groups, the Atlantic Championship Series for Swift 016/Mazda and Honda entries, and the Atlantic Challenge for all other Atlantic cars. Both the Atlantic Championship Series and Atlantic Challenge will have separate overall podium ceremonies for the top three finishers, as well as a trophy for the first place Masters Class driver (ages 50 and older).
Formula Race Promotions will offer competitors a full unofficial test day on Thursday, while Friday will start official practice and Saturday and Sunday pick up with qualifying and races on each day.