Salem, NH – The first weekend in July at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is quickly becoming a rite of passage for competitors in the F1600, F2000 and Atlantic Championship Series, which will see the midpoints of their seasons run this weekend at the Lexington, Ohio facility with a large turnout of open-wheel race cars expected in a Formula Race Promotions hosted weekend at the 13-turn road course.
The pairing of the three open-wheel racing Championships has become a destination for drivers as young as 14 making the step from karting, and has become a home for many veteran drivers looking to do battle with a strong field.
The F1600 will see rounds 10, 11 and 12 run at Mid-Ohio, with a blanket covering the top drivers in the Championship standings. Mid-Ohio could hold the key to the title, with just nine races left following the weekend.
A double-win performance at Watkins Glen in May has given Phillippe Denes the Championship lead for Team Pelfrey but by just eight points over Neil Verhagen, who took home a victory and two strong finishes in a big weekend at VIR in early June for his K-Hill Motorsports team.
Series Veteran Steve Bamford sits third in the Championship for Rice Race Prep, and will again also race in the F2000 Championship Series, where he leads the series standings.
Team Pelfrey’s Calvin Ming and K-Hill’s Peter Portante round out the top five in points, each with a single victory to their name and both driving chassis from French manufacturer Mygale. Ming took home top honors at Watkins Glen, while Portante won the season opener at Road Atlanta but has failed to repeat despite a number of solid drivers at the front of the competitive F1600 field.
Fellow Road Atlanta victor Max Mallinen form Swan Motorsports will return to Mid-Ohio, where his previous experience in F1600 two seasons ago could help the talented racer move up the grid. Mallinen won the third race of 2016 at Road Atlanta, but is hoping to rebound from a DNF suffered at VIR on Sunday afternoon.
There is also Kaylen Frederick, who made his points-paying debut at VIR for Team Pelfrey and featured in the lead group of all three race.
K-Hill’s Hans Ada has been progressing nicely as well in his rookie Formula F campaign and Andy Melvin will make his first start of the 2016 season at Mid-Ohio.
Wisconsin-native Jeffrey Bartz will make his pro debut at Mid-Ohio after competitive runs in SCCA Club Racing in prior seasons.
In addition, the Masters Class will feature Cliff Johnson, Joel Haas, Jim Oseth, Doug Voss and C. William Kephart, as well as Dan Pyanowski and Scott Rubenzer, making it a deep and competitive field.
Haas has run well all season under the Rice Race Prep banner, while Pyanowski returns after missing VIR. Voss and Rubenzer both return to F1600 competition after a brief hiatus.
A stacked entry list for the F2000 Championship Series at Mid-Ohio this weekend features a who’s who listing of some of the best F2000 talents in North America for rounds seven and eight of the 14-race 2016 season.
After a weekend-long battle at VIR that saw Steve Bamford narrowly edge John LaRue for two victories, the two are expected to be at it again at Mid-Ohio, but this time on LaRue’s home turf and a track he has dominated at in the past.
The lead grouping will be further bolstered by Tim Paul for Screaming Monkey Racing, who has run well at Mid-Ohio, in addition to brother pairing Austin and John McCusker for Dotworks Racing and Citation Engineering pilot Brandon Dixon.
Ohio local Dave Weitzenhof and Florida's Robert Allaer are joining the field this weekend in what is quickly shaping up to be a quest for glory at Mid-Ohio.
Pittsburgh-based R-Sport has entered an expanded line up, with Bob Reid being joined by Chris Horan and Scott Gesford.
Returning F2000 veteran Aason Pettipas makes his first Series start in two years with Britain West Motorsports, while Steve Jenks returns after missing rounds five and six that were held at VIR in June.
Jenks was competitive at Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen, with a best finish of fifth in the No. 68 Van Diemen.
K-Hill Motorsports will field the No. 15 for Jenna Grillo, who like Jenks, also logged her best finish of the year at Road Atlanta, with a sixth place effort in race two.
Devin LeSuer and Connor Gawry both made their 2016 debuts at VIR, and are back with F2000 again for this weekend’s action at Mid-Ohio, as are Alex Ethier and Chris Gumprecht.
Over six Atlantic Championship Series races in 2016, Ryan Norman has taken five wins, and four in a row heading into Mid-Ohio. The No. 48 K-Hill Motorsports driver may seem unstoppable in his Swift 016/Mazda, but Polestar drivers David and Keith Grant are hoping to find the top step of the podium and have proven to be very competitive at Mid-Ohio in past runs.
Norman’s Flipside Burger-sponsored car scored the sweep at both Watkins Glen and VIR, but a season-long battle with 2015 Atlantic Champion Keith Grant now returns to a track Grant won at in 2015 in the No. 40 Polestar Swift 016/Mazda.
David Grant has switched from F2000 to Atlantic, with his second weekend of 2016 in the No. 29 Atlantic machine set to take place. Grant may have the most race-craft experience of the three at Mid-Ohio, as a weekend spent in an F1600 car saw him mixing it up with the lead pack in 2014.
Other entries for the weekend include Lewis Cooper Jr. from Polestar, Kirk Kindsfater from K-Hill, in addition to Comprent’s Richard Zober and Chris Ash.
The Atlantic Challenge division will once again come down to a slug-fest between Bob Corliss in a Comprent Swift 14/Toyota, and Bruce Hamilton, driving for K-Hill in a Swift 014/Toyota.
Mid-Ohio marks rounds seven and eight of the 14-race Atlantic Championship Series season.