Palm Beach International Raceway has begun the construction of their own internal racing ladder. This weekend, (February 27 - March 1, 2009), the track will host their Grand Opening Kart Race, with a purse of $10,000 USD. Also included in the prize package for this weekend's race is the possibility of a Formula BMW test and/or enrollment in their "Testing with a Difference" Formula BMW program. Former Indy Lights champion/IndyCar driver, Jay Howard is the new President of Karting for PBIR, and has put some really solid ideas into place for 2009. Jay will be an excellent asset to the business of the track and the development of young drivers.
As noted above, PBIR has a program termed "Testing with a Difference" for both their Formula BMW and their Indy Lights program. You can see the details of each below.
"Testing with a Difference" Formula BMW
"Testing with a Difference" Indy Lights
In a way, both programs are just a fancy name for testing drivers in a Formula BMW or Indy Lights car. But at the same time, PBIR has done a nice job of marketing by adding some truly important perks to the test, such as association with Pit-Fit training and the driver coaching of Jay Howard. More importantly, they are looking at drivers from the karting ranks and developing them into a (Per Their Website).... "a total package driver which encompasses driving ability, team communication, public relations, professional presentation and physical fitness".
Bottom line, it's nice to see another ladder system developing for aspiring race drivers. The next step for the program, in my opinion, should be a scholarship run-off to allow the kids without adequate funding to participate in the ladder system. Just an idea.