March 27, 2009

Michael Shank Racing Announces Karting Initiative With Stars of Karting

(Homestead, FL) 25 March 2009- Michael Shank Racing has teamed with Stars of Karting to provide the opportunity for promising young karters to get a behind the scenes look at professional sports car racing. Michael Shank Racing will award a fully immersive race weekend experience to the podium finishers in the April 24-6 TAG ICC Stars of Karting event at the Jim Russell Infineon Raceway Karting Center in Sonoma, California. TAG ICC is a 125cc 6-speed shifter kart engine designed with reliability and performance in mind.

Michael Shank Racing will host the winners as the team contests round 4 of the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 15-17. The three guests will be embedded with the team as they take in all aspects of the race weekend, from sitting in on debriefing sessions with Michael Shank Racing engineers and drivers, to attending drivers meetings, to meeting with a wide scope of racers, engineers, and sanctioning representatives in the Grand Am paddock.

“This is a great opportunity for three drivers from our organization,” stated Snap-on Stars of Karting Series President Alan Rudolph. “Three deserving drivers will be invited to the Grand American Rolex Race in Laguna Seca and will get the chance to see one of their own in Michael Valiante, compete in a Daytona Prototype machine.”

With a direct connection to karters of today through his involvement with Italian Motors and ItalKart, as well as his own experiences moving up from the karting ranks into formula cars and then up to Daytona Prototype competition, Valiante brings both experience and perspective for the racers of tomorrow.

“I really have to give credit to Mike Shank giving this opportunity to the drivers,” said Valiante. “Many young drives these days want to be in cars yesterday and often they are missing some of the basic fundamentals you need to take from karting. With opportunities like this, it will really help drivers understand what it is involved in being a professional driver. By the end of the weekend, they will be able to take this experience and I believe it will help them become a more well-rounded driver. I still work with many young karters today, so I am glad this gives me a opportunity to give back too. This is an opportunity I dreamed of when I was young and looking not only to get in to the motorsports world, but understand it.”

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, has a special place in the team history, as the Monterey event marked Michael Shank Racing’s first two-car entry in Rolex competition when Ozz Negri and Mark Patterson teamed for a record-setting pole and top-ten finish in their first start together in 2005.

“We are really excited about this program because there is a lot of great talent coming up through the Stars of Karting ranks, and we just want to open their eyes to what professional sports car racing is all about,” said team owner Mike Shank. “We are obviously believers in what karting can do for young drivers, having had Michael (Valiante) and AJ (Allmendinger) run with us. But we want to show the next generation of racers what being a professional racer means, and that there is a lot of opportunity in the sports car racing world that they might not yet be aware of. Hopefully this is something we can continue to do more of in the future.”

The passion for karting is one that’s shared by many at Michael Shank Racing, from Oswaldo Negri’s exploits in the famed Granja 500 alongside motorsports stars from across the globe and his oversight of a competitive karting team, to John Pew’s active karting program that keep shim sharp between rounds of Rolex races.

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