Mar 13, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>Sears Point Raceway, Jim Russell School<BR>Unveil Sears Point Karting Center<BR><BR>SONOMA, Calif. (March 13, 2002) - Sears Point Raceway unveiled today another element of its comprehensive $50 million Modernization Plan as track officials took the wraps off the state-of-the-art Sears Point Karting Center.<BR><BR>The Center will feature a twisting 16-turn, three-quarter-mile road course that will be 28-feet wide and can be divided into six different configurations. Some of the track highlights include an 850-foot sweeping straightaway, and another 450-foot sweeping straightaway that leads into a challenging combination of turns. The Center will be the premier karting facility in the western United States.<BR><BR>Memo Gidley, who drove for Target Chip Ganassi in the CART FedEx Championship Series last year and resides in nearby San Rafael, took the ceremonial first lap around the challenging circuit. He was joined at the press conference by officials from both Sears Point Raceway and Jim Russell International Karting, which will be the track operator.<BR><BR>"I've driven on many kart tracks around this country and this one ranks right up there," Gidley said. "It has all the elements of a first-class karting track, from tight corners to sweeping straightaways. It is a premier facility."<BR><BR>The Sears Point Karting Center will feature a scoreboard, two transponder-timing systems and bleachers, as well as a kart maintenance and storage center. The track, which was designed in part by Jim Russell International Karting, was built to CIK/FIA standards. The Jim Russell School has been based at Sears Point Raceway since 1996. <BR><BR>"This track was designed for everyone, from the serious international competitor to the business person looking for a unique recreation alternative for their clients or staff," said Steve Page, president and general manager at Sears Point Raceway. "It's exciting to see that design turn into reality today."<BR><BR>Jim Russell International Karting will feature a variety of on-track activities to suit every enthusiast, from beginner to advanced. There will be open testing, a number of different kart racing series, as well as a variety of kart schools. Minimum age to compete is 8 years old. Please visit the Web-site at for detailed information on all programs, as well as pricing.<BR><BR><BR>"Finally, Northern California has a world-class karting facility at a premier racetrack. You can't beat that combination," said Ken Ude, President of the Jim Russell School. "We have invested a lot of time and effort into this facility to bring karters the absolute best in terms of track, facility, equipment, instruction and racing. I truly think we have something for everyone. From our family-oriented cadet programs to sprint karts to shifters to the arrive-n-drive racing series, there is a plan for everyone."<BR><BR>The Jim Russell School has been teaching the art of auto racing since 1957, and past graduates include Formula One standout Jacques Villeneuve, former CART Champion Jimmy Vasser, Emerson Fittipaldi, Casey Mears and Gidley. When not in operation by the Jim Russell School, Sears Point is open to hosting national, as well as international, karting events. <BR><BR>Once such event confirmed for 2002 is the "Stars of Tomorrow Series." CART and the North American Karting Association (NAKA) have combined to host six regional kart racing series, one of which will be held at the Sears Point Karting Center. The six-race series at Sears Point begins April 21. The eventual winner of Stars of Tomorrow at the national level gets an invitation to test with a CART racing team.<BR><BR>The Sears Point Karting Center is part of the raceway's ongoing $50 million Modernization Plan that will transform the facility into one of the premier road-racing and entertainment venues in the world. The comprehensive two-year project began in September, 2000, and is expected be nearly complete by the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup, June 20-23, 2002.