Checkered Flag Falls on the 4th Annual Corning Classic/LPGA Autocross Challenge
Six LPGA Tour professionals test their driving skills
Six Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour members, a caddie, and three tournament officials teamed-up for the Skip Barber Racing School for the 4th Annual Corning/LPGA Autocross Challenge at Watkins Glen International (WGI) on Monday, May 19, 2008. WGI, the LPGA Corning Classic and the Skip Barber Racing School have been working together on this unique autocross challenge since 2005.
"Part of the attraction for players to come and play in our tournament, is also what they are able do in the community during their off-hours," stated Jack Benjamin, president of the LPGA Corning Classic. "We like to bring the players up here (to WGI) because it is a very unique experience for them."
The winning team, consisting of rookie challengers Jean Bartholomew and Beth Bader, finished best overall with the lowest combined score, after both teams faced a two point penalty due to a couple of exciting spinouts. They celebrated a traditional race victory by spraying Great Western Champagne, the official champagne of The Glen, all over their fellow competitors.
LPGA pros Charlotta Sorenstam, Allison Hanna-Williams, Lee Ann Walker Cooper, Jean Bartholomew and Beth Bader were joined by two local media personalities, Rick Hughey of WFLR Radio and Chris Gill of the Corning Leader as well as LPGA Corning Classic president, Jack Benjamin and president of the Tournament Owners Association, Gail Graham for the intense competition. All competitors first participated in the Skip Barber Racing School, where they received instructions on how to handle a 140 mph Formula Dodge R/T 2000 race car.
They then moved to the track to take their turn at challenging the twisting lefts and rights of historic Watkins Glen International. Once everyone took their laps around The Soul of American Road Racing, the game faces went on for the start of the Autocross Challenge.
This year's challenge marked the fourth consecutive year for Sorenstam and she was able to reflect on some similarities between racing and golfing. "We always look forward to our target and use similar hand-to-eye coordination. It's also about timing and knowing when to speed up and slow down and take your time." When asked what type of racing she prefers she said the IndyCar Series, "definitely...because I prefer the openness of the car - and open air." Luckily for Sorenstam the Formula Dodge RT/2000 race cars are commonly considered a smaller version of an "Indy" car, although race fans will have to wait a few more weeks to catch the IndyCar Series racing "Pro's" in action at the track.
About Skip Barber Racing School
Headquartered in Lakeville, Conn., and operating out of four additional base locations, Skip Barber is the world's largest racing and driving school, available at close to 30 race tracks across the U.S. and Canada, including Watkins Glen International. In addition to the Skip Barber Racing School, the company also runs the Skip Barber Driving School and the new High Performance Driving School. The company also operates six separate open-wheel racing championships, including the prestigious entry level pro series, the Skip Barber National Presented by RACER. More information is available by calling 860.435.1300, and at www.skipbarber.com.
Watkins Glen International will host several major racing series throughout the 2008 season starting in two weeks during the 27th running of the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, June 6-8. This 4th of July weekend, the IndyCar Series comes back to The Soul of American Road Racing for the 4th Annual Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, July 6-8 while the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series joins the track during their annual visit
in New York State, this August 7-10, during the Centurion Boats at The Glen. More information can be found by calling 866-461-RACE or at www.TheGlen.com.
About the LPGA
Featuring the world's best women golfers, the LPGA's membership includes touring, teaching and club professionals. The LPGA Tour in 2006 features 35 events, with total prize money of more than $50 million. Since 1981, the LPGA and its tournaments have raised approximately $170 million for charity. From the dreams of its 13 founders in 1950, the LPGA has evolved into the world's pre-eminent women's professional sports organization. The LPGA has grown from its roots as a playing tour into a non-profit organization involved in every facet of golf. In addition to the LPGA Tour members, the LPGA membership includes nearly 1,200 certified Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) who serve the golf industry in teaching, coaching and management positions. The LPGA T&CP member programs focus on increasing the involvement of women, girls and youth in golf, as well as contribute to the growth of the sport overall. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla. For more information on the LPGA, log on to www.LPGA.com.