Barber Pro Series
The Barber Pro Series was an entry-level open-wheel auto racing series from 1986 to 2003. The races were primarily on road and street courses in North America, although the schedule did sometimes include a few ovals.
The Barber Pro Series was a spec series, in which all cars were identically prepared by Skip Barber Racing. For many years the series was known as the Barber Saab Pro Series; the spec car was a tube-frame Mondiale chassis (basically a Formula Ford 2000 design) powered by a turbocharged 16 valve Saab H engine. For the seasons 1986 and 1987 the cars used street-legal racing tires, but for the 1988 season they used Goodyear Racing Eagle slicks instead.
The idea was around already in 1979 as a way to get Saab involved in serious motorsports in the United States. Len Lonnegren, PR boss at Saab Cars USA, Inc., had heard that Skip Barber was planning to launch an open-wheel "spec car" race series, and that it was to run on the same IMSA programs as the GTPs and Camel Lights. Originally Skip Barber had planned on using small displacement naturally aspirated 1600 cc Dodge engines, but was talked into using turbocharged Saab engines instead. Saab provided engines and spare parts, as well as the assistance of an engineer nicknamed "Turbo Anders" who flew over from Sweden rather frequently once things got rolling. The engines were basically stock 1985 cc 16-valve twin-cam turbo engines with an output of 225 hp. Since all the cars used Saab engines reliability was more important than high performance.[neutrality disputed] The engines differed from street versions in that the boost is increased, emission control systems are removed, fuel-injection settings revised and a racing exhaust fitted, together with dry-sump lubrication. By 1991 the marketing strategy at Saab changed and Saab US did little more than provide the engines.
By the late 1990s, the Mondiale was replaced by a composite monocoque Reynard chassis powered by a production Dodge V-6 engine and the series name was changed to the Barber Dodge Pro Series. In later years, the series was sanctioned by CART. Following CART's bankruptcy at the end of the 2003 racing season, the series announced it would not compete in 2004. However Skip Barber Racing still maintains the Skip Barber National Championship and its regional race series.
Notable series champions
- Robbie Buhl (1989)
- Bryan Herta (1991)
- Kenny Bräck (1993)
- Jaki Scheckter (1995) - nephew of Jody Scheckter and son of Ian Scheckter
- Derek Hill (1997)
- Jeff Simmons (1998 and 1999)
- A. J. Allmendinger (2002).
Other notable drivers who have raced in the series include Juan Pablo Montoya, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Danica Patrick, Jeremy Dale, Townsend Bell, Greg Biffle, Michael Valiante, Rocky Moran, Jr. and Al Unser.