As the child of two parents who went to work every day (and sometimes nights, as mom is a nurse...) AJ Allmendinger didn’t come from the kind of background that provided him an unlimited budget to go racing. Fortunately, significant parental sacrifices, Allmendinger’s natural talent and desire, and some well-timed help from racing scholarships helped him race his way to the pinnacle of the sport.
Allmendinger is set to make his debut for Penske Racing this Saturday in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in the non-points Budweiser Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway.
Having seen first hand the impact that some outside help can have on a racer’s career, Allmendinger is very pleased to announce a new program that will see a deserving young karter receive a scholarship to race in the 2012 World Karting Association championship starting March 23-25 at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. The scholarship winner will also be set to compete in the Rotax Grand Nationals in August and SKUSA SuperNationals in November.
While Allmendinger was lucky enough to have a winning personality to go with his tremendous on-track skill set, he knows that being the full package is key to getting attention and earning the sponsorship and support needed to move up. To that end, the scholarship prize winner will also receive media and management training from Walldinger Racing, Allmendinger’s management firm.
Allmendinger’s scholarships included prizes from the Skip Barber Racing School (where he finished second in the 2001 National Championship and won the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship) as well as being selected to compete in the 2001/2002 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship as a winner of the Team USA Scholarship, run by longtime motorsports writer and broadcaster Jeremy Shaw.
“I was very lucky, so many different times through my career, to get the support that I needed to keep racing and keep moving up,” said Allmendinger, who opened the 2012 season with a win in the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona for Michael Shank Racing. “So I feel very fortunate to be in a position to try to help someone else who is trying to do the same thing. I’ve had really great partners through my career and I think you can expect some exciting announcements as we go forward with this program. I am really looking forward to this being the start of something good for some young racer out there.”