The Hawaii-based Memo Gidley Karting Clinic and the legendary Jim Russell Racing school have teamed up to offer a very special prize to an aspiring racing driver involving a three-day 'Techniques of Racing' course at the Infineon Raceway.

A decade ago, a twenty-two year-old motorcross rider named Memo Gidley enrolled in a mechanics' training program at the world-famous Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. In return for working in the school's shop at Laguna Seca Raceway, Memo got to drive the racecars he wrenched. As a rookie participant in the USAC Formula Russell Championship, the unknown American qualified on the pole in his first race and led from start to finish. He subsequently won nine out of eleven races en route to the 1992 series title, and a racing career had begun.

The success he enjoyed during his two years with Lynx Racing in the CART Toyota Atlantic series catapulted him into the ranks of Champ Car drivers and now, Gidley and the Russell School have united in offering the same opportunity for an up-and-coming young racer.

Hawaii's 4th Annual Memo Gidley Karting Clinic, scheduled for the weekend of January 4-5 on the island of Oahu, will feature an added twist, which promises more than the usual bragging rights for karters in the 50th State. One skilled Clinic participant will earn free participation in the Russell School's renowned three-day "Techniques of Racing" Course at Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway) in Sonoma, California.

Gidley has long given back to the karting community, and the addition of actual racing cars to this program comes as a natural extension of the open wheel ladder. "I'm happy the Russell School is providing this great opportunity for the karters," he says. "The goal of the Clinic is to bring more awareness and give kids in Hawaii the dream that they can race cars. The next step up from racing karts is racing cars, and that's what the Russell School provides. That's where I began my career, and if I can do it, that makes it possible for anybody."

The course (a $2,495 value) will put the winning Clinic pupil into essentially the same type of custom-built formula car in which Gidley got his start: a 125 horsepower, two-litre Mitsubishi-powered single seater with a 4-speed gearbox and Yokohama tires, utilizing the same twelve-turn, 2.52 mile road course used annually for marquee NASCAR and ALMS events. "The school gives students the opportunity to segue into what most people want to do after they've been racing karts for a while, and that is to get into a formula car," explains Kjell Kallman, Vice President and General Manager of the Russell School. "Once they finish the program, they are eligible for their USAC and SCCA national licenses, and they qualify for our Graduate Runoffs. Every year, we offer a full scholarship with a total purse of $60,000 for deserving students to race in the USAC Formula Russell Championship."

The 2002 Graduate Runoffs took place this past weekend, with Gidley serving as one of the professional judges. He will play a similar role at the Clinic, where he will analyse students' on-track performance, technical feedback, and other pertinent criteria in selecting a winner of the Russell School prize.

For the second straight year, the Clinic will return to Windward Mall in Kaneohe (Windward Oahu's largest shopping complex). Gidley will engage karters from Oahu and Maui in on-track tests, classroom discussions and lead-follow sessions where he will shadow drivers from behind the wheel of his own Trackmagic MG signature kart.

Although Gidley saw sporadic action in big-league open wheel racing this past season, his karting activities have kept him constantly busy in between chasing his next Champ Car ride. He launched the MG Trackmagic line this spring and became involved as a coach with Jim Russell International Karting's new facility in Sonoma (which exclusively uses Trackmagic karts). He also began writing a new "how-to" book on shifter kart racing, Memo Gidley's Speed Secrets, co-authored with Jeff Grist and scheduled for publication this February.

The Clinic serves as the signature event for the Pacific Karting Club, Oahu's IKF-sanctioned karting organization dating back to statehood in 1959. The club features six divisions of racing karts for members ages 8 and up, and while many participants compete on a strictly recreational basis, it also nurtures homegrown talent capable of establishing careers as professional racing drivers. Organizers and supporters of the Memo Gidley Karting Clinic hope this event will one day produce Hawaii's next racing superstar, and participation at the Russell School may well yield the next step towards this goal.

Sponsors for the 2003 Memo Gidley Karting Clinic include Windward Mall, Thrasher Magazine, Trackmagic Racing Karts, Jim Russell Racing School, Simple Green, Fuji Film Hawaii, 24 Hour Fitness, Kailua Electric Service, Safety Systems Hawaii, Delta Construction Corp., Meta Engineering, All-Star Hawaii, Soccer Locker, Strong Current Surfwear, Soapchips Internet Publishing, Punish'Um Motorsports TV, Rick-It's Racin' Radio and Thunderbird Creative Media.