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UW-Eau Claire sophomore wins $20,000 racing scholarship at California event

RELEASED: Nov. 11, 2011

Aaron Telitz
Aaron Telitz

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire sophomore who hopes to one day be among the nation's elite race car drivers won $20,000 in racing scholarship money earlier this month during an event in California.

Aaron Telitz, a 19-year-old geography major from Birchwood, earned fourth-place honors at the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout held Nov. 3-6 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.

Twenty-two top U.S. and international go-kart drivers competed in the four-day shootout event, which included racing in the Formula Skip Barber 2000 race car, a smaller version of a Formula One car.

The drivers were judged on interview/appearance, speed (fastest lap time) and consistency (average lap time). Telitz had fastest lap times in two of the four on-track sessions and he had the most consistent times during one session.

"It was an awesome experience to compete with my peers in this top-notch Skip Barber program," said Telitz, who will end his 2011 racing season at a Nov. 16-20 SKUSA event in Las Vegas that will feature 80 drivers from throughout the world.

Half of the four-day competition in California was spent in classroom education such as driver safety talks. Seminars were given by former Formula One driver Derek Daly, and television commentator Bob Varsha was among those leading media training sessions. The drivers also learned how to gain sponsorship dollars.

Aaron Telitz
Aaron Telitz prepares for a race at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. (Photo credit: Kelly Brouillet and the Skip Barber Racing School.)

The $20,000 scholarship Telitz earned — the most money he's made to date in racing — will pay half of the cost for him to compete next summer in the 2012 Skip Barber presents the Mazda Summer Series, Telitz said, noting that the Skip Barber Racing School is a beginning stepping stone for drivers who want to advance in the racing world.

Through the Mazda Summer Series, he will participate in 12-14 races at venues throughout the United States, including at the historic Road America track near Elkhart Lake.

"The Mazda Summer Series in the next big step in my racing career," Telitz said. "If I win that series, I'll move up another step on the racing ladder. I plan to keep climbing."

Telitz started racing go-karts at the age of 7 in Eau Claire at the Midwest Karting Association racetrack. After winning back-to-back season championships at MKA in 2003 and 2004, he advanced to larger karting venues. Since 2004 Telitz has won a variety of season championships and races. In 2010 he had the opportunity to race in France.

Aaron Telitz
Aaron Telitz began racing go-karts at age 7 in Eau Claire. He continues to race the karts at prestigious race tracks around the country. (Photo credit: Kelly Brouillet and the Skip Barber Racing School.)

Two first-place finishes at the 2009 World Karting Association Daytona Championships, a first-place finish at Road America in 2010 and the opportunity through Russell Karting Specialties to race in France are among his most memorable racing moments, said Telitz, who graduated from Birchwood High School in 2010.

"I just love the way racing makes me feel," Telitz said of his passion for the sport. "I love the way it feels to be in a car and to have that control over it. I love driving of any kind. It's very exciting and it's something that I hope to make a living doing."

While his dream is to make it big in the racing world, Telitz said he plans to complete his UW-Eau Claire degree in geography, a field of study that also interests him.

"A lot of the skills I'm learning in college are helping me in my racing career," Telitz said, noting that there are numerous off-the-track skills that are necessary to have a successful career in racing. "Communication, problem solving and seeing a big picture are all examples of things I learn in classes that I'm also using in racing."

Aaron Telitz
Aaron Telitz earned $20,000 in racing scholarship money for his performance during an event earlier this month at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. (Photo credit: Kelly Brouillet and the Skip Barber Racing School.)

Telitz said he's also bringing his interest in racing directly into his academic work when appropriate and possible. For example, he is researching the various ways that racing has had an impact on the safety, fuel efficiency and overall quality of vehicles people drive. He'll present the information in his environmental public health class, he said.

"A lot of people don't realize that race cars provide a way to test a lot of things like tires and safety features before they are used in the cars everyone drives," Telitz said. "My professor is letting me use my interest in racing to contribute to his class."

For more information, contact Aaron Telitz at telitzaj@uwec.edu or go to Aaron Telitz Racing on Facebook.

-30-

JB/DW

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