MAY 11, 2001--In addition to a 2002 Mazda Miata, the winner of this year's Star Mazda Series North American Championship will also receive a check for $20,000, which is twice the amount earned by last year's champion. A total cash payout of $138,000 will be distributed, which more than doubles last
year's total prize fund.

"The Star Mazda Series administration is very excited to see this increased encouragement for rising talent in our sport and the obvious boost in perceived value of the Star Mazda Series by others," said series administrator Gary Rodrigues. "Because of our excellent participation levels and increased sponsor support, we were able to announce this major increase in prize money for the Star Mazda Series North American Championship."

Last year, the $65,500 total prize fund was paid out to the top 10 finishers in the championship. This year, the champion will receive a 2002 Mazda Miata, plus $20,000. Second place will earn $25,000; third place nets $15,000; fourth is $12,000 and fifth place will garner $11,000. The sixth-place finisher will earn $10,000 and from there, in decreasing increments of $1,000, prize money will be distributed to 15th place.

Two races have been run so far with World Speed Motorsports' Scott Bradley leading the points, 84 to 81, over Valley Motor Center's Chad Block. The season-opener at Texas Motor Speedway in March drew a 40-car field with Bradley winning the race. At Sebring, two weeks later, 35 drivers took the green with Block claiming victory.

The third round of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship is July 21, at Sears Point Raceway. For more information about the Star Mazda Series North American Championship, please log on to the Star Mazda Series website at or contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. --Jane Anderson