Barber Pro Series
The Barber Pro Series was a professional open-wheel auto racing series from 1986 to 2003. It was one of the first professional spec series for open-wheel racecars in North America. The races were primarily on road and street courses in North America, although the schedule did sometimes include a few ovals.
This series is often confused with Skip Barber's long-standing amateur racing series which has always used different and significantly less powerful cars. The amateur series currently has regional and national components.
The Barber Pro Series was a spec series, in which all cars were identically prepared by Skip Barber Racing. From its beginning in 1986 to 1994, 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 discussed as early as 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" professional 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. 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.
In 1995, the Saab engine was replaced with a production car 240 hp 3.2 L 24-valve Dodge aluminum sixty degree V6 engine and the series name was changed to the Barber Dodge Pro Series. However, during the 1995–1997 race seasons, the series continued to use the original tube frame Mondiale chassis. In later years, the engines produced 265 hp.
For the 1998 race season, the Mondiale chassis was replaced by a carbon-composite monocoque Reynard 98E chassis with a Hewland NMT200 six-speed sequential gearbox. The cars weighed 1400 lbs with fluids. 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.
- Willy Lewis (1986)
- Ken Murillo (1987)
- Bruce Feldman (1988)
- Robbie Buhl (1989) - 1992 Indy Lights Champion
- Rob Wilson (1990)
- Bryan Herta (1991) - 1993 Indy Lights Champion, former IndyCar, Champ car and CART driver
- Robert Amren (1992)
- Kenny Bräck (1993) - 1999 Indy 500 winner and 1998 Indy Racing League Series Champion
- Diego Guzman (1994)
- Jaki Scheckter (1995) – nephew of Jody Scheckter and son of Ian Scheckter
- Fredrick Larsson (1996)
- Derek Hill (1997) - son of Phil Hill
- Jeff Simmons (1998 and 1999) - former IndyCar driver
- Nilton Rossoni (2000)
- Nicolas Rondet (2001)
- A. J. Allmendinger (2002) - 2003 Formula Atlantic Champion, former Champ Car race winner, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver
- Leo Maia (2003)
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, Michael Valiante, David Martínez, Memo Rojas, Rocky Moran, Jr., Al Unser III, Andy Swett, Jerry Nadeau and Ernesto Viso.