Indianapolis, USA. The internationalization of Formula BMW has reached the United States. With this unique racing series for young drivers, which already is established in Germany, Asia and recently announced in the UK, the United States will host its own Formula BMW USA series for 2004.

BMW of North America is currently in negotiations with Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) to potentially host select races in conjunction with the sanctioning body in 2004. An entire schedule of races in the U.S. and Canada will be announced later this year and may include the 2004 United States Grand Prix. The schedule will include a total of 14 races - two races will be run on each weekend at seven racetracks in North America. The majority of the race schedule will cover the summer-break period, between June and September, allowing young drivers to finish the school year.

Talented drivers between the age of 16 and 23 will line up on the starting grid. They will learn the details of their sport with the most innovative Formula racing car in its class. Each of the candidates will be eligible for scholarship support from BMW of North America. The top finishing driver for the season in Formula BMW USA will earn a $50,000 scholarship that can be applied to a year of participation in Formula BMW in Germany.

"Formula BMW is firmly established as the best entry-level form of motor racing for promising young karters looking for a stepping stone to single-seaters on their way to Formula One," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "With the BMW WilliamsF1 Team leading the FIA World Championship and with a strong desire to promote open-wheel racing in the U.S., we believe this to be the perfect time for us to introduce Formula BMW to America. For us the Formula BMW car is the safest single-seater entry level vehicle at present."

As part of the total Formula BMW USA program, drivers will participate in the Motorsport Professional training program. This program will provide young drivers with skills that they will need long term in the world of motorsports. BMW will organize several seminars conducted by experienced individuals to review important subjects such as: Fitness Training and Nutrition, Vehicle Dynamics and Chassis Set-up, Driving Technique, Public Relations, Media Training, Racing Strategy, Sponsorship Research & Sports Management

"Formula BMW USA will provide the young entry-level racer, particularly from the kart racing ranks, the opportunity to experience all the demands of professional motorsport," said Tom Purves, CEO of BMW of North America, LLC.

BMW was engaged in promoting new talent in BMW-powered open-wheel racecars as early as 1991. With the development of the new Formula BMW racecar, the Formula BMW ADAC Championship was launched in Germany in 2002. This year, Formula BMW races are being held in Asia for the first time. To enhance an international platform with the goal of a world championship, Formula BMW UK and Formula BMW USA will now become the third and fourth pillars of BMW's commitment to nurturing young drivers towards an open-wheel racing career.

Formula BMW sets new benchmarks especially in safety standards. This state-of-the-art single-seat racecar is powered by a 140-hp BMW K-Series motorcycle engine. Inspired by the BMW Formula 1 shape, DesignworksUSA sketched and modeled the Formula BMW car, which has a high-tech carbon-fiber chassis, meets the FIA safety requirements of the more powerful Formula 3 racing cars, and has been expanded to incorporate a Formula 1 standard with in-house development of the BMW Formula Rescue Seat (FORS). For additional safety measures, all drivers will be able to wear their HANS device (Head and Neck Support system).