It rarely happens in racing and in life, but driver Jason Bartlett will get a second chance.
Injured in an auto accident days before he was to represent the United States in the 2011 World Driving Championship, Bartlett has been selected as this country's representative to the 2013 Championship, to be contested in France.
His selection as the U.S. representative was announced Thursday by the U.S. Trotting Association.
Bartlett, 31, a native of Maine who now resides in Goshen, N.Y. and is among the leading drivers at Yonkers Raceway, is nearing the 5,000-win plateau in a career that began in 1998. He finished sixth in the 2009 Championship, contested in Norway, which disappointed him knowing so many back in the U.S. cheering for him.
"I was actually a bit surprised when (USTA President) Phil Langley called,” Bartlett said. "I've very excited and am happy to have a second chance.
"I learned (in the 2009 tournament) that you can't focus on just winning races; you have to be consistent the entire way. The odd distances that they race in Europe and the fact they only race trotters makes no difference; racing is racing. But there are trailers and being two or three wide the whole way can be a very good trip … unlike it is here.”
"I know Jason was very disappointed that he couldn't drive for us last year,” USTA president Phil Langley said. "I look forward to seeing him repeat his performance in Norway (in the 2009 Championship) where he won three of the 20 races.
"Jason has been and will again be an excellent representative of the USA, in the tradition of Andy Miller, David Miller, Dave Magee, Corey Callahan and the others who have worn our colors in the past.”
Full details of the Driving Championship have yet to be announced, but it will be contested between June 8 and 15 at various tracks in France. The U.S. Trotting Association will offer a tour to France for the Championship; those who wish to obtain further information should send their name and contact information to the USTA via e-mail, sent to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Reigning world champion Jody Jamieson of Canada will face Bartlett, Italy's Enrico Bellei, Sweden's Björn Goop, Austria's Gerhard Mayr, France's Pierre Vercruysse, Denmark's Rene Kjær, Spain's Antonio Frontera Pocovi and New Zealand's David Butcher. Australia has yet to name its representative.
The World Driving Championship, which will be contested for the 26th time in 2013 is the oldest, richest and most prestigious horseracing tournament in the world. (USTA)