Canadian woman to compete in series

BRASELTON, Ga. (July 9, 2002) -- Melanie Paterson of Toronto, Canada, will make her American Le Mans Series sports car racing debut in the series' two upcoming Canadian races. The former international alpine ski racer will drive a Prototype in the...

BRASELTON, Ga. (July 9, 2002) -- Melanie Paterson of Toronto, Canada, will make her American Le Mans Series sports car racing debut in the series' two upcoming Canadian races. The former international alpine ski racer will drive a Prototype in the LMP 675 class.

Paterson's first American Le Mans Series race will be Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, on August 3, and then she will compete in the Grand Prix at Mosport at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont., on August 18.

With sponsorship from Schneider's Hot Rod, one of Canada's favorite snack food products, Paterson will co-drive with veteran racer Paul Fix of Buffalo, N.Y., in a Lola B2K-Nissan fielded by Essex Racing of Atlanta.

"I am extremely excited about our program for this year," said Paterson, whose most recent racing experience has been in the Canadian Formula Ford Championship. "Michael Gue and Tony Dowe from Essex Racing have a great history and I will learn a lot from them. We have all been working very hard to put this program together and I am looking forward to successful events."

In addition to Formula Fords, her racing background includes go karts and Legends cars, and she has tested in Indy Lights, Formula Atlantic and Formula Palmer Audi machines. She has tested in the Prototype but the Trois-Rivieres event will be her first racing experience in the 500-horsepower car.

"The biggest difference will be the pit stops and driver changes, something that we did not do in Formula Ford," she said. "However, I have done quite a bit of endurance racing, so I am used to that. I'm also used to the high-horsepower cars through my testing experience. I'm prepared."

Paterson is a member of the CART Pace Car Team, an all-female group of professional drivers that pilots the official pace cars at all CART events as well as giving VIP rides around race tracks. She is also a partner in Driving Unlimited, a national company that specializes in driver training and introducing new product lines for automotive manufacturers. She also works as a race driving instructor, works as an automotive journalist and has done stunt driving for movies. Before beginning her racing career, she won three Canadian Championship titles in alpine skiing.

Paterson will be one of the few women who have competed in the American Le Mans Series, a series of North American sports car races based on the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. Milka Duno of Venezuela is a regular competitor, driving a more-powerful Prototype in the LMP 900 class for Toronto-based MBD Sportscars. Duno was part of the winning team in three ALMS races last year in the LMP 675 class before moving up this year.

Another female racer, Claudia Huertgen of Germany, won the LMP 675 class pole position in two events last year and became the first female race winner in series history when she was part of the winning team in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Milka Duno , Paul Fix , Melanie Paterson