STRUGGLE AND SUCCESS -- LYNX IN LAS VEGAS AND A SEASON OVERVIEW
Lynx Racing drivers Sara Senske and Mike Conte struggled and succeeded during the American Le Mans Series finale this past weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Senske, competing in the final races of both the Star Formula Mazda Championship and the Women's Global GT Series, qualified 15th and scored an 8th-place finish in the former and qualified 5th and finished 4th in the latter -- both times after being punted off course in the first turn of the first lap and working her way through the pack from the back of the field. When the dust cleared, she finished 4th in the WGGTS championship and 6th in the Star Mazda championship (and 4th in the Star Mazda Best Western Championship, comprised of the six Mazda races that were televised on ESPN). In 20 races this year (14 Star Mazda and 6 WGGTS), Senske completed every lap of every event. She scored one win, one pole position, three fastest race laps, three podium finishes, six top-5 finishes and six top-10s. "This season was the single biggest learning experience of my life," says Senske. "It was far from easy, but it's my natural inclination to persevere, and, with the support of Lynx Racing and my family, we got the job done. To compete on an equal footing against the front-runners in these two intensely competitive series gave me added confidence that I have the ability and backing to make it all the way to my goal -- to keep moving up until I'm competing at the top levels of auto racing and use my success to open the doors for other women to get into the sport." Senske's racing plans for next year are not finalized at this point, but she will continue to drive for Lynx Racing in 2000 and is ready to move up to the next rung of the motorsports ladder. Mike Conte, who was teamed with Buddy Rice in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic series this season, also drives a Porsche 911 in the American Le Mans Series GT class, entered under his own Contemporary Motorsports banner. Co-driving with Randy Pobst, the team qualified the #17 Porsche 6th in the GT class, ahead of both the factory BMWs and all but one of the air-cooled Porsches in the field. In the morning warm-up on race day, a brand-new axle failed while pulling out of the pits, and after repairs both drivers only got a few laps to practice. Once the race started, they ran with the lead pack until the halfway point of the 2-hour and 45-minute event, at which point an error by the pace car in picking up the wrong overall leader resulted in Conte losing a lap. The rest of the race continued under green, and the team made a splash-and-go fuel stop with ten minutes to go and wound up finishing third. "Craig Perkins built us a good race car, and Randy did an awesome job at the wheel," said Conte. "We were the top air cooled Porsche, again, and it was a great finish to a season that we started off with a third place at Sebring. The team, the drivers, and the car came a long way since then. Dennis Aase and the AASCO guys really worked hard and the car ran like a train. We had a great finishing record and kept the factory teams honest all year. I'm looking forward to Daytona in January..." In the 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic championship, Conte's second year in the series but his first with Lynx Racing, he scored eight top-10 finishes in 12 races and finished 13th in the points. His teammate, Buddy Rice, in his second year with the team, started from the pole once, finished in the top-5 five times and scored four podium finishes. He finished fifth in the championship and was awarded the Michael Rosen Trophy, which recognizes dedication, perseverance and the desire to succeed. Rice will move on from Lynx to another team for the 2000 season. Lynx Racing's chief engineer, Jim Griffith, who will move to another team for the 2000 season, was awarded the Engineer of the Year award, and the team's engine supplier, Paul Hasselgren, won the TRD Engine Builder of the Year Award for the fourth year in a row. Lynx Racing, owned by Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, is a unique driver development program now in its tenth year of operation. The team's mission is to seek out young drivers with championship potential and provide them with the funding, resources and training to realize that potential. Lynx alumni include CART FedEx drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley. For further information on the Lynx Racing and its drivers, please visit the team's web site at www.LynxRacing.com. Mike Conte also has a web site covering his Atlantic and sports car racing activities, at www.MikeConte.com.