KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVERS HONORED AT YEAR-END AWARDS BANQUET HOUSTON, Texas, Sept. 26, 1999 - Anthony Lazzaro, the 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Champion, and Atlantic team owner Michael Shank were among those honored at...
KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVERS HONORED AT YEAR-END AWARDS BANQUET
HOUSTON, Texas, Sept. 26, 1999 - Anthony Lazzaro, the 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Champion, and Atlantic team owner Michael Shank were among those honored at the year-end awards banquet that celebrated the 26th season of the CART development series.
Andrew Craig, president and CEO of Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc., provided remarks and was among those presenting awards honoring the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship season at the banquet, emceed by series PA announcer Greg Creamer. Bert Kremer, sponsorship manager of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and Les Unger, national motorsports manager of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., joined Andrew Craig for the presentation of awards to the top-three drivers in the championship.
The remaining seven drivers in the final KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship top-10 points standings were honored, along with 11 special awards, including:
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: To Sam Hornish, Jr., of Michael Shank Racing,in recognition of the rookie scoring the most series championship points, along with $5,000. GILLES VILLENEUVE AWARD: To Lee Bentham, of Player's-Forsythe Racing, sponsored by Championship Racing Magazine, to the driver who possesses extraordinary ability and that special star quality and who has distinguished himself through sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance in the face of disappointment.
TEAM OWNER OF THE YEAR: To Michael Shank, of Michael Shank Racing, recognizing the team owner whose interest and efforts benefited the entire series as much as their individual team.
MECHANIC OF THE YEAR: To Ken Kline, of P-1 Racing, sponsored by the Lincoln Electric Company, honoring the driver's most important ally during a race weekend, along with a Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 175.
BBS RISING STAR AWARD: To William Langhorne, of Active Motorsports, sponsored by BBS of America, Inc., honoring a new driver who has come on to the Atlantic scene and performed in a most-competitive fashion and is a star of the future, along with $3,500.
MICHAEL ROSEN TROPHY: To Buddy Rice, of Lynx Racing, recognizing both dedication and perseverance, as well as the desire to succeed.
TRD ENGINE BUILDER OF THE YEAR: To Paul Hasselgren, recognizing the engine-builder that scores the most championship points.
ENGINEER OF THE YEAR: To Jim Griffth, of Lynx Racing, in recognition to the driver's engineer who best utilizes his knowledge of the series, its technology and the sophistication of the car's set-up.
SNAP-ON/CAM TOP WRENCH AWARD: To Michael Harvey, of PPI Racing, to the man in charge of blending all the different elements that combine to make a championship team. A $2,500 gift certificate awarded, along with a tool box, provided by Snap-On.
JOVY MARCELO SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD: To John Brooks, of BBGP-Port-A-Cool Racing, given to the driver whose sportsmanship exemplifies one of the series finest champions.
C-2 CHAMPION: To Bob Siska, of RJS Racing, to the driver with the most C-2 Championship points, plus a $2,500 bonus.
TOP-10 DRIVERS: Competitors finishing in the top 10 in the final championship points standings were honored, with Jean-Francois Veilleux of P-1 Racing, placing 10th, David Rutledge of Forsythe Racing, finishing 9th, William Langhorne of Active Motorsports, finishing 8th; Sam Hornish Jr. of Michael Shank Racing, finishing 7th, Lee Bentham of Player's-Forsythe Racing, finishing 6th, Buddy Rice of Lynx Racing, finishing 5th, Alex Tagliani of Player's-Forsythe Racing, finishing 4th, Andrew Bordin of PPI Racing, finishing 3rd and earning a $10,000 bonus, Kenny Wilden of Michael Shank Racing, placing 2nd and earning a $15,000 bonus, and 1999 series champion Anthony Lazzaro of PPI Racing. Lazzaro's awards also included the $25,000 Drivers' Championship bonus, and the use of a new Toyota for one year.
"It was a real surprise winning the Atlantic Owner of the Year award," said Shank, who also coached Hornish Jr. to the coveted rookie-of-the-year award. "This honor was a real tribute to the people who work at Shank Racing. When I asked for more, they responded with more, and they gave us the best year of our career so far."
The well-attended year-end awards banquet formally concluded the 12-race 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship season. The CART-sanctioned KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is the third rung on CART's Ladder System, and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are current Champ Car drivers Michael Andretti, Alex Barron, Patrick Carpentier, Memo Gidley, Richie Hearn, and Jimmy Vasser, former stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve. For more information on the series, please visit its Web site at http://www.toyota-atlantic.com.