Cleveland preview

Friday, July 11, 1997 . Cleveland is round six of the 12-race SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned KOOL/Toyota Atlantic championship, presented by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic ...

Friday, July 11, 1997

. Cleveland is round six of the 12-race SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned KOOL/Toyota Atlantic championship, presented by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic communications staff of James Hyneman, Blair Hefty, and Anne Roy will be available throughout this race weekend to assist in your media needs.

. Now in its 24th year, the $1.38-million 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship is the richest and longest-running open-wheel development series in North America, and a primary training ground for future Indy Car and Formula One drivers. . 31 drivers are expected to compete including Montreal winner Bertrand Godin, two-time winner and current points leader Alex Barron (Milwaukee, Nazareth), Long Beach winner Alexandre Tagliani; and Miami (Homestead Motorsports Complex) race winner Anthony Lazzaro. Barron holds a narrow three-point margin over his closest challenger Lazzaro, 60-57. Memo Gidley is only seven points off the championship pace with 53, followed by Tagliani with 49 points. Godin rounds out the top-five points leaders with 48. . This is the inaugural Atlantic race in the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland. . TRACK: 2.369-miles / 3.812-km, 10-turn temporary road course (Burke Lakefront Airport) . RECORDS: New race circuit / no previous record . SCHEDULE (ET):

Fri. July 11 practice: 12:05 p.m. to 12:35 p.m.

Sat. July 12 qualifying: 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. qualifying: 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sun. July 13 RACE: 11:45 a.m. (ET) 25 laps = 59.225 mi.

. PRIZE MONEY (US): total race purse $85,000 winners earnings $20,000

. TELEVISION: ESPN2 - - Sat. July 19 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.ET ESPN2 - - Sun. July 20 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.ET RDS - - Fri. July 18 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.ET CTV - - TBA. 4:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m.ET

. Indy Car Racing Magazine editor and publisher Ned Wicker is substituting for Atlantic series announcer Greg Creamer as the Atlantic public address (PA) announcer this weekend. Creamer is unable to attend Cleveland his weekend due to other commitments, but he is expected to return to the Atlantic announcer's booth at the Molson Indy Toronto next weekend.

. When DAVID POOK, driver of the No. 35 B.D.J.S.-prepared HYPE ENERGY Drink/Budweiser/Atomic Clothing Ralt RT-40, entered the Jim Russell School in March, 1990, his chief instructor was current Atlantic, ESPN, and ABC-TV motorsports, and X-GAMES reporter Jon Beekhuis.

. JOHN BROOKS, driver of the No. 12 Drive 4 Life/Port-A-Cool racing team, has added a pair of English mechanics this weekend for Cleveland and next weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto. Mike Langley, who worked as Johnny Herbert's crew chief during the 1980s in Formula One, is rated one of the finest Ralt mechanics in the industry today. Brooks and Langley first formed a working relationship nearly ten years ago when Langley assisted Brooks in his Super Vee program. Langley worked last season with Alain Menus Formula Renault team. Menu is currently the British Touring Car points leader. Langley will be joined by long time associate Damon Brown, who is "on loan" from Menu's Formula Renault team.

. ATLANTIC SPONSOR UPDATE: One of the more unique products being marketed by an Atlantic team sponsor is the Port-A-Cool, from General Shelters of Texas. Port-A-Cool is the primary sponsor for the No. 12 Drive 4 Life Ralt RT-40, driven by John Brooks, of Tucson, Ariz. Port-A-Cool is a portable cooling unit that operates on electricity and water, and delivers up to 9,600 cubic feet per minute of up to 20 degree cooler ambient air. A singular Port-A-Cool unit can dispense the cooler air over thousands of square feet. . BROOKS reports that Port-A-Cool has raised quite a few eyebrows around the Atlantic and Indy Car garage. Two Atlantic teams, Brian Robertson's Ralt American Team and P-1 Racing with driver Steve Knapp, have purchased Port-A-Cool units, and more teams have placed orders. In fact, race promoter IMG is utilizing a Port-A-Cool at the entrance of the Chalet Village in order to provide a cool entry for hospitality guests. According to Rick Campbell, Senior Vice-President of External Operations for the General Shelters of Texas, Inc., the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship was specifically chosen for his companys sponsorship because the series presented the most convenient and "sponsor friendly" environment of any series that General Shelters investigated. "We looked at the NASCAR truck series, NASCAR, Indy car, Lights, and a couple of others," said Campbell. "We decided we would best served in a top notch development series that offered similar exposure for our product but under a less pressured environment. Driver availability to fans, easy garage access for fans and potential buyers, and a setting where one won't become buried by larger sponsors were important factors. We built 8,500 Port-A-Cools in 1996, but we suspect that we'll face more competition someday. If we have one goal today, it is to make the name Port-A-Cool as prominent and identifiable a product as Xerox is to photocopying or Frigidare is to refrigerators."

. Precision Preparation Inc.'s MCI Toyota Atlantic Team, owned by Cal Wells III (the Wells of Arciero-Wells), will feature a new driver this weekend. CHRIS SMITH, 29, from Redondo Beach, Calif., will join Jeret Schroeder in fielding the MCI Racing Atlantic cars. Smith is an Atlantic veteran and past series champion in the 1992 Toyota Atlantic Championship. Cal Wells started the Atlantic team this year as a development program for up-and-coming drivers looking to pursue a career in open-wheel racing. (Sharon Villanueva)

. LAP LEADERS: Position Driver Laps Led

1 Alex Barron (R) 120 2 Case Montgomery 38 3 Bertrand Godin 25 4 Alexandre Tagliani 24 5 Chuck West 9 6 Memo Gidley (R) 6 7 Anthony Lazzaro 4

TOTAL: 227

. POLE WINNERS: Circuit Driver Speed (mph)

Homestead Chuck West 121.258 * Long Beach Case Montgomery 94.974 Nazareth Alex Barron 152.303 Milwaukee Alex Barron 141.292 Montreal Bertrand Godin 100.207 * * track record

. FASTEST RACE LAP: Circuit Driver Speed (mph)

Homestead Memo Gidley 120.880 * Long Beach Alexandre Tagliani 94.188 Nazareth Alex Barron 151.828 Milwaukee Bertrand Godin 142.630 Montreal Chuck West 100.028 * * track record PRACTICE SESSION

12:51 p.m. - - Session begins following a 46-minute delay under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s  a total of 31 cars will test the circuit this afternoon provisional and final qualifying will be held tomorrow.

1:21 p.m. - - SESSION ENDS with no major incidents reported.

#19 MEMO GIDLEY, of San Rafael, Calif., was fastest in the Lynx Racing Ralt RT-41 at 1:11.219 = 106.45 mph.

#4 ANTHONY LAZZARO, of Acworth, Ga., is second fastest in the Phillips Motorsports- Per4Mer/BG Products Ralt RT-41 at 1:11.405 = 106.17 mph.

#32 ALEX BARRON, of Vista, Calif., is third fastest in the Lynx Racing-Victory Circle/Red Line Oil Ralt RT-41 at 1:11.622 = 105.85 mph.

* * *

#95 CHRIS SMITH (PPI-MCI Racing) "The team is off to a good start. Everything ran fine during the practice session and we had no major problems. The Cleveland track is very bumpy - most definitely different from anything Ive driven. PPI has a strong foundation in the motorsports industry and with its backing, I have all the confidence that we will accomplish our goals." (Sharon Villanueva)

* * *

#29 CASE MONTGOMERY (Binder Racing-Microsoft/Wall Data/Tandem/Compaq) "The track is definitely not like anything I've raced on before. I watched tapes of the races here, but that only showed me the places where guys get in trouble. I was fairly happy but I don't think I was driving well. I was inconsistent and found myself turning in way too late or too early." (Pam Morey)

* * *

#10 MARK TAGUE (World Speed Motorsports-Altec/Liaison Software Co.) "I've been using the brake markers for reference points and all the cones they have are pretty helpful. But there's a lot of room out there, so you don't have to be so exacting. You can be off the apex cone two or three feet and really not bother yourself. We're going to use the first qualifying session tomorrow for more practice and then concentrate on the final qualifying session." (Pam Morey)

* * *

#19 MEMO GIDLEY (Lynx Racing) "The win is due! This track is different than any other type of course weve raced. The hardest part to learn here is being able to recognize the different areas of the track and the blind spots. Its about learning to pick a path even when you cant see that path. This is a great circuit for technical driving so once you get your groove down, you can really run fast. The chicanes are great. The track has great grip. The cars love third and fourth gear corners and this is what this track is about. The Atlantic car works well anyway, but the ground effects here are strong. It makes driving these cars on a circuit like this a while lot of fun.

* * *

#14 CHUCK WEST (World Speed Motorsports-Red Line Oil/Martini Sunglasses Harvest Group) "I was surprised how smooth the straight-aways were. Obviously the corners are bumpy, but we expected that. The car's handling well and the gearing is fine, so we'll just make some small adjustments." (Pam Morey)

* * *

#96 JERET SCHROEDER (PPI-MCI Racing) "Im trying to adjust to all differences with the track. Im excited to be here and Im looking forward to putting a program together for this race. " (Sharon Villanueva)

* * *

#35 DAVID POOK (B.D.J.S.-HYPE Energy Drink/Budweiser/Atomic Clothing) "We focused in todays practice on adjusting our car to the challenging and unique surface of the track. Crossing from runways to taxiways felt a bit like a roller coaster ride. We are pretty close to what were looking for from the car in terms of handling, but we need to work on our gearing for tomorrows qualifying. This is a great track with many passing opportunities. (Sabina Clemmons)

* * *

#4 ANTHONY LAZZARO (Phillips Motorsports-Platinum Sound/BG Products/Budget Car & Truck Rental) "I've never been here before. It took some time to find my way around. In the beginning of the session the car got a little nervous while exiting one of the corners. The car would do a big dip and slide and dip and slide. We put more rear wing in the car and cured that problem. We've been fighting understeer all season. It hasn't been a huge problem, but we still are a little slow through the corners. The track here is so bumpy, I'm not sure if the car is better, or if I'm flying over the bumps, correcting in mid-air, and keep going. I tell you what. I love flying, and you do a lot of flying here." (Becky Baranouski)

* * *

#66 ALEXANDRE TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team-Player's/Indeck) "This is not an easy track to learn or read because there are very few landmarks for references. In fact, it is almost like driving in the desert because it is so flat. "We didn't have the set up in the rear suspension, and the car took the bumps really hard. I was getting hard jolts as the car seemed to oscillate too much over the bumps." (Francois Cartier)

* * *

#33 BERTRAND GODIN (Player's Forsythe Racing Team-Player's/Indeck) "We ran but a few laps in the session. The gearbox stuck in third and we could not finish the session. I couldn't put my knowledge of the track to good use once again because of the gearbox." (Francois Cartier)

* * *

. Budget Car and Truck Rental has joined the Phillips Racing/Platinum Sound Racing Team and driver Anthony Lazzaro as an associate sponsor for the remaining six races of the 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship. "The association allows us access to contacts both in the automotive industry as well as with travel departments of large corporations," said Budget representative Bill Stokes. "With the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic series we can obtain our AwardsPlus CorpRate program goals without causing a huge drain in our existing marketing structure. And Anthony is such a tremendous bonus to the program. He is always the first one to offe ideas and suggestions to help us tie-in racing with our corporate goals and objectives. Of course, it doesnt hurt that he is a championship contender either." (Becky Baranouski)

. That's a wrap for Friday. Provisional and final qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow. The green light and standing start for the round six of the 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship, present by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is set for Sunday, July 13, at 11:45 a.m. ET.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Memo Gidley , Jeret Schroeder , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Steve Knapp , Bertrand Godin , Alain Menu