A New Star Joins The Constellation "Well done is quickly done" - Caesar Agustus Lynx Racing, one of the most unique and successful driver development programs in motorsports, today announced its driver lineup for the 2001 season -- ...
A New Star Joins The Constellation
"Well done is quickly done" - Caesar Agustus
Lynx Racing, one of the most unique and successful driver development programs in motorsports, today announced its driver lineup for the 2001 season -- including two returning rising stars and an intriguing new addition. Second-year Lynx driver David Rutledge, 22, of Vancouver, B.C. will contend the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship in the #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a while fifth-year Lynx driver Sara Senske will return to the seat of the #19 Lynx Racing Reynard 98E in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Lynx will also field a car in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship for Michael Valiante, 21, also of Vancouver, B.C. Valiante, an international karting champion and standout for the past two seasons in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, will run at least six high-profile Atlantic events in 2001, including the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and season-ending Grand Prix of Monterey, as well as the four Canadian events (The Air Canada Grand Prix of Montreal, Molson Indy Toronto, Grand Prix du Trois Rivierés and Molson Indy Vancouver). Valiante will drive the #95 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a sponsored by Italian Motors, Diagem, ITALKART and NEWLIFE Development. "This is a great opportunity for me and I'm very happy to be associated with a team the caliber of Lynx Racing," says Valiante. "Lynx is a very well-established, professional program that will let me focus on my driving and help me take it to the next level. David and I are good friends, so I think we'll be good teammates, which is another big plus. I have a couple of sponsor possibilities that would allow me to run more races, and we're going to follow up on those in the next few days, but aside from that I'm going to put my head down and concentrate on fitting in with the team and preparing for the first race." Valiante got his professional racing career off to a spectacular start, winning the Canadian and North American 'Formula A' karting championships in 1996. In 1997, he won the prestigious ELF Constructor's Championship, as well as the U.S. Grand Nationals and the IKF Gold Cup series. Moving up to racing cars in 1997, he attended both the Skip Barber and Bridgestone racing schools. In 1998 he won the ELF Campus Shoot-Out in Le Mans, France, the North American 125 Shifter Formula C championship, and the ELF Constructor's championship. This resulted in a full-season scholarship in the Skip Barber 2.0 Series, where he won both Rookie of the Year and the series championship. This spectacular performance earned him the Rio Big Scholarship, a fully-sponsored, full-season ride in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. During his first year in the 1999 BDPS, he scored seven top-10 and four top-5 finishes and was co-Rookie of the Year. In 2000, he finished in the top-10 eight times, was on the pole in the first race of the season at Sebring, and won from the pole at Road Atlanta and finished sixth overall in the championship. "Michael and I have come up through the ranks together, and I look forward to having him as a teammate," says Rutledge. "We've made a lot of changes to the team structure and personnel in the off-season so we're back to being lean and mean. The testing we've done has been very productive, so we've also made tremendous progress in developing the Swift Atlantic car. And I've been working out every day and going karting several times a week, so I'm in the best shape mentally and physically that I've ever been. This is a team that's ready to win a championship, and we can't wait to get started." During the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season, Rutledge scored four podium finishes and won from the pole at Montreal. He finished sixth in the championship. "It's exciting to see the progress Lynx is making, and I've made my own personal breakthroughs toward the end of last year and over the winter that give me reason to look forward to the new season," says Senske. "Like David, I've moved down to Sonoma to work more closely with the team. The Barber Dodge Pro Series will be sanctioned by CART this year, so I'll be competing at more of the same weekends as the Atlantic team and that will be a big help to me. Being a Lynx Racing driver is the greatest opportunity a young driver could hope for, and this will be the year that I prove I can become the champion they see in me." In 2000, Senske ran the full schedule of Barber Dodge Pro Series races, scoring one top-10 finish and finishing 19th in the championship. She will run in BDPS again in 2001, and during off-season testing has been consistently in the top three. She has also been invited to run in the professional division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and is a candidate to join the CART pace car team. "Each one of these drivers is a rising star with the potential to go all the way," says Lynx team manager Steve Cameron. "David and Sara have been with Lynx for a while now, and we know their capabilities and expect them to be in the championship hunt for both series this season. We tested Valiante for the Lynx ride at the end of 1999 and were very impressed but thought he needed a bit more seasoning in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. We watched him during the 2000 season and saw how fast he was and how quickly he matured both as a person and a driver. We're happy to have him with the team and would like to thank his sponsors for helping make it possible. The races he will run in 2001 were chosen both for the exposure they offer and the experience they will give him. We have an option on Michael at the end of the season and hope to have him with us full time in 2002." Lynx Racing crew chief Rick Cameron will engineer the cars of both Rutledge and Valiante during testing sessions, but on race weekends, he will focus on Rutledge's #19 car while team manager Steve Cameron works with Valiante's #95. Both cars will be prepared equally, and setup data will be freely exchanged between cars and drivers. "This is a very strong driver lineup, and the team has that special electricity that only comes when they know each of the drivers is a winner," says Lynx co-owner Peggy Haas. "We'd like to welcome Michael to the team and look forward to helping all three of them achieve their goal of becoming champions at the top levels of auto racing." 2001 marks the 11th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx is both a championship-winning racing team and a uniquely successful driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental, psychological and spiritual growth in addition to their on-track skills. The Lynx mission is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest levels of the sport and provide them with the funding, equipment and training to take the last step toward realizing that potential, a process the team calls 'Destiny by Design.' Lynx alumni include CART FedEx drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley. "The chemistry of a team is very important, and it's difficult to get just the right mix, but the changes we've made, including bringing in Michael Valiante, should return us to the championship-winning form we're used to," says Lynx co-owner Jackie Doty. "Michael is an extremely talented driver, and while this season will be a learning experience for him, he'll also be a big asset to David's campaign for the championship. In the past year David and Sara both learned lessons of how to be single-minded winners on the track and well-adjusted, grounded human beings off the track. Our program uses a variety of methods, from informal chats and advice to visualization and meditation, to help drivers develop both sides of their personality -- because it takes both to be a true champion, and that's what Lynx is all about."
- Peter W. Frey