$1 Million Champion's Prize Highlights $3 Million in Prize Money for 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (February 4, 2009) - The 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will feature a $1 million prize to the series champion as part of $3 million in prize money, series officials announced today.
The $1 million champion's prize is the most lucrative championship payout in a North American open-wheel driver development series. The driver who finishes second in the 2009 Atlantic Championship will receive $500,000, with the remaining $1.5 million to be paid out in per-event race purses.
"This is a significant prize package that should attract top drivers from all over the world to the Atlantic Championship this season," said Atlantic Championship President Ben Johnston. "The $1 million champion's prize is not a scholarship. This is $1 million in cold hard cash that the champion may use in whatever way he or she sees fit. Likewise, the $500,000 prize for the driver who finishes second in the championship far exceeds what most other driver development series pay out to their champions, while the $1.5 million in per-race purses makes every race an opportunity for the drivers to win big money."
Last year, the Atlantic Championship offered $1.6 million in prize money, with $300,000 going to series champion Markus Niemela. With nearly double the prize money available in 2009, it is expected that the increased prizes will be a major incentive to help Atlantic teams to recruit drivers.
In addition to the $3 million prize package, bonus and contingency prizes will continue to be offered in the 2009 Atlantic Championship, including the $1,000 Cooper Tire Pole Award for the fastest qualifier at each race. The Cooper Tire Pole Award has been a mainstay in the Atlantic Championship since Cooper joined the series as presenting sponsor and official tire in 2007.
The 12-race 2009 Atlantic Championship will get underway on Friday, March 20 at Sebring International Raceway in support of the prestigious Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida for the American Le Mans Series. The series will run seven weekends alongside the American Le Mans Series, while "headlining" events at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club in suburban Chicago. The Atlantic Championship runs alongside both the American Le Mans Series and the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of August 8.
Atlantic Championship graduates have won races and championships at the highest levels of motorsport, including Formula 1, IndyCar and Champ Car, and sports cars. In 2009, Atlantic graduates will again be top competitors in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the American Le Mans Series, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and even the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series among many others.
The Atlantic Championship is the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America and celebrated its 35th Anniversary season in 2008, with Finnish rookie Markus Niemela taking the series championship in the final race of the season. With a $1 million champion's prize and a total of $3 million in prize money up for grabs, the 2009 Atlantic Championship offers one of the most lucrative prize packages in North American open-wheel racing. The series is noted for its long history of graduating its drivers into the top levels of motorsport throughout the world, including IndyCar drivers such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Graham Rahal and Raphael Matos, Formula One world champions such as Jacques Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger and sports car stars like Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney, Michael Valiante, Joey Hand and Simon Pagenaud. Learn more about Atlantic at www.atlantic-championship.com.