New And Returning Atlantic Teams Putting Programs Together For Annual Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach INDIANAPOLIS (March 23, 2005) -- There will be some familiar faces and plenty of new blood in the mix when the 32nd season of the...
New And Returning Atlantic Teams Putting Programs Together For Annual Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach
INDIANAPOLIS (March 23, 2005) -- There will be some familiar faces and plenty of new blood in the mix when the 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama gets underway April 8-10 with the crown jewel on the 2005 calendar -- the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Several teams have already announced their '05 driver lineups in the Atlantic series. Top returning teams Brooks Associates Racing and Polestar Racing Group will each field two-car programs with Brooks running Brazilian Fernando Rees and 2004 Formula BMW champion Andreas Wirth, and Polestar also carrying a dynamic duo in Canadian hot shoe Antoine Bessette and talented British racer Katherine Legge. McAtee Motorsports recently announced that it has joined the series this year with a two-car effort for Brian McAtee and Kyle Kelley.
A number of other teams have also solidified their plans for the upcoming season and several more have announced programs that are in place for the opening race of the year in Long Beach.
One of last season's surprises as a rookie driver, Tonis Kasemets, will return to the Atlantic field in '05 with a full-season effort. After a couple of off-season Champ Car test sessions, Kasemets will compete for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis in the championship class while Dan Cobb will pilot a C2 entry for the team this season. Jensen Motorsport will return for its eighth season in the series with owner/driver Eric Jensen behind the wheel, while 2004's C2 championship team -- Binder Racing -- will return with another owner/driver, Cam Binder, trying to defend his title.
Established sportscar road racer Chris Dyson, who made his Atlantic debut in '04, also returns to the series this season. Thetford/Norcold Dyson Racing will kick off the year at Long Beach and will contest several more Atlantic events in 2005. Olsson Engineering will be back on the grid with talented C2 competitor Tony Loniewski returning for his second season.
Looking to make a strong run in the expanded C2 class this season, Mark Ishikawa will make his series debut at Long Beach as he brings the Ishikawa Racing Group team to the Atlantic series and plans to run the majority of races on the '05 calendar.
Longtime Atlantic competitor P-1 Racing will bring a familiar face to the Atlantic paddock in Long Beach as former series standout Rocky Moran Jr., a two-time Atlantic race winner, returns to the track with his old team.
After making his Atlantic debut at Long Beach last season and winning the C2 class at the race he followed so closely growing up in Southern California, Justin Sofio returns to try and make it two wins in a row on the streets of Long Beach. Sofio has worked as a mechanic in the series for several years and still serves in that capacity on the Binder Racing team, but he'll make his second career Atlantic start next month on the popular 1.968-mile street circuit with sponsorship from Bare Elegance/Valley Ball.
Two drivers who made their first career starts in Atlantic last season at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will return to compete in this year's race. Dan Selznick will run for The Room Store team while Tom Nastasi will compete in C2 for Black Forest Motorsports. Newcomer Ben Johnston will also compete in a Black Forest Motorsports car at the opener.
Veteran racer Bob Siska will field a C2 entry at the Grand Prix with RJS Motorsports while Lee Atkins will make his first Atlantic start for Atkins Racing, also in the C2 class. The US Racetronics team will also field a rookie C2 entry as young Roby Feazell will also make series debut at Long Beach.
Several other teams are also trying to put together programs for the 12-race 2005 season and additional announcements are expected in the next week or so.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Current Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andrew Ranger are also established Toyota Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year A.J. Allmendinger. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.toyotaatlantic.com.