Palm Springs, Calif. (August 14, 2000) â€“ World Speed rookie Akihiro Asai will be joined by a new teammate at Road America, Andy Lally will be driving the ...
Palm Springs, Calif. (August 14, 2000) – World Speed rookie Akihiro Asai will be joined by a new teammate at Road America, Andy Lally will be driving the #14 World Speed Motorsports/Northwest SpeedWerx swift on the famed road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for round nine of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series August 18 – 20, part of the Motorola 220, CART FedEx Championship weekend.
This weekend, Lally will make his racing debut in the Atlantic series on the same road course that World Speed Motorsports Team Owner Chuck West still holds a series record. Just a few of years ago West was behind the wheel making history on the 4.048 – mile road course. He walked away with a podium finish of 2nd place and set a track record for fastest lap in 1996, then in 1997 set an overall Atlantic-qualifying record. And now with Asai and Lally in the drivers’ seats, the World Speed team will strive for another top-notch performance.
“I’m really looking forward to Road America. I want to thank Chuck and Rick Waddell (Founder of Northwest SpeedWerx) for giving me this opportunity. Road America is a great course,” said Lally, who just a month ago ran at Road America in the Grand Am Series driving a Lola in the SRII race setting the 3rd fastest race lap. “We should have a good run this weekend. I hope to repay Chuck and Rick with some decent results.”
Most recently, Lally has been splitting his seattime between three different series, in which he has been a top performer in each. Lally is currently second in the battle for the “Rookie-of-the-Year” title in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and is 4th overall, excluding two missed races at the beginning of the season.
Just a few weeks ago at Mosport Race Park, Lally captured the checkered flag in the Motorola Cup Series driving Comprep Racing Team BMW 328. That same weekend, Lally finished 5th in the U.S. F2000 National Championship Series. “We’re real excited about putting Andy in the car,” said Waddell, “not only does he have a winning track record, he also exemplifies the role of Northwest SpeedWerx in assisting young, talented drivers without the financial resources to climb the CART ladder.” Northwest SpeedWerx was established to identify aspiring young drivers and assist them with the resources and promotional guidance to move their careers forward through participation in a multi-year driver development program. Focusing on CART’s ladder system, including the Toyota Atlantic Championship, the goal of Northwest SpeedWerx is to train the next generation of drivers for competition in the CART FedEx Championship.
Lally’s racing roots begin in go-karts, in which he celebrated 50-plus feature victories from 1988 to 1994 before moving up to win two World Karting National Gold Cup Championships. In 1995, Lally was named the NESCCA “Rookie-of-the-Year” title setting the stage for a NESCCA Series points championship the following year, scoring 10 SCCA Club Racing national victories, starting from the pole 15 times, while also setting 8 track records earning more points that 586 other drivers who made up the 1,627 race entries for that series.
In 1997 and 1998, Lally continued to move up the through the ranks of professional racing finishing 4th and 5th overall in the U.S. F2000 National Championship Series while clinching the “Rookie-of-the-Year” title. Last year he was chosen as one of the top three young formula-car drivers in America by a panel prominent racers, earning the Valvoline Team U.S.A. scholarship award affording Lally the opportunity to compete in the European Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series where he finished 5th overall. Asai rejoins the World Speed team at Road America. He most recently ran as high as 6th at the Molson Indy in Toronto until mechanical problems prevented him from crossing the finish line. “I’m ready to get back into the car. We were so close in Toronto, but that’s racing. I’ve never driven at Road America, but I’ve been told it’s very smooth,” said Asai. “That will help out in the turns. I think it will be a really good race for us.”
A native of Tokyo, Japan, Asai began his career racing go-karts at age 15, when he raced in the Japanese National Kart Championship, winning at Sugo. After a few years in karts, Asai traveled to the states to attend a five-day course at the Skip Barber Formula Dodge racing school, where he became hooked on formula cars. “My first real formula car experience was at Skip Barber. It was a great feeling, the car felt so solid,” said Asai. It was at that time that he began racing professionally. In 1994, Asai participated in the ESSO/Formula Toyota Championship where he earned top honors as the highest-ranking rookie (eighth). From there Asai competed in the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula 4 Championships, scoring the victory from the pole while making his Formula 4 racing debut. Asai continued to break records and earn victories, winning two and claiming six of 12 wins and six pole positions in the Eastern Formula 4. He was also the first driver, in the Formula 4 to win on the Motegi road course, after the track opened in 1998.
Last year, Asai completed a full season in Australia with the Formula Holden Australian series, where he finished fifth in the championship. His most memorable moment in Australia was at the Adelaide Street Course where he finished fourth after starting 18th on the grid while setting the fastest lap.
World Speed Motorsports is considered one of America’s most dynamic racing organizations, featuring entries in CART’s Toyota Atlantic Championship, as well as the Star Mazda Pro Series. Founded in 1991 by West, World Speed initially focused on the Formula Mazda series where West finished third overall and won the Rookie-of-the-Year title in his first season as an owner/driver. 1992 resulted in the series championship by virtue of West’s five wins, ten podiums and three track records.
Since then, World Speed has captured six Formula Mazda championship and five pro series Rookie-of-the-Year titles under West’s guidance and Doyle’s engineering expertise, featuring such drivers as Ben Massey, Pete Wise, Mike Conte, Mike Miller, Jeff Bucknum and Grant Ryley.
Last year in Atlantic, World Speed campaigned French-born Brazilian Nicolas Rondet, who averaged a top five running position at every race and captured a podium finish in Trois-Rivieres.
This weekend’s CART Toyota Atlantic activities begin Friday, August 18, with Atlantic practice at 9:30a.m. followed by the first qualifying session at 1:40 p.m. Saturday, August 19 commences with Atlantic practice at 9:10 a.m., followed by the second qualifying session at 12:55 p.m. Race day, Sunday, August 20, begins with a 15 – minute warm-up session at 8:25 a.m., before the start of the 17-lap Atlantic race at 10:30 a.m. All times are Central.
The Road America race will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN International, Saturday, August 26 at 4:00 p.m. and on RDS, Saturday August 26 at 8:30 a.m. All times are Eastern.
Round ten of the 12-race CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season takes place at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, Saturday, September 9, part of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey CART FedEx Championship weekend.