CHAMPCAR/CART: Lopes named Racing Operations VP

DETROIT (September 4, 2001) - Looking to retain an individual with racing experience on a variety of levels, Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that it has named John Lopes Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the open-wheel...

DETROIT (September 4, 2001) - Looking to retain an individual with racing experience on a variety of levels, Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that it has named John Lopes Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the open-wheel racing sanctioning organization.

Lopes, whose most-recent experience is as general manager of an open-wheel racing team, will begin his tenure with CART on Friday, as the FedEx Championship Series heads to Europe for races on September 15 at Germany's EuroSpeedway at Lausitz and September 22 at Rockingham Motor Speedway in England.

Lopes' responsibilities will include managing CART's logistics and race operations; overseeing all race technologies; managing the pace car program; maintaining and building relationships with CART's manufacturers; and chairing both CART's Rules and Technical Committee as well as the CART Franchise Board.

"The search for the right individual for this position took several months and was very extensive and I am extremely pleased we are able to bring John Lopes on to lead our Racing Operations," said Joseph F. Heitzler, CART's chairman and CEO. "He has a varied background and one that has given him an in-depth understanding of racing on all levels. He started as a tire carrier and crew member for a NASCAR team and worked his way up over 11 years to managing all aspects of a race team, including dealing with drivers, engineers, mechanics, sponsors, manufacturers and sanctioning organizations.

"When you couple John's racing experience over the past several years with his experience prior to that as an Army aviation officer, a businessman and an attorney dealing with sports-related matters, you have a terrific combination. It will allow John to effectively lead the area that deals directly with many of the core issues related to our racing product. We look forward to John joining the CART team."

Lopes is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, following his tenure as a Company Commander in the U.S. Army, he attended Duke University School of Law, when he received his degree in 1993. His time in the Southeast allowed him to become involved in motorsports and his passion for racing moved him to pursue a motorsports career.

"It's a great honor to begin service at CART and I welcome the challenges presented to me by Joe Heitzler and the Board of Directors," said Lopes. "My primary role is to provide leadership and direction for CART's Racing Operations.

"My first priority will be to hire an individual from within the CART Community to oversee CART's technical program. Joe and I have spoken in great detail about the depth of talent within CART's teams and staff and I look forward to working with them to shape CART Racing Operations into a team that is every bit as outstanding as the race teams in our garage area.

"Additionally, I will be focused on growing CART's relationships with its manufacturers and helping to improve CART's relationships with its teams and drivers. CART is only as strong as its teams and it's my intention to do everything I can to help build CART's racing product."

Lopes most recently has served as general manager and general counsel for TeamXtreme Racing in the IRL. The multi-car team was formed in 1998.

As part of the new structure, Tim Mayer, who has overseen the CART racing operations group, moves into a new position in the Chairman's office, where he will continue to serve in a Senior Vice President role to Heitzler, managing several major, high-priority programs and projects.

"The addition of John and Tim's move into the Chairman's office strengthen our management team and give us a strong and solid focus as we prepare to implement CART's newly defined direction," said Heitzler.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, November 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership among Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the largest paydays in all of motorsports. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series title.

Champions Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser are among the drivers who battle for the FedEx Championship Series title on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

-CART-

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About this article
Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi