DRIVERS SELECTED FOR TEST SESSIONS IN INAUGURAL CART WOMEN'S DRIVER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM HOMESTEAD, Fla. (February 9, 2000) â€“ Three top young female drivers have been selected to participate in test sessions marking the inaugural Championship...
DRIVERS SELECTED FOR TEST SESSIONS IN INAUGURAL CART WOMEN'S DRIVER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (February 9, 2000) – Three top young female drivers have been selected to participate in test sessions marking the inaugural Championship Auto Racing Teams' Women's Driver Development Program.
The drivers – Jenny Sheehy of Faribault, Minn; Sara Senske of Kennewick, Wash.; and Juliana Chiovitti of Sutton, Ontario, Canada – have been chosen to test a Toyota Atlantic race car at Buttonwillow Raceway, north of Los Angeles, on Feb. 15 and 16. The Toyota Atlantic series occupies a crucial position on CART's "Ladder System" of driver development.
Danica Patrick of Roscoe, Ill. was also selected as a participant, but due to her competition schedule will be unable to participate in the test sessions.
The test will be supervised by members of the Cal Wells-owned PPI Motorsports Team, winner of the 1999 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.
"We are delighted to be offering this talented group of female drivers an opportunity to exhibit their driving skills," said Andrew Craig, chairman and CEO of CART. "CART has one of the most open environments in all of sport, and this inaugural test session will give us the opportunity to broaden our outreach even further."
Sheehy, 28, has been competing in karting and motorsports since she was 8 years old. Her accomplishments include a World Karting Association national title, two World Karting Championships, over 15 national victories and over 50 top-5 finishes. In addition, she has won four regional karting championships and over 200 feature events.
"Jenny was very impressive when she attended our Derek Daly school recently," said Jeff Shafer, instructor at the Derek Daly Racing School. "She has the ability to adapt and improve quickly. After just a short time in the cars, she was right there in lap time with our quickest drivers."
Senske, 21, started kart racing at the age of 7. She owns three national kart championships and numerous regional and club championships. She made history at the American LeMans race at Road Atlanta as the first driver in 25 years to race open-wheel and Sports GT cars at the same road track in the same day.
"Sara did extremely well when she tested our Atlantic car," said Steve Cameron, team manager for Lynx Racing. "Fitness was not a problem and she was very good on the high-speed corners, where the car had some downforce. We enjoy working with Sara at Lynx Racing and are very pleased she was selected by CART to continue her open-wheel development."
Chiovitti, 18, began kart racing at the age of 6. She has hundreds of race victories and championships to her credit and this past November, represented Canada at the International Karting Federation World Cup in Suzuka, Japan.
"I've watched Juliana race this year and she's really good," said Team KOOL Green driver Paul Tracy, veteran of the CART FedEx Championship Series who finished third in the 1999 championship with a career-high 161 points. "She's not afraid to run with the best of them. She puts her kart right where she needs to."
Announced this past October 31, the Women's Driver Development Program allowed CART to work with one of the leaders in the world of women's sports, Lyn St. James, to identify the drivers who exhibited the potential to become open-wheel racers in CART's FedEx Championship Series. A racer with more than 20 years of professional experience, St. James raced in CART's Champ Car series from 1992 to 1995.
"The process of selecting the drivers for the inaugural test session was challenging. There were so many qualified candidates," said St. James. "One thing that really impressed me was that we had so many talented women drivers ready for the opportunity that CART's Women's Driver Development Program was offering."
"I believe Toyota Atlantic and Indy Lights are certainly excellent programs to develop the experience necessary to be a top open-wheel competitor. So this Toyota Atlantic test for these women drivers is an excellent opportunity."
During the test, the PPI Motorsports team, led by on-site manager Nick Harvey and race engineer Kyle Brannan, will make a series of changes to each car and evaluate how each driver responds to those changes on track. After the on-track tests, Harvey and Brannan will conduct individual debriefing sessions with each driver to ultimately assess her overall feedback, technical ability and performance in an Atlantic car.
Following the test session, each driver will be given a comprehensive, written evaluation of her performance that will assist her in her efforts to land drives, as well as sponsors, as her career progresses.