Guy Smith to Pilot the No. 17 Rocketsports Lola in the Champ Car World Series
LANSING, Mich. (August 3, 2004) -- Guy Smith, winner of the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours, will make an exciting return to open-wheel racing with Rocketsports Racing. The 28-year-old Englishman will join the Michigan-based team, owned by Paul Gentilozzi, in Round Eight of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford at Road America on August 8, 2004 to drive the No. 17 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone.
"This has been a long time coming so I'm over the moon about the opportunity Rocketsports Racing has given me", commented a delighted Smith. "I did Indy Lights a few years ago with the intention to move up the ladder, but at the time the openings weren't there. I fell into sports cars and had a fantastic few years, not least with the win at Le Mans. That win though, also served to fire me up again as I had reached the pinnacle of sports car racing, so it was time for a new challenge. It feels great to do something new and, although I know it will be tough in such a competitive series, I can't wait to get stuck in."
Rocketsports Team Owner, Paul Gentilozzi, commented: "I'm happy to welcome Guy Smith to the Rocketsports team to drive the No.17 car. I was impressed when I first met Smith in the 2002 Daytona 24 Hours, where he finished second overall. He earned his first Le Mans 24 Hours win in 2003, and I watched as he finished on the podium in Le Mans again this year.
"Smith has demonstrated his stamina and skill as a driver in diverse categories and series," added Gentilozzi. "He's fast and has started from pole many times in his career. He produced competitive results in the Indy Lights Championship, where he won Rookie of the Year (1998), and was recognized and invited to test Champ Cars in 1999. He'll have a solid, dedicated crew behind him and we're excited to have him join us at Road America."
Smith began his motor racing career in karting as a boy. By 1995 he was well-established in single-seater racing and dominated that year's competitive Formula Renault Sport Championship, winning the title and a test with the Williams F1 team. Two seasons in the British F3 Championship followed and Smith won his first ever F3 race from pole position.
Smith then headed across the Atlantic to the Indy Lights series in the United States where he finished third in the 1998 Championship and lifted the coveted "Rookie of the Year" title. Smith remained in Indy Lights in 1999 in order to make the progression up to what was then called the CART series. In his time with Indy Lights, Smith drove for Tasman Motorsport, the team that spawned such driving greats as Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Cristiano da Matta.
In 2000 Smith decided to make a change and moved into sports car racing in the American Le Mans Championship with Johansson Matthews Racing. He also had his first taste of the Le Mans 24 Hour race that year and claimed another Rookie of the Year award.
At that time, Team Bentley were about to embark on a three-year program to win Le Mans, and Smith was snapped up to join the squad. The rest is history as Smith won the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours, arguably the world's most prestigious race, alongside the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.