CHAMPCAR/CART: Walker Racing will compete in 2004

To all the naysayers who thought Open Wheel Racing Series co-owner Paul Gentilozzi was a madman to suggest that there would be 18 cars on the 30th anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach grid next week, here's a message: You were...

To all the naysayers who thought Open Wheel Racing Series co-owner Paul Gentilozzi was a madman to suggest that there would be 18 cars on the 30th anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach grid next week, here's a message: You were wrong!

Today, Walker Racing announced it will join the 2004 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford with sophomore Mario Haberfeld at the wheel of their #5 Cummins-sponsored Reynard/Ford- Cosworth/Bridgestone racer.

"We are looking forward to competing in the Champ Car World Series in 2004," Walker said. "It has been a long winter, now it's time to go racing." Only yesterday, Walker was unwilling or unable to respond to any questions of whether he would be in Long Beach next week. While credential forms sat waiting his signature, Walker still smiled and said nothing.

In addition to regaining the primary support of Cummins, Inc., Walker Racing will once again team with Holset Turbochargers, Fleetguard and Onan for the full 2004 Champ Car season, thus restoring a partnership that successfully ran cars for Robby Gordon and Gil de Ferran during the 1994-99 period.

Walker Racing, located on the north side of Indianapolis since 1990 has also gained the participation of LaunchPoint Technologies. The California- based company develops new technologies, incubates startups and provides sophisticated engineering services.

"We appreciate the decision of LaunchPoint Technologies to join Walker Racing for 2004," Walker said, introducing the Venture Engineering firm. "We look forward to a long and successful relationship."

Haberfeld has the benefit this year of having driven all Champ Car venues, familiarity with his equipment and a fast, aggressive demeanor on the track that likely reminds Walker of Gordon. "I'm very happy to be back in Champ Car for my second year," Haberfeld noted. "This season will allow me to build upon the experience gained with both the cars and circuits from last year."

The likable 27-year-old Brazilian, a former British F3 champion with vast F3000 experience, made all 18 starts last season with Conquest Racing. His best start (St. Petersburg) and finish (Germany) were both in fourth place and Haberfeld earned 12th in the final standings.

2004 marks Walker Racing's 14th season of competition in the Champ Car arena, and they've notched four wins and 10 pole positions, finishing 1997's campaign with driver Gil de Ferran in runner-up slot to champion Alex Zanardi.

Owner of one of Champ Car's longest running teams, Derrick Walker has been a member of the board of directors of the former operating company, CART, recusing himself last summer. He was also a member of the creditors' committee that delineated options for Federal Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Otte this past January.

With Walker's entry, the Champ Car World Series goes into its first race of the 2004 season very much alive. For the 30th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach there will be 18 viable cars on the grid.

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