INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 27, 2002) - Red Bull Cheever Racing general manager Richard Caron announced today that Tomas Scheckter will drive the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti in the 2002 Indy Racing League series.
"The speed at which Tomas adapted to oval racing is impressive," Caron said. "After only one day of testing at Las Vegas, he went to California Speedway and was fastest of the day in the Test in the West. At the more technical Phoenix oval, his European training allowed him to work efficiently with our engineers producing times in the top five.
"He is similar in driving style and determination as Eddie (Cheever)," continued Caron. "This was a difficult decision considering all the talent on the market right now, but Cheever and Scheckter are a perfect mix for this team."
Scheckter will team with 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. at Red Bull Cheever Racing. Both will drive the Dallara chassis with the dynamic blue Red Bull paint scheme. The cars will be powered by the Infiniti Indy V8 engine and use Firestone tires.
Cheever will drive the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti, while Scheckter will drive the No. 52 car in the team's campaign to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League championship.
"There is no science to hiring a driver," Cheever said. "Whatever decision you make is a gamble. Tomas did very well in testing, but he is still an unknown. What we do know is that he is single minded and determined to do everything necessary to be successful in racing. The fact that he is in the best physical condition of any driver we tested is proof of that. His focus is so intense he is truly the only driver in the history of the IRL with serious Formula One aspirations."
Scheckter, 21, is the son of 1979 Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter and successfully followed the traditional European training ground for drivers: racing karts, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and eventually Formula One as a test driver for Jaguar Racing. He was the runner up in the 2001Formula Nissan Championship and the 2000 British Formula 3 series. He also won two races in the 2000 FIA Formula 3000 series.
"Joining Red Bull Cheever Racing is an unbelievable opportunity," said Scheckter, who will champion for the IRL's Rookie of the Year title this season. "Two months ago I never would have imagined I would be in this position. I am lucky to be driving in the Indy Racing League with one of the best teams on pit lane."
Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the Indy Racing League team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships with the world's leading energy drink Red Bull, Nissan North America's Infiniti Division, TWR Group, and Lincoln Financial Group greatly enhance the team's resources and technology. For more information, visit www.cheeverindyracing.com.