Panasonic revs up for season-opening race.
MIAMI, Fla. (March 1, 2003) - The Number 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone makes its inaugural run this weekend, as the sixteen-race Indy Racing League (IRL) 2003 season opens at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 2. Panasonic, one of the world's leading manufacturers of innovative electronics products, to include OEM and aftermarket automotive equipment and systems, recently concluded a multi-year sponsorship agreement with the up-and-coming Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Team.
"As primary sponsor of the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Team, Panasonic is proud to have this opportunity to compete in the challenging IRL IndyCar Series, to include the internationally-recognized Indianapolis 500 race, and to help support the objectives of the ARTA Project," said Vince Sarrecchia, President of Detroit-based Panasonic Automotive Electronics Company which markets multimedia, environmental and safety-related products for OEM automotive use. "We see this as a marriage of some of the most respected names in our respective fields, and one which is sure to help grow interest in IndyCar Series racing and electronics."
The Panasonic car will be piloted by Rookie-of-the-Year challenger Roger Yasukawa. Twenty-five year old Yasukawa of Los Angeles was the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series Co-Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the championship in 2001. In 2002, he graduated to the Toyota Atlantic series and won a round on the Milwaukee oval in just his second career start in the series. He also scored more points on ovals than any other driver in the series last season.
Former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki, one of Japan's most successful Grand Prix drivers, joined with CART star Adrian Fernandez to form the new Super Aguri Fernandez Racing IRL team. Since retiring from racing in 1995, Suzuki has helped to promote young Japanese drivers through the Autobacs Racing Team Project (ARTA), which has developed programs in Japan, Germany, France, and, last season, in the U.S. in the Toyota Atlantic series.
"I am very grateful to Panasonic for sponsoring Super Aguri Fernandez Racing," said Suzuki. "We are a rookie team with a rookie driver in IRL, so it will be a big challenge for us this year. Our goal is to win the trophy in the Indy 500 and the series championship in the future."