Panther to field Pro Series team in 2003; Taylor to drive.

JOLIET, Ill., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002 -- 2001 Indy Racing League champion Panther Racing will expand to field a team in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series in 2003, with Mark Taylor driving.

Taylor, 24, from London, will run the full season in the Indy Racing League development series for Panther, which fields IRL cars for 2001 champion Sam Hornish Jr. and rookie Dan Wheldon. Taylor drives for Manor Motorsport in British Formula 3 this year.

"We've always wanted to grow the team, and we've taken our time," said Gary Pedigo, Panther co-owner. "We've never wanted to do anything if you can't do it right. With this program, we're going to do it right."

Taylor has earned two victories this season in British F3, both at Silverstone. He is sixth in the series point standings.

"Coming over to America was the best opportunity for me for next year," Taylor said. "I was very excited to talk with (Panther co-owner) John Barnes about the Infiniti Pro (Series) and with the prospect of working with Panther Racing. As far as next year, working with them is the best thing because I want to move into the IRL, and this series is a good way of getting into that."

Taylor also drove in British F3 in 2001, finishing ninth in the series standings. He won the European Formula Ford championship and finished second in the British Formula Ford championship in 2000.

He raced in British Formula Ford in 1999 after racing in Formula Vauxhall Junior in 1998.

The seven-race, inaugural Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series season started in July at Kansas Speedway. Infiniti Q45 engines power new Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 650-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the Indy Racing League.