INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 13, 1999) - Team KOOL Green announced today that two-time Barber Dodge Pro Series champion Jeff Simmons will drive one of Team KOOL Green's Lolas in the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. Simmons will team with 1999 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Jonny Kane and will be joined by his brother Chris, who will work as his race engineer during the coming season.
Jeff Simmons, of East Granby, Connecticut, became the first driver to win back-to-back Barber Dodge Pro Series titles last season, after becoming only the second driver to win the series championship as a rookie in 1998.
"This is my best Christmas present ever," said the 23 year-old Simmons. "I'm looking forward to working with (team manager) Lou Schollum, Jonny, my brother Chris and the whole team. Team KOOL Green is a thoroughly professional organization and the fact that Jonny won the Rookie of the Year this past season shows they're ready to challenge for the title and another rookie of the year award."
A former national Quarter Midget champion, Simmons competed in the Barber Formula Ford and Formula Dodge series as well as the US FF2000 National Championship before moving into the Barber Dodge Pro Series competition where he earned six wins and 18 top five finishes in his two championship seasons. In November, Simmons competed in England's Palmer-Audi Winter Series for Team USA, finishing eighth overall.
"We're delighted to have Jeff as a part, a big part, of our Indy Lights effort," said team owner Barry Green. "He's not only been a champion, but a double champion, in one of the most competitive open wheel series in the country, and we think he's capable of producing the same kind of results in Indy Lights."
The announcement represents something of a homecoming for Chris Simmons, who competed in the 1996 and '97 Indy Lights championships with Team KOOL Green, earning two poles and four podium finishes and finishing sixth in the '97 championship. Chris plans to move from his home in Connecticut to Indianapolis where he will join Eddie Jones on the Team KOOL Green Indy Lights engineering staff.
"It's great to be back with Team KOOL Green, although obviously in a different capacity," said Simmons. "The objective is still the same, however: winning. Jeff and I have worked together throughout his career and we developed a good understanding when I engineered his car the past two seasons in Barber Dodge. Our goal is to transfer that understanding and that success to Indy Lights next year."
The addition of Jeff and Chris Simmons to the team gives Team KOOL Green the distinction of having three "brother" acts on its roll call, including Barry Green and general manager Kim Green, and Champ Car mechanics Keith and Kris Badger.
Simmons and Kane will begin Team KOOL Green's Indy Lights test program in January.