DETROIT (October 1) - Paul Tracy (1990 Indy Lights champion) scored the milestone 30th with for a PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship graduate in FedEx Championship Series competition in the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, September 26.
Tracy joins Bryan Herta (1993 Indy Lights champion), Greg Moore (1995 Indy Lights champion), Adrian Fernandez (1992 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year), Tony Kanaan (1997 Indy Lights champion) and the retired Andre Ribeiro (1994 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year) as graduates of "CART's Official Development Series" who have won in CART's big show.
"It has been a good year for Indy Lights grads in the FedEx Championship Series," said Indy Lights President Roger Bailey. "Paul's win in Houston brought the series to a significant milestone and is one of six wins by former Indy Lights drivers in Champ Car competition this year.
Tracy also won on the Milwaukee Mile and joins Moore (Miami), Fernandez (Japan), Kanaan (Michigan) and Herta (Laguna Seca) as former Indy Lights drivers who have won in CART this season.
Tracy earned the first win for an Indy Lights driver in CART competition at Long Beach in 1993. He has won half of the races Indy Lights grads have captured in Champ Car competition and 1999 is his fifth multiple-victory season in CART.
Moore has five CART wins, Fernandez has four victories and Ribeiro won three times before leaving the series at the end of 1998. Herta's two wins have been earned in the last two races at Laguna Seca while Kanaan's last-lap victory at Michigan was his first.
Following encouraging tests with its own drivers Didier Andre (Motorola/PlayStation Lola) and Tony Renna at Sebring in August, PacWest Lights will put four more PPG-Dayton Indy Lights drivers though Champ Car runs next week at the Putnam Park road course outside of Indianapolis. Series front runners Oriol Servia (Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola), Casey Mears (Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola), Philipp Peter (Red Bull/Remus/ESTEBE Lola) and top rookie Scott Dixon (Speedbet/Diagem Lola) will each have a full day behind the wheel of PacWest Mercedes-Benz Reynard. The race car is the same 1998-spec chassis fitted with a 2000 Reynard gearbox that Andre and Renna drove.
"Didier and Tony did an excellent job four us at the Sebring test, and we wanted to give other Indy Lights guys a shot at driving a Champ Car," said PacWest's Vice President of Racing Operations John Anderson. "The focus is on developing the new gearbox but it's a good opportunity for these young drivers to get some seat time in a Champ Car. I don't think that Champ Car teams are supporting the Indy Lights drivers or the series as well as they should. I'd like to see other CART teams do more to encourage our home-grown talent, regardless of where these jokers may have been hatched."
Mears takes to the wheel first on Monday, October 4, and will be followed by Dixon, Peter and Servia testing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Plans call for each driver to get a full day on the road course.
Servia leads Mears by 14 points, 130 - 116, in the PPG-Datyon Indy Lights Championship with only the season-ending race at California Speedway to be run on October 31. Peter is third in the standings while Dixon is fourth and leading the rookie standings.
"We are extremely grateful to PacWest for giving so many of our young drivers an opportunity to test a Champ Car," Bailey said. "By the end of next week, PacWest will have run six Indy Lights drivers, more than any other FedEx Championship Series team has ever tested. We know that, if given the chance, our guys can stack up against the world's best and we thank Bruce McCaw, John Anderson and everyone at PacWest for making this possible."
Servia and Mears were among the attendees at this week's announcement of the new Aruba Motorsports Complex facility that will be built on the Caribbean Island. Construction of the new permanent road course commences immediately with the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship scheduled to end the 2000 season there on December 3. The facility will also host separate races for the Trans-Am and American Le Mans Series in its first season of operation.
Nearly 200 media and motorsports VIPS attended the event which was hosted by veteran race operator Ralph Sanchez who is building the facility with Aruba partners through his new company, Motorsports Americas, Inc. The project has the full support of the Aruba government.
Both Mears and Servia visited with the press throughout the event with Servia, who is from the Catalonia region of Spain, spending ample time with media from Venezuela, Panama, Brazil and other countries.