Reigning champion gets Champ Car ride

Reigning Star Mazda Champion Inks ChampCar Deal Michael McDowell to pilot Rocketsports entry in final two races of season October 14, 2005. Monterey, California. On the anniversary weekend of his championship success in the 2004 Star Mazda...

Reigning Star Mazda Champion Inks ChampCar Deal
Michael McDowell to pilot Rocketsports entry in final two races of season

October 14, 2005. Monterey, California. On the anniversary weekend of his championship success in the 2004 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, Michael McDowell announced today that he has been signed to a deal with the Rocketsports ChampCar effort to compete in the final two rounds of the ChampCar World Series.

"This is an extreme opportunity that goes well beyond any racing driver's wildest dream, and for that I'd like to thank the men who made it possible, Rob Finlay and Paul Gentilozzi," says McDowell. "I also owe thanks to my Finlay Motorsports co-driver Memo Gidley, the fittest, fastest driver I know for setting a standard of personal and professional excellence that gave me the strength to believe I could do this. And thanks also to Finlay Motorsports team manager and driver coach Steve Cameron, and engineer Rick Cameron for helping make me into a driver that can be an asset to two top teams in two top series. I'll do my very best to make sure that everyone involved agrees this was a good idea."

McDowell, from Glendale, Arizona, charged through the Star Mazda ranks, finishing second in the 2003 championship, capturing Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the process, then returned in 2004 to claim the crown for himself with seven victories and eight pole positions in the ten-race championship. He moved up to the Grand Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class in 2005, and became the youngest driver ever to finish on the podium at a Rolex Series event when he and Gidley finished 2nd in the Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park on July 31st.

"I consider Michael McDowell to be the finest young American driving talent racing in North America today," says team owner Rob Finlay. "He's just 20 years old, he's already won a championship in a highly competitive open-wheel series, and he has a bright career ahead of him. His performances this season in the Finlay Motorsports Rolex Series Daytona Prototype against some of the best and most experienced drivers from around the world demonstrate clearly that he is a champion in the making, and I'm delighted to help provide him with this opportunity to showcase his talent with a competitive and professional Champ Car team like Rocketsports."

With a mission to help develop and promote the next generation of American driving champions, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear has focused on providing drivers with a level playing field. The single-make series, featuring an Elan Motorsports Technologies carbon fiber chassis, a 240-horsepower Mazda Renesis rotary powerplant, and a six-speed sequential gearbox, makes the driver the key ingredient to success, and McDowell used the platform to standout from the crowd.

"Michael came highly recommended to us from Rob Finlay and others in the racing industry," said Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi on how the deal came about. "He shows great potential and the desire to learn to be competitive in anything he races. We are looking forward to the next two races to allow him to get comfortable with the car and crew in preparation for 2006. His eagerness to be in the race car and to win, along with the team's desire to put Rocketsports back in to victory circle should prove to be a winning combination."

McDowell will drive #31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth Bridgestone Lola in the final two rounds of the 2005 Champ Car season -- the Lexmark Indy 300 on October 23, and the Gran Primo de Mexico on November 6. He will also continue as co-driver, with Champ Car veteran Memo Gidley, of the Finlay Motorsports #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation / Commercial Defeasance Dinan-powered Riley Daytona Prototype in the final race of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Season, the Mexico City 250 on November 5.

The 2005 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear wraps up this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with three drivers, Raphael Matos, Robbie Pecorari, and James Hinchcliffe, all vying for the title. For more information on the Star Mazda Championship please visit www.starmazda.com.

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Memo Gidley , Paul Gentilozzi , Michael McDowell , Robbie Pecorari , Rob Finlay , James Hinchcliffe