Award winners announced for 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season INDIANAPOLIS (October 2, 2003) - In a black tie gala at the Hyatt Regency Miami on Sunday evening, the 30th Anniversary celebration of the CART Toyota Atlantic...
Award winners announced for 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season
INDIANAPOLIS (October 2, 2003) - In a black tie gala at the Hyatt Regency Miami on Sunday evening, the 30th Anniversary celebration of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama officially drew to a close as participants, sponsors, series officials and members of the media gathered to honor 2003 series champion A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) and his RuSPORT team on a record-breaking season, as well as the winners of all of the season-ending awards.
Allmendinger was the night's big winner, as he collected a points fund payout of $126,630 for being the series champion in 2003. The rookie also earned a $1,000 cash award from Ohlins, USA, as well as the keys to a new Toyota passenger vehicle, and his choice of Yokohama passenger, performance, or light truck tires. He also received an original painting by motorsports artist Jim Swintal depicting his championship season, and a checkered flag signed by all of the series officials. In addition to his prizes for winning the championship, Allmendinger also won the $10,000 BG Products Rookie of the Year Award, and the $5,000 MCI Fast Pace Award for turning the fastest lap in a season-high seven events.
Some of Allmendinger's RuSPORT teammates also received awards for their efforts throughout the season. The architect of Allmendinger's many great performances throughout the season, engineer Burke Harrison received the prestigious Engineer of the Year Award for the second consecutive year, while lead mechanic Joe Kerrigan took home a $2,500 gift certificate from Snap-on and will also receive a Snap-on toolbox for winning the Snap-on Top Wrench Award. The team also received a set of Yokohama commercial tires for its team transporter for winning the series championship.
Championship runner-up Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) also had a profitable night. The Scot earned a points fund bonus of $110,250 for his efforts, as well as a cash award of $750 from Ohlins, USA and his choice of Yokohama passenger, performance or light truck tires. Dalziel's Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, shock technician Eric Crowder, received the first-ever Ohlins Shock Technician of the Year Award and a cash award of $500.
Finishing third in the championship was third-year driver Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing). The Canadian was rewarded for his efforts with a points fund bonus of $101,430, as well as $500 from Ohlins, USA, and his choice of Yokohama passenger, performance, or light truck tires. In addition, Valiante was also named as the recipient of the Michael Rosen Trophy, which was instituted by Arlene Rosen in honor of her late son, Michael, a former Toyota Atlantic competitor. The award recognizes dedication and perseverance, as well as the desire to succeed.
Canadian Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings) finished fourth in the championship and earned points fund bonus of $91,450. Macri was also presented with the first Argent Mortgage Company Most Laps Completed Award, in recognition of the fact that he was the only driver in the series to have completed every lap of the 2003 season. Macri's Polestar Atlantic, LLC teammate, mechanic Constantin Gheorghe was honored as the Lincoln Electric Mechanic of the Year and received as Lincoln Electric Square Wave T175 Welding Package.
By finishing fifth in the championship standings, RuSPORT rookie Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) took home a points fund bonus of $77,490. Team Rahal's Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) collected a points fund bonus of $68,670 for finishing sixth in the championship, and also received the $3,500 BBS Rising Star Award.
Seventh place finisher Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports) claimed a $68,040 payout, and was also honored as the 2003 recipient of the Jovy Marcelo Sportsmanship Award named in honor of the late 1991 Toyota Atlantic champion and was presented by Jovy's father, Eddie Marcelo. Hand's DSTP Motorsports owner Dede Rogers was also honored and drew a standing ovation from the capacity crowd as she was named 2003 Team Owner of the Year.
Second-year driver Luis Diaz (#33 Dorricott Racing/Telmex) finished eighth in the championship and pocketed a bonus of $55,440. The Mexican also received the Gilles Villeneuve Award, named in honor of the great 1976 Atlantic champion and Formula 1 star, for possessing extraordinary ability and that special star quality and who has distinguished himself through sportsmanship, dedication, and perseverance in the face of disappointment.
Pacific Coast Motorsports driver Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Pearl Vodka) finished ninth in the championship, earning a points fund bonus of $54,810, while 17-year-old Kyle Krisiloff (#7 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) took home $48,510 for finishing 10th in the championship.
Paul Hasselgren and Hasselgren Engines, whose engines powered many of the top contenders in the championship, were honored with the Toyota Racing Develoment Engine Builder of the Year. The total amount of the award is $10,000 in TRD parts credit that is shared among the engine builders and is distributed based upon the points earned under the CART Toyota Atlantic Manufacturers Championship.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and the top rung on the CART Champ Car "Ladder System." The series boasts $100,000 race purses and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from Atlantic are current Champ Car competitors Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Roberto Moreno, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rodolfo Lavin, as well as former Champ Car champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.