Atlantic series purchased by Ben Johnston

Atlantic Racing Series, LLC Purchased by Atlanta Businessman Be Johnston BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 31, 2008) - On the heels of an outstanding, 35th anniversary season of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, ...

Atlantic Racing Series, LLC Purchased by Atlanta Businessman Be Johnston

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 31, 2008) - On the heels of an outstanding, 35th anniversary season of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, which wrapped up at Road Atlanta earlier this month, the series' future has been solidified as it was announced today that Atlanta-area businessman Ben Johnston has purchased Atlantic Racing Series, LLC from Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

"It is very exciting to play a part in the future of such a historic racing series," Johnston said. "The Atlantic staff and teams are the best racing has to offer and we are honored to have the continued sponsorship of Cooper Tires and Mazda. It will be a fantastic season."

Johnston, 53, also owns Alpharetta, Ga.-based Media Brokers, Inc., which specializes in media planning and buying. He is a long-time road racing enthusiast and owns eight regional titles in SCCA Atlantic competition. Johnston also made one start in the Atlantic Championship in 2005.

"I am absolutely thrilled that Ben has stepped forward to ensure the Atlantic series' position as the longest-running open wheel driver development series in North America will continue well into the future under his ownership," said Atlantic Championship President Vicki O'Connor. "At the same time, I must thank Kevin Kalkhoven and Jerry Forsythe for their outstanding support and ownership of the series over the past several years, and for ensuring the series' operation in 2008. Likewise, we are indebted to our wonderful partners in Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Mazda North American Operations for their contributions to making the 2008 season a reality and we look forward to continuing those relationships well into the future as well. We literally couldn't have done it without them or the fantastic teams and drivers that made this one of the most competitive and memorable seasons in Atlantic history."

The series will continue to operate out of its Brownsburg, Ind. headquarters under the leadership of O'Connor, who has helmed the Atlantic Championship since 1985. The series plans a schedule of 10 to 12 events for 2009, with an official schedule announcement expected shortly. Also expected in the near future is an announcement regarding television coverage for the 2009 season.

Series partners Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Mazda North American Operations applauded the sale to Johnston. Mazda just completed its third season as the series exclusive engine supplier and sponsor, while Cooper Tire wrapped up its second season as presenting sponsor and official tire.

"Cooper Tire is thrilled to have Ben on-board as the series owner," stared Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tire. "His vision for the series is a breath of fresh air, and Cooper Tire looks forward to working closely with Ben and the other series partners for a successful 2009 season."

"The Atlantic Championship is the top rung of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder," added Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda's North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. "We have greatly enjoyed our past three years with the Atlantic Championship and are looking forward to continuing that partnership with Cooper Tires and the new series owner. We greatly appreciate the heritage of the series. Our team members have been attending Atlantic races as far back as 1976 and we want to do our part to carry on the tradition."

The Atlantic Championship is the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America and celebrated its 35th Anniversary season in 2008, with Finnish rookie Markus Niemela taking the series championship in the final race of the season. The series is noted for its long history of graduating its drivers into the top levels of motorsport throughout the world, including IndyCar champions such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, Jimmy Vasser, Greg Ray, Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon, Indy 500 winners such as Sullivan, Rahal, Villeneuve, Buddy Rice, Wheldon and Hornish, and Formula One world champions such as Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg. In 2008, Atlantic graduates battled for race victories and championships in top North American series such as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in addition to various other series all over the world. Learn more about Atlantic at www.atlantic-championship.com.

-credit: atlantic championship

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Danny Sullivan , Buddy Rice , Keke Rosberg , Gerald Forsythe , Ben Johnston , Kevin Kalkhoven , Robert Davis , Markus Niemela , Sam Hornish Jr.