CHAMPCAR/CART: CSOT: Ladder system adds "Mentor Program"

"CART Mentor Program" for Ladder System Drivers unveiled. DETROIT (APRIL 10, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (CART), in conjunction with its Driver Development Ladder System, announced today the creation of the "CART Mentor...

"CART Mentor Program" for Ladder System Drivers unveiled.

DETROIT (APRIL 10, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (CART), in conjunction with its Driver Development Ladder System, announced today the creation of the "CART Mentor Program," a Marketing and PR program that will place the rising stars of CART directly in front of key CART FedEx Championship Series and Toyota Atlantic team personnel as well as sponsor decision makers. When implemented, the top drivers in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship and Barber Dodge Pro Series will spend complete race weekends with teams in the series one step above their present location on the CART Ladder.

Drivers will attend and take part in every aspect of a race weekend, including debriefings, engineering sessions and team meetings, plus press and sponsor events, when applicable. They will be in pit lane with headsets during all practice, qualifying sessions and races. Toyota Atlantic drivers will be hosted by specific CART FedEx Championship teams, while Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers will be hosted by Toyota Atlantic officials, who will slot them with specific teams as the weekend progresses. The Mentor Program schedule will coincide with off weekends for the two series, thus giving the drivers full ability to utilize this unique access.

The program's purpose is twofold. First, it is designed to place drivers in front of team owners/managers and vice versa. Second, it is designed to give Ladder System drivers a rare, first-hand view of life at the next level of racing. Overall, the program is meant to increase the line of communication between drivers and teams and expand the future opportunities for the drivers of the CART Ladder System.

"I am extremely excited about the CART Mentor Program and its major goal of bringing our young Ladder System drivers together with key team personnel, including owners and team managers," commented CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "The Mentor Program is a natural extension to our complete driver development system, the only one in motorsports. I truly believe this will help open the lines of communication and give these drivers a unique insight. I applaud everyone in the CART community for supporting the Mentor Program and look forward to watching it grow over this season and beyond. Very simply, these drivers are our future and we are going to do everything we can to help them succeed."

For drivers in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, their Mentor Program will occur during the CART FedEx Championship Series race weekends at Vancouver and California Speedway. For Vancouver, participants chosen will be the Toyota Atlantic point leader after the Chicago race event and an at-large invitation. For Fontana, the 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion plus an at-large invitation will be chosen to participate.

For drivers in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, their Mentor Program will occur during the Toyota Atlantic race weekend in Chicago and the CART FedEx Championship Series weekend at California Speedway. For Chicago, participants chosen will be the BDPS points leader after the Laguna Seca race event and an at-large invitation. For Fontana, the 2002 BDPS champion plus an at-large invitation will be chosen to participate.

At-large invitations will be chosen by a yet-to-be-announced selection committee. Any ties in the points will be decided by using the season championship tiebreaker rules. In addition to the formal weekends above, all Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge drivers will be invited to participate in mentor events throughout the season, whereby they will be introduced to key team personnel and be in the pits with the team during a qualifying session or race. Drivers will be selected on an availability based criteria.

"Everyone at the Toyota Atlantic Championship welcomes and is excited about the CART Mentor Program, both from the perspective of our drivers spending time with Champ Car teams as well as hosting Pro Series drivers with us," said Vicki O'Connor, President and CEO of the Toyota Atlantic Championship. "In my opinion, there is no better way for our up and coming drivers to become familiar with the next rung on the ladder and the next step in their careers. At the same time, it is just as crucial for teams at both levels to get to know these young drivers."

"First let me say that this mentoring program is another example of how the CART Ladder is growing stronger by the day," said Skip Barber Marketing and Communications George Tamayo. "Furthermore, as hopeful racers progress up that ladder, they will have been exposed to the technical, marketing and public relations skills that it takes to be the commodity in racing that is most sought after -the complete package. Skip Barber is proud to be a part of that process."

Among those Champ Car teams that have already committed to participate in the full Mentor Program are Newman Haas Racing, Herdez Competition, Walker Racing, Fernandez Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Team Green has committed to participate in the less formal Mentor events.

"Having a defined ladder system to the CART FedEx Championship series not only helps many aspiring and talented drivers reach their goal but also ensures that the series continues to showcase the most talented and up and coming drivers who are competitive on road and street courses, oval tracks and Superspeedways," said Newman/Haas Racing General Manager Brian Lisles. "Newman/Haas Racing is pleased to be part of this process."

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. CART also sanctions the Barber Dodge Pro Series as part of a marketing partnership with Skip Barber, LLC. For more information about the CART Ladder System, log onto www.cart.com and click on the links to the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series, Formula Dodge National Championship and Stars of Tomorrow.

--CART--

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About this article
Series Atlantic , Barber Pro , IndyCar , Kart
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Skip Barber , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing