Chris Pook, CART President and CEO "The CART Ladder System provides the foundation for motor racing's future and few other developmental programs offer the benefits or can boast the success of what has been achieved in CART's training ground ...
Chris Pook, CART President and CEO
"The CART Ladder System provides the foundation for motor racing's future and few other developmental programs offer the benefits or can boast the success of what has been achieved in CART's training ground formula. Although critics have tried, you can't argue with the success rate of a program that cultivates our talent and provides the sport's young hopefuls with the means and ability to move into Champ Cars and beyond. The proof of the program's success can be seen in the lineups of not only the CART FedEx Championship Series, but in other motor racing series around the world, as drivers in Formula 1, American Le Mans Series and NASCAR have learned their craft in the CART Ladder System."
Vicki O'Connor, President, CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Series
"The response to a recognized Ladder System has been tremendous and something that has long been needed within open-wheel racing. I expect that with the expansion of the program next season, the importance and results of the program will be even greater. The 2002 season must be judged as a huge success. One of the most positive portions of the program has to be the CART Mentor Program which brought Atlantic drivers Jon Fogarty, Michael Valiante and Jonathan Macri to a race weekend with Champ Car teams Newman/Haas Racing, Team Green and Fernandez Racing, and Barber Dodge drivers A. J. Allmendinger and Marc Breuers participation at Chicago Motor Speedway as part of the Hylton Motorsports and Lynx Racing Teams."
Les Unger, Toyota National Motorsports Manager
"Toyota has been involved as the engine supplier for the past 14 years and feels that the Toyota Atlantic Championship provides an invaluable training ground for young drivers who wish to pursue additional opportunities at the very highest level of open wheel racing throughout the world. Current and past Atlantic participants such as Bobby Rahal, Jacques Villeneuve, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani, and Patrick Carpentier have continued to distinguish themselves in CART and Formula One. The ability to drive nimble, ground effects Atlantic cars provide an excellent opportunity for both drivers and crews to fine tune their skills under a variety of different venues....ovals, road courses and street circuits. Toyota is extremely confident that a sizeable number of "the stars of tomorrow" will continue to graduate "with honors" from the most highly visible, competitive, and cost effective open wheel ladder series in the world."
Gerald Forsythe, Owner of Player's/Forsythe Racing
"Driver development is the cornerstone of the CART FedEx Championship Series. We've had a number of drivers come up through the ranks over the years and take their place among the best open-wheel racers in the world. I look at our own Player's/Forsythe team and you have Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani who both excelled in the Atlantic series and graduated to Champ Cars. With the CART ladder program reaching all the way down to the grassroots level and the Stars of Tomorrow program, we are continually grooming future talent, and that is crucial to the success of your product."
Carl A. Haas, Co-Owner of Newman/Haas Racing
"There is a crop of unknown young drivers that have the potential of being future winners as well as Champions. They however, require more experience and also need a platform to show their potential. A Ladder System of Barber Dodge and Toyota Atlantic is ideal. Over the years, many of our star drivers came through Formula Super Vee, Formula 2000, Toyota Atlantics and then Indy Lights. The Barber Dodge Pro Series and the Toyota Atlantic series are positioned to provide the same type of Ladder System that helped drivers such as Cristiano da Matta, Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve, among others, gain experience along the way to becoming world-class drivers."
Skip Barber, Founder, Skip Barber Racing School
"After more than 25 years of developing drivers myself, it is incredibly gratifying to see the creation and refinement of a complete driver development program like the CART Ladder System. Through the partnership with Skip Barber, CART has created a comprehensive driver development system that has the right formula at every level. Under (President and CEO) Chris Pook's head, CART has assumed a tremendous leadership position and dedication to the Ladder System, demonstrated by its backing of the Ladder System with both human and financial resources. A driver's path to the top level of motorsports has never been more clearly defined."
Adrian Fernandez, CART Team Owner and Driver For Fernandez Racing
"The CART Ladder System is a proven success story for many drivers in Champ Cars today. It was my introduction to American motorsports and a stepping stone to getting into Champ Cars. I was able to show what I could do [Fernandez claimed four wins to finish third in the championship and earn Rookie of the Year honors in Indy Lights] in front of an important audience, which included team owners that I had hoped to drive for in the future. Add in the fact that you have an opportunity to learn the tracks that the Champ Cars were competing on and introduce yourself to the fan base, it was a win-win situation."
Art Michalik, Director, Marketing Communications, Yokohama Tire Corporation
"Without a doubt, Toyota Atlantic is the preeminent open wheel development series in the country. It is a fitting and appropriate final step in the CART Ladder System for drivers moving on to the FedEx Championship. At Yokohama Tire Corporation we derive great value from our participation in the series, in terms of the ability to host our dealers who sell our products at events, as well as through brand building with the consumers who witness the events in person and on television."
Cristiano da Matta, Current CART FedEx Championship Series Points Leader
"I moved from Europe to become a driver in the Indy Lights series in 1997 because it was the natural progression to the CART Champ car series and there was lots of opportunity there. The experience I gained in the series was very important as well the fact that owners in the CART FedEx Championship Series paid attention to the performance of the drivers. Many of the Champ Car drivers competed in the Indy Lights series or Toyota Atlantics before moving to Champ Cars and a few Formula One drivers participated in the CART Ladder System too. It's good to see CART focusing attention on building and improving the Ladder System because it is the future of the sport."
Patrick Carpentier, Champ Car Driver and 1996 Toyota Atlantic Champion
"I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the driver development program that Player's ran in the 1990s and for developmental series such as Atlantic where you can refine your raw talent as a driver. Actually, all of the racing series that you compete in along the way are helpful in honing your skills. That's why CART's involvement in so many developmental series is fantastic for the growth of the entire organization. I really believe that the CART FedEx Championship Series has the best open-wheel drivers and with the Ladder system we should we seeing another great crop of drivers moving up to Champ Car in the near future."
Alex Tagliani, CART Champ Car Driver
"Climbing the CART ladder to Champ Car is quite a bit like going through the ranks to get to the major leagues in baseball or hockey. You have to serve an apprenticeship, develop your skills and learn your craft if you have any hope of someday making it to the top. I got starting in racing at a very young age with karting and then went on to Formula 1600 and 2000. But it was in the Atlantic series where I really started to get some structure. You learn so much in these Ladder series. Sometimes you can learn just from talking to other drivers. I remember when I was competing in the Atlantic series, David Empringham from Indy Lights came one day and talked to us about racing on an oval just before we were going to race on the Nazareth oval. His remarks were very helpful and he made a favorable impression on all of us that day. One of the things he said was, 'You can't do more than what the car can do.' Those words have stayed with me over the years."
Jon Fogarty, 2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion
"Learning about competition between teams was a big part. Lower ladder series like Barber Dodge Pro Series are really about driver versus driver. Toyota Atlantic takes it to the next step with driver talent being matched with good teams and a variety of approaches to the car set-up. Technically I learned a ton because the car is more sophisticated than anything I had driven before. You have to learn what the car wants, be able to identify it, and have to be able to convey that to the engineers. Then, on top of all the work you put in you have to drive the wheels off it. You learn that 10 or 12 or 14 hour days are usual on a race weekend. In short, success in the Toyota Atlantic Championship demands that you learn to effectively work with others and really dig deep within yourself. It is a stout championship, drivers, teams, in just about every way and I am really proud to have won it. If it wasn't all that it is I am sure I wouldn't feel as good as I do right now."
Phyllis Dorricott, Owner Dorricott Racing
"I believe the concept of the ladder system is a good one. My feeling, like most other endeavors, is that it is an educational process. We at Dorricott Racing have been very pleased with the drivers we have taken on board from the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Likewise, we would hope that our drivers moving on could have a similar experience with Champ Car teams."
AJ Allmendinger, 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion
"Being involved in the CART Driver Development System has been one of the keys to my career advancement. There are so many positives about the Ladder System, from the Barber CART scholarships to the competitive wheel-to-wheel racing to the every day involvement of CART. I have definitely benefited from my involvement in CART. Quite honestly, I'm not sure where I would be right now if it weren't for the CART Ladder and I look forward to continuing my path upward."
Rocky Moran Jr., CART Toyota Atlantic Driver
"In the Barber Dodge Pro Series you are really trained to put a lot of attention on your driving as the cars are so equal and you have 30 other teammates data to look at. It's also the most affordable way to get seat time and great exposure at some of the best tracks in America. Toyota Atlantics refines you even more as you get to be a part of the team experience while also learning all the technical aspects needed for Champ Car. I feel that the competitiveness of both of these series has totally prepared me to be a champion wherever I may go. As CART moves into the future, it will need to be bringing up the talented American drivers from the ladder series and I hope to be a part of that.
Joey Hand, CART Toyota Atlantic Driver
"From a driver's standpoint, the CART Driver Development System is by far the most competitive I have ever seen and getting better by the day. In the Toyota Atlantic Championship, there were 15 drivers at any given race that could have brought home the win. This is unbelievable and without a doubt ranks this series as one of the top, if not the top, development series in the world. In addition, the effort put in by the Atlantic and CART personnel is another key to the driver development system. The drivers are part of so many PR and marketing functions of our own and with the Champ Car teams, it truly helps get our name out to the motorsports community and racing fans."
Alex Gurney, CART Toyota Atlantic Driver
"I firmly believe I am ready to take the next step after being a part of an extremely competitive year of Atlantic racing. I don't think there is another series out there that challenges you more both driving-wise and on the technical side. I have always been a huge CART fan and now, I hope to have made enough of an impression to be part of the next generation of Champ Car drivers."
George Tamayo, Director of Marketing & Communications, Skip Barber
"Skip Barber is committed to carrying on its tradition of excellence in cultivating and training new driver talent and as such are enormously proud of our partnership with CART in making the $1 million Barber-CART Scholarship Ladder and CART Development Ladder a thriving reality."