Homestead practice notes

Friday, February 28, 1997 Welcome to the season opener of the 12-race 1997 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship communications staff of James Hyneman, Blair Hefty, Anne Roy,...

Friday, February 28, 1997

Welcome to the season opener of the 12-race 1997 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship communications staff of James Hyneman, Blair Hefty, Anne Roy, and Judy Geiken-Hyneman will be available throughout the weekend to assist in your media needs. The $1.3-million 1997 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is the longest running (24 years) and richest open-wheel development series in North America and a primary training ground for future PPG-CART and Formula One drivers.

Three of the top-five active drivers in PPG-CART all-time victory rankings (Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and Paul Tracy) are Atlantic graduates.

Three of the top-seven finishers in the 1996 PPG Indy Car World Series are Atlantic graduates including Indy Car champion Jimmy Vasser, Indy Car championship runner-up Michael Andretti, and seventh-place finisher Bobby Rahal. Nine of the 16 PPG Indy Car World Series events were won by either Vasser (four wins) or Andretti (five wins). SCHEDULE Friday, Feb. 28 practice: 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. qualifying: 4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Saturday, March 1 practice: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. RACE: 4:15 p.m. 50 Laps/70 miles

TRACK: 1.40-mile/2.25-km six-turn road course-oval combination incorporating the front and back straights and turns one and two of the 1.51-mile Homestead Motorsports Complex oval track with a "dogleg" crossover of the road course. The "dogleg" replaces oval turns three and four.

RECORDS:        Qual: Lee Bentham  0:43.713-sec/115.89 mph   Ralt RT-41   3/96
                Race: Lee Bentham  0:41.961-sec/120.11 mph   Ralt RT-41   3/96

KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship races are televised in the United States, Canada, Europe, South and Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and to more than 140 other countries worldwide. In 1996, telecasts on ESPN2 in the U.S., CTV (English) and RDS (French) in Canada, ESPN International, and on the SBT Network in Brazil, reached more than 23 million viewers worldwide. U.S. TELEVISION:ESPN2 - - Sunday, March 9 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST

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What is the C2 Championship in the Player's/Toyota Atlantic Championship?

The C2 Championship is a separate competitive class for older Atlantic cars (Swift DB-4, and Reynard 89H to 93H). It affords new and veteran drivers alike the opportunity to compete in the a highly competitive and lucrative racing series, and within a comfortable budget.

Drivers of these cars are eligible for overall points and prize money with separate points that are awarded to determine the C2 champion. An additional point is also given to the highest C2 qualifier. The series contingency awards program also covers the C2 class. The top three finishers in the C2 Championship will be honored at the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship year-end banquet at Monterey, Calif., and the C2 champion will receive a year-end bonus.

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Practice Session:

7:50 a.m. - - Session starts under sunny skies, high humidity, and temperatures in the low 70s  29 Atlantic cars are on course.

8:03 a.m.  - -        #33 GODIN stops on the front straight with reported loss of power
 #96 SCHROEDER in                 turn three while taking evasive action to avoid
contact with slower cars  brings out                         YELLOW FLAG. 

8:10 a.m. - - Session resumes

8:46 a.m. - - Session ends with #34 BILL AUBERLEN, of Redondo Beach, Calif., fastest in the B.D.J.S.-prepared Ralt RT-40 at 0:41.985 = 120.04 mph.

#32 ALEX BARRON, of Vista, Calif., was second-fastest in the Lynx Racing-Victory Circle/Red Line Oil Ralt RT-41 at 0:42.011 = 119.96 mph.

#19 MEMO GIDLEY, of San Rafael, Calif., was third-fastest in the Lynx Racing-prepared Ralt RT-41 at 0:42.046 = 119.86 mph.

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#34 BILL AUBERLEN (B.D.J.S.) "It's great to be back in an Atlantic car. We're obviously looking for a little more grip coming onto the front straight, but the team has done a great job in very little time. We only had one test day at Talladega and that was mostly to make sure nothing leaked."

(Note - Auberlen's Ralt RT-40 is car 001, which was Stuart Crow's original car)

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#95 LEO PARENTE (P.P.I. - MCI Telecommunications) "We definitely improved  greatly improved. The car is competitive and at some point in time we'll be a major factor in the series. The team has worked hard, so every change they made has been in the right direction. It's paying off."

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#96 JERET SCHROEDER ((P.P.I. - MCI Telecommunications) "We've made a lot of improvements, but I think the qualifying session will be another story. I'm very happy with the improvements being made and I know this team is ready to do battle."

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Atlantic officials have announced that today's qualifying session has been changed from a single-car to a split-group qualifying session. The top-15 practice times from this morning will take to the track for the first of two 12-minute qualifying periods. The remaining 14 Atlantic cars will attempt to qualify during the second 12-minute session. Each group will receive an entire 12-minute session notwithstanding caution flags.

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"I like to fall as far as I can, because lets face it, if you pull real early and the shoot doesn't open, you're not going to enjoy the ride all the way down," said KOOL/Toyota Atlantic competitor Case Montgomery when talking about why he waits until the last possible second to pull the rip cord when skydiving. "If you pull as late as possible, and the shoot doesn't open at least you've enjoyed it for the time you've been falling."

Montgomery, driver off the Microsoft/Wall Data Ralt RT-41, first took the plunge in May of 1995 after thinking about it for some time. But when he decided to jump, he had to do it that day. "I woke up and decided I had to do it today, or I would never do it," he explained.

He called a skydiving company near his Salinas, Calif., home and told them he wanted to jump that day. After a quick course in skydiving, he made his first jump from the incredible height of 16,800 feet with a group of experienced divers. "I told the instructor, I want maximum falling time in case this thing (the parachute) doesn't open. I want to at least enjoy it."

Montgomery describes the free fall as a "rush." But how does falling at 120 miles per-hour compare to driving a race car at 140 mph? "There's no comparison," said Montgomery who finished fourth in last year's Atlantic Championship. "Driving a race car you have absolutely complete control; you're destiny is in your own hands. When you're falling you don't really have to do anything, just hang."

He has made a total of 25 jumps since 1995. The feeling of jumping out of the plane for the first time and trying to catch his breath is his most memorable skydiving experience.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Lee Bentham