EXPECTING TO FLY - Lynx Racing, has won the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship two years in a row, and both champions, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, were immediately signed by CART teams and will be racing at Medic Drug Grand Prix of ...
EXPECTING TO FLY
- Lynx Racing, has won the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship two years in a row, and both champions, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, were immediately signed by CART teams and will be racing at Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland...
- Lynx Racing's 1998 drivers, Memo Gidley and Buddy Rice, have won the first four races of the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic season...
- The team will be making a mid-season switch to new cars; from proven Ralt RT-41 to new Swift 008.a...
- Lynx, the most successful 'driver development' program in racing today, is owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty...
Lynx Racing, operating from its mid-season base in Chardon, Ohio, has won the last two KOOL/Toyota Atlantic championships in a row -- and the first four races of the 1998 season, three for Memo Gidley and one for rookie Buddy Rice. Gidley leads the championship while Rice is in fourth.
The team comes to the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland expecting to fly... although hopefully not in quite the same way it did in this race last year.
In last year's race, Lynx drivers Alex Barron and Memo Gidley arrived in Cleveland running 1 - 3, respectively, in the championship battle, and qualified 2 - 3. During the race, an attempt by both drivers to occupy the same corner at the same time saw Gidley's car launched high into the air over the wheels of Barron's car. Fortunately he came down on all four instead of his head, and Barron went on to finish 3rd while Gidley came home in 8th. The race was won by Player's driver Bertrand Godin.
"It was a wild ride, and it taught me a useful lesson about close-quarter racing," says Gidley, 28, of Novato, California. "I really like the Cleveland track because it rewards good car setup, which is a Lynx specialty, as well as aggressive driving and the ability to control a car while it's skipping over bumps at high speed. With my background in motocross and karting, that's a driving style at which I'm particularly proficient. Our biggest challenge for the weekend will be to get our new Swift Atlantic cars up to speed with other teams that have been running them since the start of the season."
Fortunately things got better for the team after Cleveland. Barron scored five victories during the 1997 season, won "Rookie of the Year" and the Atlantic series championship. He followed in the footsteps of the team's 1996 champion, Patrick Carpentier (the 1997 CART Rookie of the Year), by being quickly signed by a CART team; Barron will drive in the main show at Cleveland for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers while Carpentier drives for Player's/ Forsythe.
The other player in last year's drama, Memo Gidley, won two races during the season, finished second in the championship and won the hotly-contested "Player's Challenge" for the driver scoring the most points during the four Canadian races on the series' 12-race schedule.
Gidley chose to return for a second year with Lynx Racing, and will be teamed at Cleveland with a remarkable rookie named Buddy Rice. In the first four races of the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic season, Rice was on the pole in his first-ever Atlantic race at Long Beach, but it was Gidley who won in the rain.
In the second race, at Nazareth, Rice was again on the pole, and came home the winner. Gidley responded with back-to-back victories on the ovals at Gateway and Milwaukee. In the fifth race of the season, Montreal, Rice finished third while Gidley DNF'd with a broken gearbox on the third lap.
"I like technical, high-speed tracks, and from what I've seen of Cleveland, it qualifies," says Rice, 22 of Phoenix, Arizona. "It's kind of a wacky schedule with us not getting on track for the first time until the end of the day on Friday, followed by two qualifying sessions Saturday morning. That's going to give an advantage to guys who've raced here before, but the determining factor will be which team can get their cars properly set up the soonest. And the Lynx Racing crew are masters at that, so I'm comfortable with our chances in the race."
The Lynx duo is currently first and fourth in the points; Gidley has 74 and Rice has 56. In between are Andrew Bordin with 70 and Montreal winner Lee Bentham with 58.
Beginning Thursday evening in Cleveland, Gidley and Rice will be appearing at the KOOL promotional event and autograph session at Panini's Gateway Bar & Grill, located at 840 Heron, near the baseball stadium. Drivers will be signing autographs, and KOOL will have their totally cool side-by-side CART racing simulator on hand so patrons can race each other, and win a chance to race against the Lynx drivers.
On-track activities for the Atlantic race, the full and proper name of which is "The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented By The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame," will begin an unusually late practice session at 5:05 p.m. Friday afternoon. Two qualifying sessions will be held Saturday morning, the first from 8:00 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. and the second from 11:25 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.
The 30-lap, 71.07-mile Atlantic race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The race will be televised on ESPN2, Sunday, July 19, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., with repeats on Sunday, August 9 at 4:30 a.m. and Thursday, August 13 at 5:00 a.m.
The next event on the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic schedule of 13 races for 1998 is the Molson Indy Toronto, July 18, a race Memo Gidley won last year.