Fast Facts Lynx Racing in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Support Races at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach -- Saturday, April 7 *- Owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx Racing is the most unique team in auto...
Lynx Racing in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Support Races at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach -- Saturday, April 7
*- Owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx Racing is the most unique team in auto racing today -- a championship-winning driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental and spiritual growth as well as on-track skills. *- Lynx Racing, now in its 11th year, has graduated three drivers to CART: Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley. *- Lynx is the odds-on favorite to win the Atlantic race - the team, with Gidley driving, won in the rain and finished second last year with current Lynx Atlantic driver David Rutledge. *- Lynx driver Sara Senske is the fastest-rising female star in open-wheel auto racing, driving her first race at age 7, winning her first race at 8 and her first championship at 9. She is racing this weekend in the 'Pro' division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.
Lynx Racing, one of the most unique teams in auto racing today, will have three fast-rising young racing stars competing in the support events that are part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 6 - 8. David Rutledge and Michael Valiante will compete in the CART Toyota Atlantic series race, the final stepping-stone before moving up to a CART champ car. Rutledge finished second in this race last year in his third outing as a Lynx driver, and this will be Valiante's first race with his new team. Both drivers are from Vancouver, B.C. Sara Senske, who normally drives in the Barber Dodge Pro Series - the next step below Atlantic on the open-wheel racing ladder - will step into the cockpit of a race-prepared Toyota Celica as a driver in the 'Pro' division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. All three drivers are part of a unique, championship-winning racing team/driver development program owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. Lynx Racing is now in its 11th year, and the team's mission is to seek out drivers with championship potential but no money and provide them with funding, equipment and training in both mental and on-track skills - and help them make the jump to the top levels of auto racing. Lynx graduates include Patrick Carpentier, now driving for Player's/Forsythe as well as Alex Barron and Memo Gidley, CART's two 'super subs.' "We almost won this race last year, and with all the testing we've done, what we've learned about the car and what I've learned about myself as a driver, I think we'll be the team to beat this year," says Rutledge. "The Atlantic series gets more competitive every year, and the driver who wins the championship this year will be well prepared to make the jump to champ cars. It's a battle I'm looking forward to fighting, and a step I've been working all my life to take." Rutledge is 22 years old, and 2001 is his second year with the Lynx Racing team. In the 2000 season, he won from the pole at Montreal and scored four podium finishes, placing him sixth in the series championship. He drives the aqua and yellow #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a. "I drive every race to win, but this will be my first race in an Atlantic car and my first time at Long Beach, so it should be a real education as well," says Valiante. "Working with a team the caliber of Lynx Racing has been a real eye-opener because the level of professionalism is so high that you feel a real sense of confidence every time you get in the car. And when you're doing a hundred and forty miles an hour between concrete walls, that's a good feeling." Valiante is 21 years old, and is an international karting champion who has raced the previous two seasons in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Last year, he scored eight top-10 finishes, two poles and one win. He drives the black and yellow #95 Lynx Racing / Italian Motors Swift 008.a with additional sponsorship from Diagem, ItalKart and NewLife Development. "For an open-wheel driver, racing a production-based car is both an interesting experience and a step forward in your education," says Senske. "It demands a different driving style and different mental posture, but I found I was able to adapt fairly quickly and I put that down to the training I've gotten in my five years with Lynx. There's a social aspect to this kind of race as well, and I'm meeting people, movie and TV stars as well as athletes, who've been favorites of mine since I was a kid - but that won't stop me from putting 110% effort into beating them once the green flag drops." Senske, 21, is from Kennewick, Washington, and is in her fifth year as a Lynx Racing driver. She started racing karts at age 7, won her first race at 8 and her first championship at 9. She has previously raced in the Star Formula Mazda and Women's Global GT series, and is now in her second season as a regular competitor in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Both the CART Toyota Atlantic and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity races take place on Saturday, April 7. The 45-minute Pro/Celebrity race takes the green flag at 12 noon, while the 32-lap Atlantic race is scheduled to start at 3:15. The Pro/Celebrity race will be televised on ESPN, Saturday, April 28 at 3 pm ET. The Toyota Atlantic race will be aired on both ESPN2 and ESPN International, Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm ET,