Lynx Toronto pre-race notes

Teach Your Children Well "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." -- James Baldwin "Notes of a Native Son" -1961 Fast Facts -- Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge,...

Teach Your Children Well

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." -- James Baldwin "Notes of a Native Son" -1961

Fast Facts -- Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Michael Valiante and Sara Senske in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series support races at the Molson Indy Toronto, July 14 -- 15.

- Lynx will field three drivers at the Molson Indy Toronto -- Canadian Drivers David Rutledge, 23, and Michael Valiante, 21, both of Vancouver, B.C. and Sara Senske, 21, of Kennewick, Washington. Rutledge and Valiante race in CART Toyota Atlantic, the triple-A baseball of open-wheel auto racing. Senske runs in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the equivalent of college varsity.

- Rutledge has won two races so far this year -- Long Beach and Montreal -- both from the pole. Valiante, in his first two Atlantic races, finished fourth at Long Beach and second at Montreal. Senske's 2001 credentials include a sixth in the rain at Lime Rock and driving in the 'Pro' division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

- Lynx Racing, now in its 11th year, is one of the most unique organizations in auto racing, a championship-winning racing team and driver development program owned by women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. The Lynx program is unique in that it focuses as much a driver's mental, emotional and spiritual development as his or her on-track skills. Lynx graduates include Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Forsythe) and Memo Gidley (Target Chip Ganassi) as well as Alex Barron, Cart's new 'super sub.'

Lynx Racing graduate Memo Gidley was the focus of everyone's attention during his career-making drive for Target Chip Ganassi at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland.

But three sets of eyes were paying special attention, watching not only his on-track performance but how he handled his relationship with Ganassi and the team, how he spoke with the media, how he behaved on the victory podium.

It was a major educational experience for the three current Lynx Racing drivers, all of whom will be competing in this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto. David Rutledge, 23, and Michael Valiante, 21, both of Vancouver, B.C., will drive in the 35-lap CART Toyota Atlantic series race at 3:15 pm on Saturday. Sara Senske, 21, of Kennewick, Washington, will race in the 45-minute Barber Dodge Pro Series event on Sunday at 3:30 pm

Baseball metaphors best explain the position each series occupies on the ladder that leads to the top run of open-wheel racing. Atlantic is the triple-A series, while the Barber Dodge Pro Series is college varsity.

Lynx Racing's history at Toronto includes back-to-back Atlantic victories in 1996 with Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Forsythe) and 1997 with Memo Gidley (Target Chip Ganassi). Rutledge was moving quickly up through the pack in 2000 when he was taken out by a backmarker. Neither Valiante nor Senske has raced at this track before. Rutledge comes to the 2001 Molson Indy Toronto just two points out of first place in the championship.

Hoover Orsi, the winner at Cleveland, leads 74 to 72, with 20 points awarded for a win and seven races left on the schedule.

"I'll be driving what the team is calling 'Frankencar' at Toronto, something they built up out of parts from my primary car that got damaged in practice at Cleveland and the spare car we carry with us," says Rutledge, who drives the #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a. "It actually feels just as strong and handles just as well as the original, so we can proceed at full speed with our development program. Cleveland and Toronto require totally different driving styles and we'll be working on a trail-braking setup that lets me carry as much speed as deep into the turns as possible. Although it's very challenging, I quite like the Toronto track, and the team and I expect to do well there."

Rutledge's teammate, Michael Valiante is running a limited schedule of races, and despite having only competed in two events so far, he is third in the 'Rookie of the Year' battle. He started fifth and finished fourth in his first-ever Atlantic race, at Long Beach, and started from the front row and finished second in his second race, at Montreal.

"I'm excited to be racing in Toronto because it's a Canadian event and it's on live television, which is a big plus for a young driver trying to showcase his talent," says Valiante, who drives the #95 Lynx Racing / Copart Auto Auctions / Italian Motors Swift 008.a. "The closest I've come to racing at Toronto is karts at Shannonville, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. But I hadn't raced at Long Beach or Montreal either, so I'll do what I did to learn those tracks before the race -- keep going around the circuit on a scooter until the security guys throw me out or it gets too dark to see."

Sara Senske is the first female driver in Lynx Racing's history, and has been a member of the team for five years. Like Valiante, she is a graduate of the Skip Barber Racing School, and is in her second year of full-time competition in the Barber Dodge Pro Series where her best finish so far is a sixth in the rain at Lime Rock. She was knocked out of the Cleveland event on the first lap after being hit from behind by another car.

"I carried a lot of energy into the car at Cleveland, and didn't get to use any of it, so I'm revved up about racing for the first time in Toronto," says Senske, who drives the #19 Lynx Racing Reynard 98E. "I was running just a few tenths of a second off the pole time at the last couple of races, so I'm feeling confident of my ability to run with the fast guys.

With the Canadian fans so enthusiastic about young drivers on the way up, this would be a really good time to score my first podium finish, so that's my goal for the weekend."

2001 marks the 11th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx is both a championship-winning racing team and a uniquely successful driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental, psychological and spiritual growth in addition to their on-track skills.

The Lynx mission is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest levels of the sport and provide them with the funding, equipment and training to take the last step toward realizing that potential, a process the team calls 'Destiny by Design.' Lynx alumni include CART FedEx drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley.

The Molson Indy Toronto round of the CART Toyota Atlantic series will be televised live on SportsNet (formerly CTV) in Canada. It will air in the U.S. on ESPN2, and globally on ESPN International, on Sunday, July 22 at 10:00 am EST. The Barber Dodge Pro Series race airs on ESPN2, Wednesday, August 15 at 6:00 pm EST.

David Rutledge has a personal sponsorship from The Keg Steakhouse & Bar, a group of 82 casual, contemporary steakhouses spanning Canada from Victoria to Halifax. There are two location in Toronto, at 12 Church St. and 515 Jarvis St. The Keg is also expanding into locations in the U.S., including Washington, Oregon and Texas. For further information, please visit the company's web site at


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About this article
Series Atlantic , Barber Pro
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Hoover Orsi , Michael Valiante , David Rutledge , Alex Barron , Skip Barber , Chip Ganassi