Cats At The Bullfight There's going to be a bullfight in Monterrey this weekend, and there will be a pair of fast, young cats right in the middle of it. Lynx teammates Michael Valiante and Grant Ryley are among the favorites to win the...
Cats At The Bullfight
There's going to be a bullfight in Monterrey this weekend, and there will be a pair of fast, young cats right in the middle of it. Lynx teammates Michael Valiante and Grant Ryley are among the favorites to win the 20-car bullfight that will be the season-opening CART Toyota Atlantic support race at the Tecate Mexico Grand Prix on March 9.
Both got their passion for racing from fathers who were drivers, both started racing when they were kids, and both now drive for Lynx Racing, a unique, championship-winning racing team/driver development program owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. Lynx is a 'finishing school' for top young drivers ready to make the jump to the top levels of auto racing. Lynx graduates include CART and IRL drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley.
Valiante, 22, of Vancouver, B.C., drove five races with the Lynx team during the 2001 season, scoring two podiums and finishing 9th in the championship. An international karting champion and graduate of the Skip Barber Pro Series, he replaces the graduating David Rutledge, who won three races from the pole last season, as the Lynx driver for 2002. Rutledge is currently holding talks with teams in CART, the IRL and the European F3000 series about moving up to the next level.
"This is going to be an incredibly competitive Atlantic season, and we're ready for it," says Valiante. "The field includes every hot young driver in open wheel racing today, and it's going to take a really strong team effort to win. Based on the off-season testing we've done and how well everyone is working together, I think Lynx will be the team to beat. A win from the pole in Mexico would be a great way to start, and that's what we're going for."
Ryley, 28, of Saratoga, California, will compete this year with sponsorship from Northwest SpeedWerx and the Kart2CART program as well as the family business, Cupertino Electric. He drove a full Atlantic season for another team last year, finishing on the podium twice, starting from the pole once and setting a track record. He finished 10th in the championship. Ryley's racing resume includes bicycles, motocross, downhill skiing and trans-Pacific yacht competition, and when his schedule permits, he instructs at the Skip Barber Racing School at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.
"To be with Lynx is a dream come true for me, and to have a team mate like Michael has been a really good experience," says Ryley. We've had some very educational test days and have found what works and what doesn't and I'm confident that you'll see the Lynx cars at the front of the grid all season long. It's been a long off-season and I get the chills when I think about hearing 'green, green, green' on the radio at the start of the first race. I'm ready to rock and roll."
Practice for the CART Toyota Atlantic race begins Thursday afternoon, with final qualifying taking place at 9:00 am Saturday morning. The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 3:00 pm Saturday afternoon, and will be televised on the Speed Channel at 9:30 pm (EST) that evening. Monterrey is the first of 12 races on the 2002 Atlantic schedule, which includes eight races in the U.S. and three in Canada.
2002 marks the 12th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. The Lynx mission is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest level of the sport and provide them with funding, equipment and training that focuses on their mental and spiritual development as well as their on-track skills - a process the team calls 'Destiny by Design.'
Northwest SpeedWerx and the Kart2CART program are the creation of Microsoft executive Rick Waddell, himself an accomplished open-wheel racer in the Star Formula Mazda series. The goal is to identify aspiring young drivers and assist them with the resources and promotional guidance to move their careers forward through participation in a multi-year development program.
Focusing on CART's 'ladder system,' Lynx Racing and NorthWest SpeedWerx are training the next generation of drivers for competition in the CART FedEx Championship.