NEW TEAMS AND DRIVERS SET TO JOIN TOYOTA ATLANTIC FIELD THIS WEEKEND IN PORTLAND INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2005) -- Portland International Raceway has always been one of the most popular venues among drivers and teams on the Toyota Atlantic ...
NEW TEAMS AND DRIVERS SET TO JOIN TOYOTA ATLANTIC FIELD THIS WEEKEND IN PORTLAND
INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2005) -- Portland International Raceway has always been one of the most popular venues among drivers and teams on the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama schedule. Whether it's the excitement of racing through the famed Festival Curves or the tremendous support of the faithful Portland fans, PIR is certainly a favorite among many series competitors. The thrill of racing in Portland will be shared by more drivers and teams this weekend as it was announced today that three new teams will join the Atlantic field for the G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Toyota Atlantic doubleheader, June 17-19 at PIR.
All three squads -- Mathiasen Motorsports, Bite Racing and Blackjack Racing -- will be making their Toyota Atlantic debut this weekend as the series will host Rounds 3 and 4 of the '05 schedule at the 1.969-mile PIR road course.
Mathiasen Motorsports, based in Van Nuys California, will compete in the C2 Atlantic category beginning with this weekend's races. The team will feature the #15 entry driven by 26-year-old California racer Justin Sofio and includes sponsorship from RLM Investments, the company owned and operated by team owner Ray Mathiasen. Driving for Binder Racing, Sofio captured the C2 victory at the last two Toyota Atlantic events in Long Beach, including a fifth-place overall finish this season.
"I'm really stoked about racing at Portland and we'll run there and see what else we can do," said Sofio, who hopes to compete in several more events this season while vying for the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup. "Hopefully we're successful and we can win the C2 Championship and build with the team for next season."
Chris Souliotis, a dentist from British Columbia, Canada who raced in the Atlantic series last season at Vancouver, is the driving force behind Bite Racing. After finishing ninth in his series debut in his hometown last season, Souliotis returns as an owner/driver this year and will run the #56 Speedway Motors car for the team at Portland. Another doctor from British Columbia, Daryl Leiski, will pilot a second entry for Bite Racing. The emergency room physician will drive the #63 car in the C2 class at Portland.
Blackjack Racing, located in Reno, Nevada, also joins Atlantics this weekend. Roger Glover is the owner of the team as well as its driver and while he may be new to Atlantics, he's no stranger to motorsports. Glover is a 30-year racing veteran who competed in high-speed boat racing for 20 years before finding success on dry land in the SCCA Formula Atlantic ranks over the last several seasons.
One of 2005's top Atlantic teams will also have a new addition this weekend. Condor Motorsports, which leads the series championship chase with rookie sensation Charles Zwolsman after two rounds of competition in '05, will field a second entry in the Portland events with Ontario native Tim Hauraney behind the wheel. After competing for the last several seasons with the Condor team in the North American Formula Renault series, the 23-year-old Hauraney will get his first taste of Atlantic competition with a familiar team as he'll line up in the #31 Enerlog Systems Inc. entry in the C2 class at PIR.
After two productive races to start the season, Atlantic owner/driver Mark Ishikakawa (#71 Bay TSP) has also announced that he plans to compete in every series event this season. Ishikawa, who originally announced that his team -- Ishikawa Racing Group -- would run a limited schedule in 2005, enters this weekend ranked second in the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup standings with 50 points, trailing only category leader Dan Cobb by four markers heading into the weekend.
In all, series officials expect a season-high 21 entries for this weekend's Atlantic races in Portland. Over $200,000 in prize money will be on the line as the Atlantic series prepares for its second consecutive season of doubleheader weekend racing in Portland. Both races will aired on tape-delay on SPEED Channel beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 25.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Current Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Toyota Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.toyotaatlantic.com