PPI Announces 1998 Driver

Precision Preparation, Inc. announces 1998 Atlantic Driver RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., (March 5, 1998) - Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) announced today it signed Masaoki Nagashima of Ohta-ku, Tokyo, Japan, as its driver in the...

Precision Preparation, Inc. announces 1998 Atlantic Driver

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., (March 5, 1998) - Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) announced today it signed Masaoki Nagashima of Ohta-ku, Tokyo, Japan, as its driver in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. PPI will campaign Nagashima in a 1998 Swift 008.A chassis with Yokohama tires powered by Toyota.

PPI entered Atlantic competition in 1997 to establish an in-house development program for drivers and team members. The PPI/MCI Toyota Atlantic Team scored three top-five finishes, ranking ninth in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. The series, now in its 25th year, is the longest-running open-wheel developmental series in North America with 12 races in the United States and Canada on ovals, street and road courses.

This is the second year PPI will enter two drivers in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship series. It announced on February 9, 1998, that Anthony Lazzaro of Acworth, Ga., would be in a MCI-sponsored entry.

PPI, started by Cal Wells III in 1979, specializes in building winning off-road racing trucks. PPI has won 23 off-road championships and now features a work force of almost 150 employees at its facilities in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Wells expanded his winning team and company into other racing venues, partnering with veteran CART team owner Frank Arciero Sr. in 1995 to form Arciero-Wells. In 1998, the team will campaign driver Max Papis in the MCI-sponsored entry and Hiro Matsushita in a Panasonic-Duskin-sponsored entry and Robby Gordon as a test and engine development driver and consultant. The drivers will use 1998 Reynard chassis with Firestone Tires powered by Toyota. PPI will continue its off-road racing division with Ivan "Ironman" Stewart at the wheel of a V8- powered Toyota truck in the Trophy Truck Class of the SCORE Off-Road Series.

"I'm thrilled to expand our relationship with Pacific Creative Corporation (PCC) in Japan and the other fine sponsors that it brings to PPI and Arciero-Wells," said Wells. "Masaoki Nagashima's resume is impressive; we're looking forward to developing a strong relationship and driver line-up for 1998. Anthony Lazzaro is a mature, savvy racer who will assist Masaoki in learning the unique discipline of oval racing, here, in the United States."

"I'd like to thank Mr. Hiro Matsushita, PCC and sponsors who gave me this opportunity," said Nagashima. "I'm very glad that I can race in this important category for drivers whose goal is to get to the CART series. Mr. Hiro Matsushita won the Atlantic championship, so it will be a great advantage for me to get advice directly from him. The team manages its operation very efficiently and I'm looking forward to working with them. At the end of last year I did some testing in the United States and had a very good feeling with the Atlantic car and cannot wait to do more. That was my first experience running an Atlantic car and my first impression was 'fast and powerful.' Especially, I felt it was fast and straight and consistent in high rpm. On the data, the displacement is less than F3, so I was surprised at the same time, I'm getting more eager. Also, I cannot wait for challenging the oval course, which is the biggest characteristic of American racing. This will be my first season and I want to be as good as any other foreign drivers and race among the top group. My biggest target is to win one race."

Nagashima was hand picked by Matsushita, the 1989 Toyota Atlantic champion and the president of Swift Engineering, Inc., to be the driver for PPI. Nagashima, a 27-year-old winning, versatile driver has consistently finished in the top-three in six competitive series in Japan. Nagashima graduated from Komazawa University with a degree in Economics in Tokyo, Japan. He previously studied for two years in the United States at Culver Military Academy in Indiana.

"PPI is very pleased to run a young, rising star from Japan and expand a great relationship with Hiro Matsushita," said Nick Harvey, PPI Atlantic team manager. "Nagashima, as a rookie, should be a perfect compliment to the experience of Anthony Lazzaro. The team welcomes the challenge of working with a driver who is new to racing in the United States."

Nagashima CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

1997 All Japan Formula 3 Series. Raced in ten races with four top-ten finishes.

All Japan GT Championship First win in Sendai Speedway.

All Japan N1 Endurance Series. Competed in seven races finishing second in the series with two first, two third and one fourth-place finish.

1996 ESSO Challenge Formula Toyota Series. Ranked fourth in the National Series with one first, two second and one third-place finish.

ESSO Challenge Formula Toyota Series. Ranked second in the Western Region Series with one first, two second and one third-place finish.

Tokachi 24 Hour Endurance Race. Finished first in class.

1995 All Japan N1 Endurance Series. Civic class, ranked fifth in series with two third-place finishes.

All Japan GT Championship Series. Raced in three races with two fifth-place finishes.

Formula Toyota Series. Raced in five races with one tenth-place finish in his first race.

1994 Suzuka Freshman Race. N-2 class, ranked fifth in series with one second-place finish.

1993 Civic One Make Series. Ranked seventh in series with one third-place finish.

1992 Racing debut.

To get up-to-date information on the web, go to mciracing.com and toyota.com

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Robby Gordon , Max Papis , Anthony Lazzaro , Masaoki Nagashima