2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Schedule Announced Three New Circuits Part of 2002 Championship Highland Park, Ill. (November 21, 2001) -- The 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will kick off and conclude its season on circuits new to the ...
2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Schedule Announced
Three New Circuits Part of 2002 Championship
Highland Park, Ill. (November 21, 2001) -- The 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will kick off and conclude its season on circuits new to the prestigious 29-year old series. First time visits to Monterrey, Mexico and Denver, Colo. headline the new tracks added to the returning tradition-rich venues that comprise the 2002 schedule. Eleven of the 12 events will be run in conjunction with the CART FedEx Championship Series with the lone non-CART date taking place as the featured race at the long standing Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres.
"The 2002 Toyota Atlantic series promises to be one of our best ever," said O'Connor. "The combination of the $100,000 per race purses and the $1 million points fund with the 16 to 18 top level Atlantic teams and more than 25 drivers should lead to tremendous competition."
"The 2002 season will mark the 14th year of Toyota Motor Sales, USA's sponsorship of the Atlantic series.," commented Les Unger, National Motorsports Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. "Toyota continues to be very committed to the success of the series and to the development of the drivers who compete in it. The 2002 schedule is an excellent mix of ovals, road and temporary road circuits that will showcase both the series itself and the talented young drives in the series."
The Toyota Atlantic Championship will join the CART FedEx Championship in kicking off their season on March 10th in Monterrey, Mexico, at the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix Presented by Herdez on the temporary street circuit at Fundidora Park. The event marks the first time the Atlantic Championship will compete on Mexican soil as a national series.
A month later, the Championship will make its return to Long Beach, California for the eleventh Atlantic running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 14th. The Championship will then have a break before gearing up for a furious summer of open-wheel action that will feature 10 races over the following 14 weeks.
The Atlantic series kicks off a three-consecutive race stretch on June 1st on one of the two oval races of the season. The historic Milwaukee Mile will play host to the series for the ninth time as part of the Miller Lite 225. The following week will take the Championship to the west coast for the final time of the season. The Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca will once again host the Atlantic Championship on its famed road course on June 9th as part of the Honda Grand Prix Featuring the Shell 300. A trip up the coast for the series' first visit to the Portland International Raceway follows on June 16th as part of the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200.
The schedule has another three-race string beginning on the final oval of the season at the Target Grand Prix of Chicago at the Chicago Motor Speedway on June 30th. The following weekend will see the Atlantic Championship in Canada for its first of three races north of the border. On July 7th, the Molson Indy runs at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario -one of the favorite stops for the Atlantics. The three-race stint concludes the following weekend at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland on July 14th at the sight of one of the most exciting last lap finishes in Atlantic history. Last year, 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic Champion, Hoover Orsi and the 2001 Rookie of the Year, Joey Hand, swapped the lead twice on the final lap in Cleveland, with Orsi holding on for the win.
After two week hiatus, the series returns to action at the Championship's signature event, The Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres on August 4th. The 2002 event will mark the 26th time (dating back to 1974) that the series has raced on the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
The stretch run on the 2002 schedule begins on the famous Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on August 19th with the running of the Motorola 200. The following week, it's back to Canada to join the CART FedEx Championship Series in its first visit to Montreal on August 25th for the Molson Indy Montreal. The Toyota Atlantic Championship will conclude its season on Labor Day weekend on the streets of Denver, joining the Champ Cars for the inaugural Grand Prix of Denver on September 1st.
"The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's best series for preparing drivers for the top levels of open-wheel racing," said CART Senior Vice President of Race Operations, John Lopes. "The presence of the Atlantic series at many of the Champ Car events provides fans with a great racing weekend and we can't wait to get the 2002 season started."
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and a key rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.