For Immediate Release STEVE KNAPP TO CONTEST 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC SERIES IN MILLER BROTHERS RACING/MILLER MILLING COMPANY RT 41 WITH P-1 RACING Contact: Scott Gates (612) 442-1325 (612) 332-6331 (612)...
For Immediate Release
STEVE KNAPP TO CONTEST 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC SERIES IN MILLER BROTHERS RACING/MILLER MILLING COMPANY RT 41 WITH P-1 RACING
Contact: Scott Gates (612) 442-1325 (612) 332-6331 (612) 670-7268 CELL (612) 472-1555 FAX
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, (December 20th, 1996) -- RACER magazine characterized Steve Knapp as "the formula's dominant man" as he captured the 1996 US FF2000 championship with 7 consecutive poles, 4 wins and numerous track records. Gordon Kirby called Knapp's achievement "a story of a remarkable renaissance as well as absolute effort" and continued "few drivers have worked as long or as hard to get their chance, and few deserve it more." CART PPG IndyCar Champion Jimmy Vasser commended Knapp's "probably even overqualified" talents. Now it's Knapp's turn to prove these guys right. Building on the teams successful 1996 USAC/SCCA FF2000 Pro Series season, Miller Brothers Racing announced today that Steve Knapp will get his well deserved chance. With continued support from mentor and 1996 US FF2000 team-mate John Miller, Knapp will compete in the 1997 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Series in P-1 Racing's championship contending Ralt RT 41.
Minneapolis, MN based Miller Milling Company, one of the largest U. S. millers of wheat for the pasta industry, will continue it's long-standing involvement with, and support of, Steve Knapp as primary U.S. sponsor of Knapp's Atlantic effort.
Knapp's KOOL/Toyota Atlantic program, combined with the team's continuing two car US FF2000 program with drivers; team owner, John Miller; and three time World Cycling Champion and Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, continues the team's previously announced racing expansion for the 1997 season. "Steve's earned our respect with his consistently spectacular performances" commented team owner John Miller. "We've been particularly impressed with Steve's ability and maturity both in and out of the car and with his focus, desire and commitment to a winning program. His clean cut image and quiet, self-assured confidence have been an important contribution to the team's relationships with our sponsors and guests. We remain extremely enthusiastic about our relationship with this outstanding young man and look forward to an even more successful 1997 racing season."
Miller continued, "As we looked at opportunities for Steve for 1997 I was adamant we find a team with the knowledge, equipment, skill and most importantly the ability and burning desire to win the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. We were impressed with the quality of the program, the team and the personnel at P-1 Racing. Most importantly we were impressed with the team and Bill Fickling's unwavering and unconditional commitment to win. With our goal of continuing an Atlantic program in 1998 for Greg LeMond we look forward to establishing a long, productive and winning relationship with Bill and his talented crew."
Regarding Miller Brothers Racing's ongoing expansion, Miller remarked, "When [team general manager] Scott Gates came to me with the proposal last year to bring Greg LeMond to the team and expand our program with Steve Knapp for the 1997 season we had to make a big decision. Scott's tireless commitment and extensive business and racing expertise, coupled with Dan Campbell and the rest of the teams amazing performances in 1996, made this expansion an easy decision. Scott has put together and implemented an aggressive expansion plan for the team. Under his expert guidance and direction you will see us continue to grow toward our goal of an Indy car program for the 1999 season."
Knapp is going to have a busy 1997. In addition to his Toyota Atlantic driving duties Knapp will continue his ongoing responsibility as Driver Development Coach and engineer for the team's US FF2000 program and, with wife Bobbi, runs a busy and successful business, Elite Engines, preparing winning motors for many of the top FF 2000 and FF 1600 professional and amateur racers across the country. And his plate may get fuller yet, as the team explores opportunities offered for Knapp to compete in selected, non-conflicting events.
As one might expect Knapp is excited by his new position. "I have to be one of the luckiest racers on the planet." said the enthusiastic Knapp. "My relationship with John Miller and Miller Milling Company has put my career back on track. John's support, dedication and most importantly his friendship and guidance have given me the confidence, inspiration and ability to win. I'm surrounded by a great bunch of people, like my friend and FF2000 crew chief Dan Campbell, who've worked tirelessly to provide me with the tools and opportunity to succeed."
Knapp continued, "With the historic venues, great competition and long-standing record of producing future stars, Vicki O'Conner just keeps making the Toyota Atlantic Series better and better. Bill Fickling and his P-1 Racing's excellent 1996 record against tough competition, coupled with Loyning Engines record of reliability, has proven their ability to contend for the Championship. With their broad knowledge base and an extensive test and development effort I'm confidant the Miller Milling RT 41 is going to be hard to beat."
Bill Fickling's P-1 Racing was impressive in leading Canadian Lee Bentham to 2nd place against formidable competition in the 1996 Toyota Atlantic Series. "Being second is no fun" remarked Fickling. "We want to win. Steve's tremendous driving skills are going to give us the ability to win races. More importantly his extensive in car technical knowledge and engine expertise coupled with an aggressive development program give us the ability to win the championship. With the other opportunities we know Steve had we're ecstatic we were able to put this program together with him. I'm just glad we're competing with Steve Knapp than having to compete against him!"
Miller Milling team-mate, rookie US FF 2000 driver Greg LeMond will be no stranger to the Series either. "I'm excited!" said LeMond. "The last few months with Steve, John and the team have been an incredible experience. Steve and the team have given me years of experience and confidence in a few short months. With my cycling experience I know how hard it is, regardless of talent, to make it to the top of any sport. These guys have given me the chance of a lifetime - I'm thrilled to be a part of helping Steve get his chance. I just hope they'll let me hang around and maybe just sit in the car and dream once in a while!"
LeMond will be lending his extensive sports marketing knowledge and experience to Knapp's Atlantic program. Additionally Greg has designed and implemented a strength and physical training program for the teams drivers. LeMond, Knapp and Miller have worked together on this program for the last 8 weeks as they look for every advantage in the upcoming season.
Scheduled for an initial air date in conjunction with the Disney World 200 US FF2000 telecast, Greg LeMond and Steve Knapp's ongoing professional relationship will be featured in a half hour ESPN Television special currently in production chronicling LeMond's transition from professional cyclist to professional auto racer. Please contact the team for additional information and sponsorship and marketing opportunities with the team and with this ESPN special.