Milwaukee, Wisconsin (June 2, 2000) â€“ It was announced today by Chuck West, team owner of World Speed Motorsports that Japanese driver Akihiro Asai will join the team in the Toyota Atlantic Championship series for the 2000 season. Asai will...
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (June 2, 2000) – It was announced today by Chuck West, team owner of World Speed Motorsports that Japanese driver Akihiro Asai will join the team in the Toyota Atlantic Championship series for the 2000 season. Asai will make his debut this weekend, June 2-3, at the Milwaukee Mile, for round 4 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship, part of the Miller Lite 225 CART FedEx Championship weekend.
This 24- year old driver from Tokyo will be experiencing many “firsts” this weekend at Milwaukee. Asai will race in America for the first time in his first Atlantic competition on his first oval track. “Since this is my first oval track race, my goal is to finish and to learn as much as I can. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself right now,” said Asai. “I’ve had limited testing on an oval and so far so good. The only thing the oval has is speed and that’s what I like.”
Asai will join the World Speed Motorsports team under the Walker Racing affiliation in which Team Owner of World Speed Chuck West and Derrick Walker, owner of Walker Racing’s CART FedEx Championship and Indy Racing League teams, look for aspiring young drivers with a future in open-wheel racing. Both West and Walker share the desire to provide young talent with the opportunity to advance their professional racing careers by grooming them towards the next level of competition.
Asai began his career racing go-karts at age 15, when he raced in the Japanese National Kart Championship, winning at Sugo. After a few years in karts, Asai traveled to the states to attend a five-day course at the Skip Barber Formula Dodge racing school, where he became hooked on formula cars. “My first real formula car experience was at Skip Barber. It was a great feeling, the car felt so solid,” said Asai.
It was at that time that he began racing professionally. In 1994, Asai participated in the ESSO/Formula Toyota Championship where he earned top honors as the highest-ranking rookie (eighth). From there Asai competed in the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula 4 Championships, scoring the victory from the pole while making his Formula 4 racing debut. Asai continued to break records and earn victories, winning two and claiming six of 12 wins and six pole positions in the Eastern Formula 4. He was also the first driver, in the Formula 4 to win on the Motegi road course, after the track opened in 1998.
Last year, Asai completed a full season in Australia with the Formula Holden Australian series, where he finished fifth in the championship, after struggling to move up from the back of the grid in more than half of the races. Asai’s most memorable moment in Australia was at the Adelaide Street Course where he finished fourth after starting 18th on the grid while setting the fastest lap.
“I believe Akihiro will be a top contender in this series. He has a solid racing foundation that will enable him to acclimate to ovals very well. In the limited time we’ve tested with him on the ovals, he’s been fast,” said West, who is now in his seventh year as an Atlantic team owner.
World Speed Motorsports is considered one of America’s most dynamic racing organizations, featuring entries in CART’s Toyota Atlantic Championship, as well as the Star Mazda Pro Series. Founded in 1991 by West, World Speed initially focused on the Formula Mazda series where West finished third overall and won the Rookie-of-the-Year title in his first season as an owner/driver. 1992 resulted in the series championship by virtue of West’s five wins, ten podiums and three track records.
Since then, World Speed has captured six Formula Mazda championship and five pro series Rookie-of-the-Year titles under West’s guidance and Doyle’s engineering expertise, featuring such drivers as Ben Massey, Pete Wise, Mike Conte, Mike Miller, Jeff Bucknum and Grant Ryley.
Most recently, World Speed campaigned Nicolas Rondet in 1999, capturing a podium finish at Trois-Rivieres, and averaging a top five running position at every race.
Look for rookie sensation Asai in the #15, World Speed/Pro-Staff swift 008.1 at Milwaukee. Qualifying will take place Friday, June 2 at 5:05 p.m. Central. The Toyota Atlantic Championship race is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Saturday, June 3.
The Milwaukee race will be televised on espn2, Sunday, June 11. For the latest information regarding World Speed, go to www.worldspeed.com Round five of the 12-race CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season takes place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 17.