2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger and 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series runner-up Jon Fogarty were selected to participate in the CART Mentor program for the inaugural Grand Prix Americas to spend a weekend with a Champ Car team...
2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger and 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series runner-up Jon Fogarty were selected to participate in the CART Mentor program for the inaugural Grand Prix Americas to spend a weekend with a Champ Car team and see the event from the inside. Both drivers are hoping to step up the ladder in CART competition next season, with Allmendinger looking to move into the Toyota Atlantic Series and Fogarty hoping to make the jump into Champ Cars next season.
Fogarty, who competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series for three seasons before moving to Dayton Indy Lights in 2001, took the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship in only his first year in the category. Fogarty will be hosted by the Visteon/Patrick Racing team, which is owned by legendary Champ Car owner and CART founder U.E. "Pat" Patrick while Barber Dodge Pro Series champion AJ Allmendinger will be hosted by the Fernandez Racing team.
"Everyone at Visteon/Patrick Racing feels it is important to support the CART mentor program and are happy to be a part of it," said Visteon/Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee.
"The program gives young drivers an opportunity to see and participate in some of the activities and meetings that occur on race weekends. This should give them some idea of what to expect when they move up to the Champ Cars."
"I believe it is a great opportunity for any young up-and-coming driver to be associated with an upper level team," commented Tom Anderson, Co-Owner and Managing Director of Fernandez Racing. "For sure it will show them a direction on how one team attempts to achieve success. All teams do things a little bit different, but we are all trying to accomplish the same thing and that is to win professional motor races."
The CART Mentor Program is designed to increase the line of communications between drivers and teams and expand the future opportunities for the drivers of the CART Ladder System. As part of this program, Fogarty and Allmendinger will attend and take part in every aspect of a race weekend, including debriefings, engineering sessions and team meetings, plus press and sponsor events, when applicable.
Among the festivities for the inaugural Grand Prix Americas will be the appearance of popular former CART champion and Barber Pro Series competitor Juan Pablo Montoya, who will be the honorary starter for Sunday's Champ Car race. Montoya will be on the flagstand with CART starter Jim Swintal to have the honor of waving the green flag to start the Grand Prix Americas.