Danica Patrick to debut at Toronto

Team Rahal'S Danica Patrick to make her Barber Dodge Pro Series debut at Toronto. CICERO, IL . . . Team Rahal, a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams ("CART"), announced today that Danica Patrick, who signed a multi-year driving ...

Team Rahal'S Danica Patrick to make her Barber Dodge Pro Series debut at Toronto.

CICERO, IL . . . Team Rahal, a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams ("CART"), announced today that Danica Patrick, who signed a multi-year driving contract with the team earlier this month, will make her Barber Dodge Pro Series debut at next week's Molson Indy Toronto.

Patrick, a rising star in open-wheel racing, will make her debut in the CART Ladder System with the race. Patrick will drive for Team Rahal's newly formed Toyota Atlantic team in 2003. She was originally slated to run three Barber Dodge races in August, but her success in testing a Barber Dodge car last week at Sebring International Raceway in Florida has accelerated that timetable. She is now scheduled to run five Barber Dodge events this season.

"A million things are going through my mind right now," said Patrick, a 20-year-old native of Roscoe, Illinois. "Obviously the test went well enough that everyone felt I was ready to compete in the series now. By starting now I get a chance to run on a couple of street courses this year which will better prepare me for the opportunity next season. This is something I have been working towards for a long time and obviously I am excited, but I have a lot of work ahead of me in the next week to be ready to race. I have never seen the track in person, only on TV so I will spend some time trying to become familiar with the circuit. This is a great opportunity, an opportunity that probably wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the CART Ladder System and for Bobby Rahal."

"Danica has worked very hard to get to this point," said Rahal, a three-time CART champion. "I have had the chance to help a number of young drivers over the years and it is rare to come across a driver that has her determination and abilities. Certainly there has been a lot of attention focused on her because she is a young lady in racing, but the bottom line is she has to be competitive as a driver. I feel she has the talent to get to Champ Car racing and she has proven again and again that she is just plain fast."

Patrick won three national and six regional karting titles by the time she was 16. After obtaining her high school GED she moved to Europe to drive competitively and spent three years in the Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall divisions in England and Europe. Her crowning achievement during her European driving career was a runner-up finish in the prestigious "Formula Ford Festival" in 2000. The second place result was not only the highest finish ever for a female and the highest ever by an American driver. Former CART champion Danny Sullivan's 1974 fourth place finish was previously the highest finish by an American driver.

"We at CART are excited that Danica is expanding her efforts to include the Barber Dodge Pro Series and that she will be making her debut at the Molson Indy Toronto," said Robert Dole, Driver Development Manager for CART. "This is a great opportunity for her to advance her career and it is great for the CART Ladder System."

"We are thrilled that Team Rahal has stepped up to run Danica in five of the last six Barber Dodge races this year," said Jeremy Dale, Managing Director of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. "Her test last week at Sebring was very productive as she adapted straight away to the Barber Dodge cars to post some competitive times. She will certainly add to the competitive mix in Barber Dodge and we are proud to be a step in her career development."

Team Rahal is a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Headquartered in Hilliard, Ohio, the team owned by three-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, currently fields a pair of Championship Cars for 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jourdain Jr. in the CART FedEx Championship Series and an entry for Vasser in the Indianapolis 500. The team signed upcoming open-wheel driver Danica Patrick to a driving contract through next season, which makes the 20-year-old American female the driver of the new Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic entry in 2003. The 65-member team enjoys primary sponsorship from the Shell Oil Products US and Motiva, LLC, and the Gigante Group in CART and the Miller Brewing Company for the Indy 500.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Danny Sullivan , Danica Patrick , Michel Jourdain