CHAMPCAR/CART: DP driver McDowell to race Champ Car

EXTREME OPPORTUNITY Finlay Motorsports driver Michael McDowell will race both a Daytona Prototype and a Champ Car in the final three races of the 2005 season Charlotte, NC (Oct. 14, 2005) -- Finlay Motorsports, in association with...


Finlay Motorsports driver Michael McDowell will race both a Daytona Prototype and a Champ Car in the final three races of the 2005 season

Charlotte, NC (Oct. 14, 2005) -- Finlay Motorsports, in association with Rocketsports Racing, today announced that Michael McDowell will drive #31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth Bridgestone Lola in the final two rounds of the 2005 Champ Car season -- the Lexmark Indy 300 on October 23, and the Gran Primo de M0x00e9xico on November 6.

McDowell will also continue as co-driver, with Champ Car veteran Memo Gidley, of the Finlay Motorsports #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation / Commercial Defeasance Dinan-powered Riley Daytona Prototype in the final race of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Season, the Mexico City 250 on November 5.

In racing both sports cars and open-wheel cars during the same season, McDowell, 20, from Phoenix, Arizona, will be joining the ranks of such multi-talented legends as Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt. In racing both during the same weekend at the same track, he may well be unique; top motorsports historians cannot recall a similar 'double' on the same weekend.

"This is an extreme opportunity that goes well beyond any racing driver's wildest dream, and for that I'd like to thank the men who made it possible, Rob Finlay and Paul Gentilozzi," says McDowell. "I also owe thanks to my Finlay Motorsports co-driver Memo Gidley, the fittest, fastest driver I know for setting a standard of personal and professional excellence that gave me the strength to believe I could do this. And thanks also to Finlay Motorsports team manager and driver coach Steve Cameron, and engineer Rick Cameron for helping make me into a driver that can be an asset to two top teams in two top series. I'll do my very best to make sure that everyone involved agrees this was a good idea."

McDowell, a karting champion who was the Star Formula Mazda Rookie of the year in 2003, won the Mazda championship with seven victories and eight pole positions in 2004. He moved up to the Grand Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class in 2004, and became the youngest driver ever to finish on the podium at a Rolex Series event when he and Gidley finished 2nd in the Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park on July 31st.

The duo of McDowell and Memo Gidley (who also drove two races for the Rocketsports Champ Car team in 2004), has produced one podium, four top-4, six top-6 and ten top-10 finishes so far in 2005. The Finlay Motorsports team, in its first year of Rolex Series competition, is currently 6th in the championship.

"I consider Michael McDowell to be the finest young American driving talent racing in North America today," says team owner Rob Finlay. "He's just 20 years old, he's already won a championship in a highly competitive open-wheel series, and he has a bright career ahead of him. His performances this season in the Finlay Motorsports Rolex Series Daytona Prototype against some of the best and most experienced drivers from around the world demonstrate clearly that he is a champion in the making, and I'm delighted to help provide him with this opportunity to showcase his talent with a competitive and professional Champ Car team like Rocketsports."

McDowell will test the #31 Rocketsports Racing Champ Car today and tomorrow at the 1.766-mile, 10-turn Putnum Park, in Mt. Meridian, Indiana. Engineering the car will be John Gentilozzi.

"Michael came highly recommended to us from Rob Finlay and others in the racing industry," said Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi on how the deal came about. "He shows great potential and the desire to learn to be competitive in anything he races. We are looking forward to the next two races to allow him to get comfortable with the car and crew in preparation for 2006. His eagerness to be in the race car and to win, along with the team's desire to put Rocketsports back in to victory circle should prove to be a winning combination."

After a few hours running in the morning, McDowell was both amazed and awed by the performance of the Rockestports Champ Car.

"I have a new level of respect for the guys who can drive a Champ Car for three hours at a time," he admits. "It's an extremely physical experience and I really like the fact that it doesn't have power steering and traction control like a Daytona Prototype because that makes it much easier to feel the track and the changes you're making to the car. Going back and forth between the two different types of cars, particularly in Mexico where I'll be driving both during the same weekend, will be a challenge, but with two of the best teams in motorsports today backing me up, I'm ready."


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About this article
Series Grand-Am , IndyCar
Drivers Memo Gidley , Paul Gentilozzi , Dan Gurney , Mario Andretti , Michael McDowell , Rob Finlay , A.J. Foyt , Steve Cameron