CHAMPCAR/CART: Blundell thrilled at Rockingham announcement

(Toronto, CA) – The FedEx Championship Series’ only English driver Mark Blundell is thrilled with today’s announcement that he will have the opportunity to race in his home country during the 2001 season. Championship Auto Racing Teams...

(Toronto, CA) – The FedEx Championship Series’ only English driver Mark Blundell is thrilled with today’s announcement that he will have the opportunity to race in his home country during the 2001 season.

Championship Auto Racing Teams has announced that a round of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series will be held at the Rockingham Motor Speedway, Britain’s newest motor sports venue on Saturday September 22.

As part of the Series’ expanded 2001 calendar, it has also been announced that next season will include races at the new Lausitzring oval near Berlin in Germany on Saturday September 15 (a week before the English race) and at the Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth-Dallas on May 6.

Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, arrived in Canada last night in preparation for Sunday’s Molson Indy of Toronto after making a flying visit back to the UK for some pre-announcement media commitments over the weekend.

“I think taking Champ Car racing to any new market is exciting, but even more so in my home country,” said Blundell.

“The appeal of this formula is that it produces great racing and is so fan friendly. I think those two ingredients will make the inaugural English race an enormous success.

“I think people will be amazed with the following Champ Car racing already has in the UK.

“English fans are renowned for being some of the most passionate and astute in the world. They love competition and close racing and that is exactly what they will get when they turn up at Rockingham next year.

“To a major degree, oval racing will also be something new for the British fans. I personally think they will enjoy the spectacle as well as the strategy and tactics involved with the sport.”

Despite the huge success of British industry in building the cars for America’s premier single-seat motor racing category, where makers such as Lola in Huntingdon and Reynard at Brackley have enjoyed a virtual monopoly of success for the past two decades, it will be the first time ever that the 200mph+ single-seat racing cars have raced on a banked oval track in the United Kingdom.

“We are delighted to include Rockingham, England, as a part of the newly expanded calendar for the 2001 FedEx ChampCar World Series” said CART interim President and CEO, Bobby Rahal.

“We are well aware of the huge following our sport has in both Europe and in the United Kingdom, both on TV and with British fans visiting our events in the USA.

“We’re now looking forward to bringing the world’s fastest form of circuit racing to Rockingham”.

It was announced earlier this year that Mexico will also be added to the 2001 schedule.

Today’s announcement means there will now be 22 CART races shared between the US, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Germany, England, and Australia over an eight-month period.

“We are taking Champ Car racing to the world and I can’t see any problems with that,” said Blundell.

“Sure we are going to have an increased travel schedule, but the end result will be greater exposure for sponsors like Motorola, more experience for teams and an ever-growing fan base.

“At the end of the day that has to mean a bigger slice of the pie for everyone.” The development of the Rockingham facility not only provides another high-class international venue for the CART series, but will be a huge boost for the local East Midlands economy and the town of Corby, which has fought back since the closure of the steelworks, its main industry 25 years ago.

“America’s premier motor racing series will be a huge spectacle, comparable to, but different from Formula One,” said Peter Davies, Managing Director of Rockingham Motor Speedway.

“As a premier motor sports venue with a unique level of spectator facilities, we always stated that our aim was to host a major international motor race within two or three years of opening.

“To host an event of the level of the FedEx ChampCar championship, in our debut year is astounding and a real boost, not just to our management team, but the whole of the East Midlands, to Corby and to Great Britain. It reflects both the hard work by everyone on our team here and the leading position that Great Britain holds in the motor sports world”.

The new Rockingham Motor Speedway, which features the only American-style, 1.5 mile high speed oval track as well as road-race courses, is in fact being built on a brown field site which was a part of the former Colby steel works.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Mark Blundell