Cart, Champ Car Teams Create Program to Benefit Aspiring African-American Open-Wheel Racers WASHINGTON, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Championship Auto Racing Teams and two of the top teams that participate in its ...
Cart, Champ Car Teams Create Program to Benefit Aspiring African-American Open-Wheel Racers
WASHINGTON, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Championship Auto Racing Teams and two of the top teams that participate in its FedEx Championship Series are joining forces to create opportunities designed to identify African-American race car drivers who may have the potential to climb the ladder of development in CART's three open-wheel racing series. The announcement was made by Andrew Craig, chairman and CEO of CART, who was a speaker today in the motorsports workshop portion of the inaugural Rainbow Sports national sports conference -- Sports in the New Millennium -- at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Rainbow Sports, which was founded by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., has defined its mission as challenging the sports industry to develop specific standards and practices to facilitate inclusion, expansion and opportunity for minorities. The CART-created program, which works in conjunction with African-American-owned racing team Miller Racing Group, will select three African-American drivers who will be afforded the opportunity of a full-fledged Toyota Atlantic test with Arciero-Wells Racing and the potential for an additional CART-sanctioned test in an Indy Lights car with Team KOOL Green. The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship and the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship are two steps on the CART ladder system of development that lead to the top level of CART open-wheel racing -- Champ Car racing in the FedEx Championship Series. "This is an initiative we have been pursuing for several months and I am pleased to be able to say that, with the help of Arciero-Wells Racing, Toyota and Team KOOL Green, it is becoming a reality," said Craig, who noted that the prototype program will kick off in the fall of this year. "The very nature of our sport encourages inclusion and CART provides open access in all three of its race series. We wish to take a more pro-active role in developing driver participation in our sport by minorities." Miller Racing Group, which is based in Concord, N.C., is a second-generation African-American-owned racing team and organization that has an in-depth understanding of the talent pool of U.S. African-American drivers. Together, CART and the Miller Racing Group will identify racecar drivers who may have the potential to reach the Champ Car level of racing. Leonard W. Miller, founder of MRG, has managed race teams that competed in several major race series and events. In the 70s, Miller owned and managed the highly visible Viceroy cigarette sponsorship of Benny Scott and the Black American Racing Team in Formula 5000 racing. He also has successfully entered teams in races in England, Mexico and Canada. During the last 10 years, Miller has been recruiting and developing several African-American drivers. "The Miller Racing Group is very excited about being part of this CART program," said Miller. "This is a great opportunity for us to help bring along deserving African-American racing drivers who aspire to run in open-wheel racing at the highest level." Three drivers will be chosen to participate in the tests -- comprehensive sessions in 240-horsepower, Toyota Atlantic open-wheel cars. Each participant will receive a detailed, written evaluation which, while not guaranteeing the driver a ride in any CART series, will be invaluable in helping him/her in presentations to potential sponsors. The review will be conducted by the Arciero-Wells team, one of the top teams in motor racing and currently vying for the championship in the Toyota Atlantic series. Following the tests, a determination will be made as to whether any of the drivers is at a level to then move to a session with Team KOOL Green in a 425-horsepower Indy Lights car. "We are enthused about the potential of this program and pleased to be a part of it," said Cal Wells, president of Arciero-Wells Racing, which fields teams in both the KOOL Toyota Atlantic Championship and in the FedEx Championship Series. "We look forward to finding new talent that will help us grow the number of African-American drivers in open-wheel racing and build a greater following for our sport in the African-American community." Barry Green, whose Team KOOL Green car driven by Paul Tracy won the Milwaukee Champ Car event a few weeks ago and runs cars in both the Indy Lights and FedEx Series, is enthused about his team's role in the program. "This marks a new direction for motorsport and all of us at Team KOOL Green are happy to be part of it," said Green, who came to the U.S. to race from Australia. "CART racing is all about diversity -- our community is comprised of people of all races and nationalities and we race in countries around the world. We firmly believe the African-American community must become more involved in our sport and this program will be effective in helping us do just that." Resources for this program are provided by the Arciero-Wells and Team KOOL Green race teams, Toyota and CART.