DETROIT (March 3, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that veteran race car driver Chris Kneifel has been named Chief Steward of CART's FedEx Championship Series. CART President of Racing Operations Hal Whiteford announced...
DETROIT (March 3, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that veteran race car driver Chris Kneifel has been named Chief Steward of CART's FedEx Championship Series.
CART President of Racing Operations Hal Whiteford announced that Kneifel will assume his duties immediately and will oversee the action when CART opens its 21-race, 2001 season Sunday, March 11 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Kneifel, 39, is an accomplished racer who was in victory circle just last month after winning the 24 Hours of Daytona as a member of the Chevrolet factory-backed Pratt & Miller Engineering Corvette team. Kneifel raced competitively in the CART FedEx Championship Series from 1982-84, starting 19 races over those three years and finishing tied for 17th in the final series points standings in 1983. His career-best finish was an eighth on three occasions.
"Chris is a great addition to our team and we look forward to him joining us," said CART President/CEO Joseph Heitzler. "We worked very closely with our drivers, led by Mauricio Gugelmin; our team owners; and the business associates in our racing division, as we considered this decision. Our ability to draw on the expertise of our past chief stewards, Wally Dallenbach and Kirk Russell, as Chris leads our races, is a critical element that will ensure a successful transition.
"The addition of Chris allows Kirk, as our Vice President of Competition/Technical Director, to focus his efforts on circuit development and design, an area of extreme importance to us at CART, as well as our race promoters who are our most significant stakeholders."
Whiteford also expressed his enthusiasm regarding the addition of Kneifel to the open-wheel sanctioning organization's racing division.
"Chris Kneifel has the attributes we were seeking in a chief steward," said Whiteford. "He has racing experience on the top levels of the sport. He thinks about racing from a driver's perspective. He has demonstrated that he has a solid understanding of what it takes to properly conduct a race. He also has experience in a variety of business situations that will help him as he manages the many issues that arise during a race. We are extremely pleased Chris is joining us."
For Kneifel, the move from the cockpit to the control tower is one he eagerly anticipates.
"I can't measure the amount of excitement I am feeling for this opportunity," said an enthused Kneifel. "It is the right time in my life for doing this. We just won the 24 Hours in Daytona with Corvette and I feel very good about all I have accomplished in a race car. I will miss the competition of driving but it is time for me to move on.
"There is a great deal of responsibility that goes with the chief steward position and I approach it with my eyes wide open. It is very important for me to develop a good working relationship with both the teams and drivers. The 30 professionals who race these cars are the luckiest drivers in motor racing because they are racing in the greatest racing series in the world. It will be my responsibility to help make it the most exciting, entertaining and safe racing we can. I look forward to working with everyone in the CART paddock to make that happen and can't wait until we start racing next week in Mexico."
Kneifel's racing career spans 22 seasons and his experience includes sports car racing in both the American Le Mans Series and the Trans-Am Championship. He also raced in Toyota Atlantic and Formula Ford during the early part of his career. Kneifel was instrumental in helping develop the Mid-Ohio Driving School in the mid-90s and served as a driving instructor there and for Chrysler test drivers.
Kneifel also is a national board member for Prevent Child Abuse America and a trustee for the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, serving on the committee for At-Risk Youth.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. All FedEx Series races are broadcast domestically on ABC and ESPN television and CART's worldwide television coverage encompasses more than 200 countries and 1 billion viewers annually. Series champions Gil de Ferran, Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti and Alex Zanardi are among the drivers who battle for the FedEx Championship Series title on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.