DETROIT (Aug. 8, 1999) - David Francis, Jr., who has compiled an impressive record in just a few short years of open-wheel racing, was named today as the first driver selected for a comprehensive test session in Championship Auto Racing Teams' ...
DETROIT (Aug. 8, 1999) - David Francis, Jr., who has compiled an impressive record in just a few short years of open-wheel racing, was named today as the first driver selected for a comprehensive test session in Championship Auto Racing Teams' African-American driver development program.
The announcement was made prior to the running of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit by CART Chairman and CEO Andrew Craig and Lenny Miller, team manager of Miller Racing Group, which is working with CART to identify qualified African-American drivers.
"David has exhibited a great deal of talent and ability in the brief time he has been racing and we are pleased to name him as the first driver who will benefit from CART's initiative to seek out aspiring drivers whose goal is to race in the FedEx Championship Series," said Craig. "We are confident this program will assist him significantly in his quest to drive a Champ Car."
Francis currently races in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, which utilizes open-wheel cars powered by 3.2-liter, 265-horsepower, V-6 Dodge Intrepid engines. He ran earlier today in the Barber Dodge race as part of the Detroit Grand Prix weekend. Francis finished fourth in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Western Championship in 1997-98, winning six times while finishing second and third twice each.
"David has demonstrated the kind of skills that we are looking for in a race car driver and it's great to be able to announce him as the first choice for our CART program," said Miller. "His talent on the track is obvious and his ability off the track to work effectively with sponsors is a big plus in a sport that is heavily dependent on sponsor support."
Francis sees the test as a golden opportunity to advance his open-wheel racing career to the next level.
"This is like a dream come true for me," said the 26-year-old Francis, who grew up in south central Los Angeles. "To test with a top-notch team like Arciero-Wells Racing is a great opportunity and I am sure it will help me move up the ladder toward my ultimate goal of racing in Champ Cars in the FedEx Championship Series."
Arciero-Wells Racing, based in Santa Margarita, Calif., campaigns cars in both the KOOL Toyota Atlantic Championship and the FedEx Championship Series. Francis will get his test opportunity this fall at Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California.
"David is a skilled athlete, the kind of driver we are seeking to provide with more accessibility to open-wheel racing," said Cal Wells III, co-owner of Arciero-Wells. "We are looking forward to testing David in an Atlantic car and helping him evaluate his abilities."
As Craig announced July 1 as part of the inaugural "Rainbow Sports - Sports in the New Millennium" workshop in Washington, D.C., up to three drivers will be afforded a test session in a 240-horsepower Toyota Atlantic car. Upon completion of the test, each driver will be given a comprehensive evaluation by the Arciero-Wells Racing Team.
While the test session does not guarantee the participant a drive with any particular team, the evaluation will help the driver as he/she seeks sponsorship and a drive in a race series. If the driver exhibits the type of skill that warrants further testing, the participant will be given a test session in a 425-horsepower Indy Lights Car with Barry Green's Team KOOL Green.
"The Champ Car series brings together people from throughout the world and it's great that we are able to expand our inclusiveness to include more African-American participation and awareness in CART," said Green.
Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer, who loves to showcase the city of Detroit through the Grand Prix on Belle Isle, expressed his support for Francis and the CART program.
"CART should be commended on the creation of this new initiative and the speed in which it has gone from concept to reality," said Mayor Archer in regard to the sanctioning organization which is based in the suburbs of the Motor City. "I am pleased to see CART reach to the African-American community with this program; it will create a wonderful opportunity for many aspiring minority race car drivers. I wish David the best of luck and hope to see him back here on Belle Isle in the future."
Also on hand for the announcement was Charles S. Farrell, director of Rainbow Sports, which was created by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
"Andrew Craig joined us to announce this program just a few weeks ago in Washington and to see it coming together this quickly is wonderful," said Farrell. "We know this is the first step in an ever-growing program that will result in more inclusion of African-Americans and other minorities in motor racing and we commend CART for the action it has boldly and swiftly taken."