CHAMPCAR/CART: Driver Outreach Program Expands to Include Women

CART Expands Driver Outreach Program to Include Women; Lyn St. James Partners With CART to Identify Candid FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 31, 1999) - After the successful introduction and execution of its program to reach out to African-American race...

CART Expands Driver Outreach Program to Include Women; Lyn St. James Partners With CART to Identify Candid

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 31, 1999) - After the successful introduction and execution of its program to reach out to African-American race car drivers, Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that it is expanding its driver development initiative by establishing the CART Women's Driver Development Program. The announcement was made prior to Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway - the $1 million-to-the-winner finale of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series.

CART will work with one of the leaders in the world of women's sports, Lyn St. James, to identify the drivers she believes exhibit the most potential to become open-wheel racers in CART's series. A racer with more than 20 years of professional experience, St. James raced in CART's Champ Car series from 1992 to 1995.

"We are very pleased to be able to work with Lyn to reach out to female drivers who aspire to compete in our open-wheel race series," said Andrew Craig, CART's chairman and CEO. "CART has one of the most open environments in sports, but we would like a greater representation of female drivers in our series. Lyn, along with our partners at PPI and Toyota, will help us build this program to reach out to women who want the opportunity to race with us."

St. James most recently co-founded the Women's Global GT Series, a six-race series of races that concludes November 7 in Las Vegas. She also created her own Driver Development Program, which provides comprehensive educational training to those involved in motorsports, with an emphasis on women. Since its inception in 1994, 128 individuals have graduated from the six programs that have been conducted.

"Becoming a partner with CART to reach out to women who want to pursue careers in open-wheel racing is a great opportunity," said St. James. "I believe there are several drivers capable of competing in open-wheel racing on all levels, whether it is in Toyota Atlantic, Indy Lights or Champ Cars."

St. James will screen applicants and recommend three drivers to CART for inclusion in the program. As with CART's African-American Driver Development Program, those drivers will receive a test session, conducted by PPI, with the Cal Wells-owned Toyota Atlantic race team that won the 1999 KOOL Toyota Atlantic Championship with driver Anthony Lazzaro. Each driver will receive a comprehensive evaluation by the PPI team that will assist her as she looks to advance her career.

"We are proud to be part of this program," said Wells, who also runs a two-car team in the FedEx Championship Series. "It's important that we reach out to those who haven't had as many opportunities in our sport. Our partnership with CART to work with aspiring African-American, open-wheel drivers has been a great success and we are pleased to partner with CART to expand it to include women."

This past Tuesday, CART and PPI conducted its first test for the three African-American drivers - David Francis Jr., Andrew Kelley and Bill Lester - chosen for the first-year CART program. CART worked with North Carolina-based, African-American-owned Miller Racing Group to identify drivers for the test session. Each driver walked away raving about the experience. A comprehensive talent evaluation will be provided to each driver and CART by PPI Racing Toyota Atlantic team manager Nick Harvey.

"Each of these drivers exhibited a good skill set and the ability to provide good feedback while improving with each session," said Harvey. "They did all they were asked to do and more. It was a pleasure working with them and we could see each of them progressing beyond their current level of racing experience with more seat time."

Female drivers interested in the new CART program can send their background information to St. James at 317/224-9791 (fax); 317/244-9790 (telephone); or by e-mail at lsjracing@aol.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Anthony Lazzaro , Lyn St. James