Indianapolis, Ind. (August 3, 2000) - American driver Memo Gidley will contest the remaining eight FedEx Championship Series race events behind the wheel of Della Penna Motorsports' ...
Indianapolis, Ind. (August 3, 2000) - American driver Memo Gidley will contest the remaining eight FedEx Championship Series race events behind the wheel of Della Penna Motorsports' #10 DIRECTV Toyota/Reynard Champ Car. Gidley scored tenth place finishes for Della Penna Motorsports at Michigan (July 23) and Chicago (July 30) while filling in for Argentine rookie Norberto Fontana.
Team owner John Della Penna and Gidley hope to make this arrangement a long-term deal expanding past the 2000 season, providing the "Y2K Super Sub" with the full-time ride he has sought since 1998.
"Initially, Memo was going to drive for us on the oval tracks and Norberto would continue to drive at the road and street courses," explained Della Penna. "The series environment is so competitive though that we can't afford to give up anything. I can't have two drivers switching back and forth. The team needs continuity.
"We have half the season left and need to post some good results. Memo has done that for us in the last two races. He is familiar with the tracks from his Toyota Atlantic days and knows the Champ cars from racing with several strong teams last year and earlier this season.
"Due to Memo's experience," Della Penna continued, "he comes to us with a strong idea of what he needs out of the car. We're able to be much more effective and, as Memo has shown, finish consistently at the top of the field."
In 15 career Champ Car starts, the talented American has posted six points-paying finishes driving for Walker Racing and Payton-Coyne in 1999 and Player's/Forsythe Racing and Della Penna Motorsports in 2000. Gidley has scored three consecutive top-ten finishes in five races contested this season (eighth at Rio, tenth at Michigan and Chicago).
"I've really enjoyed driving for the Della Penna Motorsports team at Michigan and Chicago," Gidley said. "I was impressed with the dedication and effort the team put in to both of those races. John, the team and I really see eye-to-eye on many things and I think this is a very good match. I feel the strength of Della Penna Motorsports is underestimated and look forward to surprising a few people with our results."
Argentine Norberto Fontana first tested a Champ Car in March of 2000, circuiting Homestead-Miami Speedway's road course and oval in a short four-day test before making his CART and oval debut at the season opener in Homestead, Florida. The 25-year old talent has secured championship titles in Swiss Formula Ford (1993) and German Formula 3 (1995), in addition to Formula One experience with Sauber (1994 - 1997).
"I really enjoyed working with Norberto," Della Penna said, "however, things got started so late with his program that we didn't have a chance to get him up to speed. He spent his whole career in Europe, and that's such a different racing environment, it put us at a disadvantage trying to get ready during a race weekend. He had to learn the tracks and set-up the car at the same time. The series is simply too competitive for that to be successful."
Fontana has returned to Argentine in an effort to secure a proper program for the 2001 season as well as compete in the two remaining Formula 3000 events.
The Della Penna Motorsports team returns to competition with Memo Gidley on Sunday, August 13 for the Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Round 13 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series.