TEAM GORDON IN PLACE FOR '99 CART FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES ANAHEIM, California (Jan. 12, 1999) - The biggest question of the 1999 silly season was finally answered when Robby Gordon, along with partners John Menard and Mike Held, today...
TEAM GORDON IN PLACE FOR '99 CART FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
ANAHEIM, California (Jan. 12, 1999) - The biggest question of the 1999 silly season was finally answered when Robby Gordon, along with partners John Menard and Mike Held, today announced the formation of Team Gordon, which will campaign the Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menard Swift Toyota in this year's CART FedEx Championship Series. Sponsorship support will come from four giants of industry -- Menards, the third largest home improvement retailer in the nation; Panasonic; The Johns Manville Company, a leading manufacturer of premium quality insulation and building products; and Duracell.
"I may be a team owner on paper, and my name will appear on the side of the transporter, but in my eyes I'm a driver, period," said Gordon, who now becomes the series' only driver/owner at the youthful age of 30. "John Menard and Mike Held have been cornerstones in putting this venture together."
"We are fortunate to continue our relationship with engine supplier Toyota, which believed in our abilities from day one, joined by great additional sponsors in Panasonic, Johns Manville, Menards, and Duracell. For me, Team Gordon is an opportunity to secure my passion as a driver for years to come, much like Bobby Rahal did six or seven years ago. We've been building, running, and winning with our own team in SCORE Off-Road Racing for the last five years and we fully intend to carry that success into CART."
Menard has been involved in Indy cars for 20 years, focusing on the Indy Racing League since 1996 and winning the 1997 series Championship. His foray into CART with Team Gordon represents the first effort by an owner to be involved in both series on a full-time basis.
"I am a businessman with a passion for open-wheel racing," said Menard. "Currently, there are 140 Menards stores in America, and the FedEx Championship Series holds races in six Midwestern markets crucial to Menards, including two races in our home state of Wisconsin. It makes sense to get involved for those reasons alone. My IRL team will aggressively take a run at the title, and with the opportunity to partner with Robby and Team Gordon, we'll run for a championship in CART, as well." Team Gordon expects the arrival of its first Swift chassis¹ in early February, with extensive testing set to begin immediately. Gordon also maintains a sly view of his Toyota powerplant.
"I can tell you from the seat of my pants that the Toyota engine wasn¹t given enough credit by the press and was more competitive than people realized," said the two-time CART race winner. "The last four or five races of 1998, Toyota was producing plenty of horsepower. What really kept us from some fantastic finishes was bad luck on the track. We had the fifth-fastest race lap at Laguna Seca, but also a pit fire. In Australia, we were poised for a top-five finish until we were called in for fuel in the late stages of a race that ended with a time limit. At Fontana, we had the guts to stick with the leaders all day until a late tire puncture sent us to the pits out of sequence. I've never hesitated in believing Toyota can win in 1999 and we want to be the first to do it."
Team Gordon general manager and owner Mike Held feels everyone on the team will feed off of Robby's high energy and determination.
"We're tackling a big job here at Team Gordon," Held said. "We're starting with a clean sheet of paper and we'll be going non-stop until the first race pulling it all together. Each person knows he has a specific job to do and if we take care of business, no matter how many hours it takes, there is a huge bonus for us on race day Robby Gordon. His day-to-day enthusiasm drives us, but ultimately it's his talent to drive the wheels off whatever we put on the track that keeps us inspired. It's not a question of believing he can win, it's a matter of knowing he will win that makes it fun and worthwhile."
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY:
Robby Gordon - Team Gordon driver and owner "We are fortunate to continue our relationship with engine supplier Toyota, which believed in our abilities from day one, joined by great additional sponsors in Menards, Panasonic, Johns Manville, and Duracell. For me, Team Gordon is an opportunity to secure my passion as a driver for years to come, much like Bobby Rahal did six or seven years ago. We've been building, running, and winning with our own team in SCORE Off-Road Racing for the last five years. We fully intend to carry that success into CART."
John Menard - Team Gordon owner "Robby's enthusiasm and determination make me smile. The kid never gives up. If you spend enough time with Robby you will come away with enough energy for a couple of weeks! Plain and simple, I believe this program will be a winning effort and I have a vested interest in making that happen."
Mike Held Team Gordon owner and general manager "We are a united group focused on bringing a championship to Toyota, Panasonic, Menards, Johns Manville and Duracell. John Menard, his stores and his business expertise provide our team with a solid foundation for raising the necessary sponsorship dollars now and for the future. Robby Gordon's enthusiasm and work ethic are contagious qualities that embody the core of our young racing team. We are alive, and we¹re standing on the gas!"
Andrew Craig Chairman and CEO of Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. "It's great to be able to welcome Team Gordon to the FedEx Championship Series, Robby is a formidable competitor and I am sure that he will bring the same commitment and passion for the sport to his role as team owner. It¹s also a very real pleasure to welcome John Menard and Mike Held to CART.
We wish Robby, John and Mike every success."
Hiro Matsushita - President, Swift Engineering "Swift Engineering is honored to welcome Robby Gordon of Team Gordon to the family of successful drivers of Swift racing cars. Although Team Gordon is newly founded, the collective expertise of each member will contribute greatly to a successful racing season."
Jim Aust TRD president and CEO and vice president of Toyota Motorsports "Ten years ago, Robby Gordon joined the Toyota family and won a driver¹s championship with the Mickey Thompson Stadium off-road truck program," explained Jim Aust, Toyota Racing Development, USA (TRD, USA) president and CEO and vice president of Toyota Motorsports. "Toyota is extremely pleased to expand this relationship as an engine supplier for Team Gordon¹s Champ Car program, and we look forward to a very successful 1999 race season."
Lee White TRD general manager "I've worked with Robby in the past, and we've won many races together," said Lee White, general manager for Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A. "I'm looking forward to similar success with Team Gordon in the Toyota Champ Car program. Robby is a driver who always has potential to put the car up front."
Masa Sasaki President & C.O.O. of Pacific Creative Corp and Team Gordon project partner "I'm glad to join Team Gordon. I believe that this project will bring a great success to our sponsors based on our race experience and passion. We will do our best to provide a solid sponsorship foundation for Robby. We are looking forward to working with Team Gordon and having a highly productive 1999 season."
Laurie Gerrish Team Gordon team manager "This is without a doubt, one of the greatest opportunities a person could have. We've got a group of bloodthirsty individuals on a mission to take Robby Gordon to a championship. There is a certain enthusiasm here, something I haven't felt in a long time. I look forward to leading us to the front."
Brian Berthold Team Gordon chief engineer "Very few times in an engineer¹s career do you get to work with a driver of Robby Gordon¹s caliber. Knowing what he can do with a race car makes the hair on my back stand up straight. We all know he has the ability to race and win, it's our job to make that happen."