Walker Racing To Field Second Car Memo Gidley to fill in for injured Naoki Hattori INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 20, 1999) - Derrick Walker announced today that will again field a second car, Memo Gidley former KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship ...
Walker Racing To Field Second Car Memo Gidley to fill in for injured Naoki Hattori
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 20, 1999) - Derrick Walker announced today that will again field a second car, Memo Gidley former KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship front-runner, has been named to drive the team's Alpine/Walker Racing Honda in the CART FedEx Championship Series, starting with the June 20 Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway.
The 29-year-old American will fill in for fellow CART rookie Naoki Hattori, who was injured in an opening lap crash at the Grand Prix of Miami in March. Gidley will drive the team's Honda-powered Champ Car in all CART road course and street circuit events until Hattori's rehabilitation from leg injuries is complete. Soon as Naoki is ready to begin testing then the team will have him out getting back to racing.
Derrick Walker: "We tested Memo recently at Putnam Park, and he impressed us with how quickly he adapted to a Champ Car, his speed and the quality of his feedback. "Like Naoki, he is a rookie and that fits into our long-term goals for the team and the desires of Naoki's sponsors," Walker added, "plus he is a graduate of one of CART's training ground series, racing at the front of the Atlantic field for the past two years."
Memo Gidley: "For me, this is a huge opportunity. I started in this sport from ground zero - as a mechanic with no money, no connections. My dad was a fisherman and charter captain," Gidley said. " So far during my career, I've raced and won in everything from sailboats and BMX bicycles to motocross, karts, Can-Am cars and open-wheel cars. Whatever they give me the opportunity to drive, I'll do my best. Derrick, the whole Walker team, and Naoki's sponsors have given me my first chance to show what I have learned coming up to this point. It's a dream come true, not only for me, but for others like me with the same hopes and desires."
Gidley tested again with the Walker Racing team this week at Portland International Raceway. Sponsorship for the effort continues unchanged, led by Alpine Electronics. Meanwhile, Hattori continues his rehabilitation efforts in Indianapolis under the direction of CART Chief Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Terry Trammell, and plans to return to the FedEx Championship Series by mid-August.
Jose Guillermo " Memo " Gidley Birthdate: Sept. 29, 1969 Birthplace: La Paz, Mexico (aboard a sailboat) Residence: San Rafael, Calif.
Born in La Paz, Mexico, Jose Guillermo Gidley, he is a fisherman's son who lived aboard a 1930s cutter " Yo Ho" with two sisters and a dog named Huckleberry , on six out of 12 months every year until he was 13.
"My father was a commercial fisherman for 30 years and split time between fishing, chartering the sailboat and raising a family," He raced sailboats just "to goof around," and when he was 7, raced off-road bicycles. By the time he was 11, he was racing off-road motorcycles. "The racing bug kind of took over," he said. He used to ride on the back of his father's motorcycle, which pulled a trailer carrying his smaller motocross bike.
He saw his first cart race while taking classes at a junior college, and got hooked. Only problem was, he didn't have the money to support his racing habit. That's when his lessons at sea came in handy. "Living on the water taught me to be real independent. There's always a lot of work to do. It gave me self-discipline. I wasn't afraid of hard work and living a different lifestyle. We were kind of like the modern day hippies out there. It was a neat environment to be raised in. It just teaches you not to judge people by just the way they live."
The transition from two-wheel racing to four-wheel racing was rough at the start. Gidley became a mechanic at a driving school at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey and made extra money delivering pizzas from his pickup truck. "The mechanics, we'd sit down for lunch and it was like, I did not know the Andrettis or anybody in cars," Gidley said. "The guys at Russell Racing had the attraction for the driving, the glory, the TV. They all had the idea that maybe they could drive. If I make it to Indy cars, I don't think any mechanic would be able to say they got to do that."
· 1992 Russell Racing School Champion (Laguna Seca Raceway) In a competition against the rest of his field of mechanics, Gidley won the Russell Racing championship
· 1994 U.S. 80cc Gearbox Kart Champion .
· 1995 U.S. Formula Ford 2000 Oval Course Champion, 3 races victories, Second overall and series "Rookie-of-the-Year" - also named a Team USA Scholarship Winner , test driver and coach for Trackmagic Racing Karts
· 1996 U.S. 125cc Gearbox Kart (USKA) Champion.
· 1997 Season: Won two races in his first year of Atlantic competition, finished second in the Atlantic championship as a rookie to teammate Alex Barron, winning at Toronto and Vancouver, helping Lynx Racing finish 1-2 in the championship, with eight top-five finishes in 12 races. Won the Player's Challenge Championship for Canadian Atlantic races and was second in the KOOL "Rookie Challenge" - won the GT America Stock Car race at Reno Grand Prix.
· 1998 Won three of the first four races and led the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship for most of the season, finally finishing third after mechanical failures at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca.