Panther Racing Signs Tomas Enge for 2005 Season INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Panther Racing completed its driver lineup today with the announcement that Tomas Enge will join IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter for the full 2005 season. Enge -- ...
Panther Racing Signs Tomas Enge for 2005 Season
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Panther Racing completed its driver lineup today with the announcement that Tomas Enge will join IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter for the full 2005 season. Enge -- who competed in the final two races of the 2004 Indy Racing League season with Patrick Racing -- has been described as one of the most versatile drivers in motorsports, and his resume includes a three-race stint in Formula One during 2001. Enge will drive the No. 2 Panther Racing Chevrolet Dallara, and sponsorship details will be finalized in the near future.
Enge and his blue and yellow #2 Chevrolet will debut on-track Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the IRL's Open Test. He will be classified as a IRL Rookie this season, and therefore eligible for the 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year award. Tomas will be competing against fellow rookies Danica Patrick, Patrick Carpentier and Ryan Briscoe for the award.
"Panther Racing is one of the best in the business and I relish the chance to drive for them. This is a great opportunity to show what I am capable of," Enge said. "I have seen the motivation of all the people here and we know that Chevrolet wants to leave the Indy Racing League on a high note. I think that coupled with Panther's experience we will have a chance to fight for some great results."
The 28-year-old driver, who is from the Czech Republic, drove an IndyCar for the first time during a Panther Racing test at California Speedway in 2003. During that test, Panther's ownership was very impressed with his speed and how quickly he became comfortable in the cockpit. Characterized as gritty, tenacious, and fearless during his diverse experience in motorsports, Enge should adjust well to the oval and road course IndyCar Series schedule.
"Panther Racing is very excited to welcome Tomas Enge to our team," Panther Racing co-owner Doug Boles said. "Tomas has proven himself a winner in every form of racing he has attempted. His vast amount of open-wheel experience makes him a natural for IndyCar racing and with the addition of road courses to our schedule; Tomas' background and training in that discipline of the sport will provide Panther Racing with an outstanding opportunity to be competitive in all 17 events on the 2005 schedule.
"We have followed Tomas' career for a few years now and, in fact, gave Tomas his first IndyCar test at California Speedway in September of 2003," Boles said. "We were very impressed with how quickly he adapted to the cars and the track. We are looking forward to a successful 2005."
Enge has been one of the most successful drivers in the history of F3000, where he twice finished 3rd in points. In 2003 he joined Peter Kox and Jamie Davis at Veloqx Prodrive Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where they started from the pole in the GTS class en route to a victory leading almost the entire race. Tomas admits the highlight of his career came in 2001 when he competed in three Formula One races, finishing 12th in the Italian Grand Prix, 14th in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 19th in the Japanese Grand Prix. He is the first driver from the Czech Republic to turn laps in an F1 car.
Tomas was named the 48th best driver in the world in AutoSport Magazine's December issue of the Top 50 Drivers in the World. Ironically, Tomas Scheckter was two spots ahead of his new teammate, as the #46 overall driver listed by AutoSport. Enge and Scheckter were teammates once before in 2000 while both competed in the Formula 3000 International Championship with the McLaren Junior Team, and once finished 1-2 in a race at Hockenheim where Enge maneuvered past Scheckter -- who was in his first race with the team -- in a dramatic last lap pass on the circuit's final straightaway.
"Obviously, Tomas has much more experience in the IRL, so he will be my benchmark," Enge said. "I think that in the IRL it is very important how the teammates work together. We are the only Chevrolet team, so our cooperation will be even more important. It is very good when you have an opportunity to compare data and information with someone who is very competitive."
Enge's Race Engineer will be Andy Borme, who joined Panther this offseason to engineer the #2 entry. Borme was an engineer with Team Penske during both of Helio Castroneves' Indianapolis 500 victories in 2001 and 2002. David Cripps returns as Race Engineer for Scheckter and the #4 Pennzoil Chevrolet, while veteran Panther Chief Engineer Andy Brown will oversee both cars again this season. Steve "Snak" Namisnak will serve as the Chief Mechanic on the #2 Chevrolet.