Witherill to drive in Infiniti Pro Series Hemelgarn/Johnson completes two-car team with Native American driver FONTANA, Calif., Saturday, March 23, 2002 - Native American Cory Witherill will drive the No. 92 Hemelgarn 91/Johnson...
Witherill to drive in Infiniti Pro Series
Hemelgarn/Johnson completes two-car team with Native American driver
FONTANA, Calif., Saturday, March 23, 2002 - Native American Cory Witherill will drive the No. 92 Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports entry in the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, Indy Racing League championship team owner Ron Hemelgarn announced March 23.
"If it has wheels and goes fast, Cory has probably driven it," Hemelgarn said. "His passion for racing is exemplified in his resume. From a driver to a sprint-car owner, he has done it all."
Witherill, 30, made his Indy Racing League debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in April 2001. One month later, he qualified 31st and finished 19th at the Indianapolis 500.
An accomplished off-road racer, Witherill won the PACE U.S. Off Road Championship in the Super 1600 dune buggy class in 1998 and 1999. He also has competed in the Shelby Pro series, Formula Ford 2000 series, SCRA sprint-car series and Dayton Indy Lights series.
Witherill, from Santa Monica, Calif., is a Navajo and is believed to be the only full-blooded Native American driving in professional open-wheel racing. He will team with 19-year-old USAC Midget and Silver Crown standout Aaron Fike under the Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports banner.
"The Infiniti Pro Series is an excellent opportunity to get back in Indy Racing League competition in the future," Witherill said. "Being involved with Ron is a dream come true. With my past experience in Indy Lights and the association with a championship team such as Hemelgarn Racing, hopefully we can come out on top with a championship."
Hemelgarn has owned an IRL team since the series' inception in 1996. He fields the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Buddy Lazier, who won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and the 2000 Indy Racing League championship. Hemelgarn has partnered with Indy Racing newcomer and USAC Silver Crown team owner Roger Johnson for the 2002 Infiniti Pro Series campaign.
The inaugural season of the Infiniti Pro Series will begin July 7 at Kansas Speedway and culminate with the Sept. 14 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Nashville Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Gateway International Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway also will play host to Infiniti Pro Series events in 2002.
The 100-mile Infiniti Pro Series "sprints" will take place at the same track and on the same day as Indy Racing League events except for the Texas race, which will take place the day before the IRL's season-ending Chevy 500.
Infiniti Q45 engines will power new Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines will produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 650-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the Indy Racing League.