Series Autobahn rounds 8, 9 preview

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AUTOBAHN DOUBLE-HEADER LIVE ON HDnet THIS WEEKEND The HARRAH'S Grand Prix of Autobahn presented by MAZDA -- featuring rounds 8 and 9 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- will be broadcast live on...

The HARRAH'S Grand Prix of Autobahn presented by MAZDA -- featuring rounds 8 and 9 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- will be broadcast live on HDnet this weekend.

This is a double-header weekend for the Star Mazda Championship with races on both Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Air times are 2-3 pm ET (1--3 pm local) on Saturday, July 25 and 1-4 ET (Noon -- 3 pm local) Sunday, July 26. Famed racer and ESPN motorsports commentator Elliott Forbes-Robinson is the on-air analyst. Rick Benjamin is the host/play by play broadcaster and Bill Stephens is the pit reporter.JBoth Benjamin and Stephens are veterans of calling the Champ Car World Series on network and national cable.

With drivers from ten countries, a big field of cars and a new leader in the championship battle -- Irishman Peter Dempsey (#3 Juncos Racing / HOOTERS / Motorsport Ireland / Mazda) took the lead with an emotional win (his second of the season) in Round 7, a hundred laps of non-stop action under the lights of Iowa Speedway in the Pizza Ranch 100 on July 10 -- the competition will be fierce.J The only other two-race winner of the year so far, Englishman Adam Christodoulou (#11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda), is just nine points back and looking to regain the championship lead he lost with a 5th-place finish at Iowa. Three other drivers who have also scored wins this season, including Richard Kent (#33 Andersen Racing / Traka / Lafarge / Allied Interior Products Mazda), Anders Krohn (#27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda) and Conor Daly (#22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda) and also prime contenders for victory at Autobahn. And a dozen others are hungry to -- and perfectly capable of -- breaking through into the win column.

Daly, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion and son of F1/Indy Car/Sports Car racing legend and noted motorsports broadcaster Derek Daly, is this year's MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder winner and is racing with sponsorship support from the program. The 2008 Star Mazda champion, John Edwards, is racing in the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda with sponsorship from the Ladder program; the Atlantic series is also on the schedule at Autobahn and will be part of the HDnet broadcast. Both the Star Mazda Championship and the Atlantic Championship are rungs on the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, the only automaker-supported motorsports scholarship program reaching from entry-level karting to the top levels of the sport.J Expert (drivers 30 to 44 years old) and Master (45 and older) competitors will also be well represented, including Iowa class winner and new Expert points leader, Japanese Racer Toshihio Deki (#80 Goshen Motorsports Mazda) and Californian Mike Guasch, leading the Master series with three class wins so far this season.

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear ( is the college basketball/ baseball/football of Indy 500-style auto racing, a high-speed training ground for future stars of the sport. Series graduates -- including Indy Car stars Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal -- have gone on to race in F1, Indy Cars, NASCAR, ALMS and Grand-Am.JStar Mazda race cars have a top speed of 160 mph and 0 to 60 mph acceleration takes just 2.8 seconds. Prizes for 2009 are worth $1.5 million, including a fully-sponsored drive in the 2010 Atlantic Championship for the Star Mazda series champion.

On-track Star Mazda Championship action in the HARRAH'S Autobahn Grand Prix presented by MAZDA begins with several practice sessions during a 'promoter test day' on Thursday, July 23. Official practice begins with 10:45 -- 11:30 am and 4:45 -- 5:30 pm sessions on Friday, July 24.JQualifying for Race #1 (Round 8 of the 2009 season) takes place 8:00 -- 8:45 am Saturday, July 25. Race #1 is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:05 pm Saturday afternoon. Qualifying for Race #2 (Round 9 of the 2009 season), takes place 6:35 -- 7:20 mp Saturday night, with Race #2 scheduled to start at 1:00 pm Sunday, July 26. Both races will utilize the always-exciting Star Mazda standing start.J Next up on the 2009 schedule for the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is a two-race swing through Canada; as a featured race at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivi0x00e8res on August 16, and with the American Le Mans Series prototypes in the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport on August 29. Current championship leader Peter Dempsey won both of these races in 2008, his first year competing in the Star Mazda Championship.J The 2009 season wraps up with a final pair of ALMS races; at Road Atlanta on September 25 and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.

-credit: mazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Graham Rahal , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Skip Barber , Marco Andretti , Mike Guasch , John Edwards , Peter Dempsey , Richard Kent , Conor Daly , Anders Krohn