Derek Higgins added to series staff

Derek Higgins To Join Chris Kneifel in Overseeing Motorock Trans-Am Series Competition. INDIANAPOLIS (April 1, 2004) -- As part of him being named Champ Car Steward and Director of Support Series Competition, Former Indy Lights racer Derek...

Derek Higgins To Join Chris Kneifel in Overseeing Motorock Trans-Am Series Competition.

INDIANAPOLIS (April 1, 2004) -- As part of him being named Champ Car Steward and Director of Support Series Competition, Former Indy Lights racer Derek Higgins will oversee competition in this year's Motorock Trans-Am Series championship. Higgins, who has nearly two decades of experience as a driver, team manager and professional driving coach, will work full time out of the Champ Car's Indianapolis offices and will report to Champ Car Race Director and former Trans-Am driver Chris Kneifel.

Higgins and Kneifel will oversee Trans-Am competition at all 10 races this season, using the successful team model used by the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford series. Higgins will be the primary contact for all Trans-Am officiating and decisions made during the qualifying sessions and the races. Higgins, along with Kneifel, will be assisted by up to six other team members monitoring the races.

Higgins was most recently employed as a professional drivers' coach for rising Champ Car star Rodolfo Lavin. He most recently competed in Indy Lights, and has also raced in Formula Ford, F-3 and F3000 competition. Higgins, who was born in Ireland, is also fluent in Spanish.

"I'm very excited to join the Trans-Am Series," said Higgins. "Although this is a bit of career change, having driven and observed cars gives me a very good perspective from which to officiate races. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"Working with this team is going to make my job a lot easier," added Higgins. "We'll work together to come to the right decision. The team allows me to see the bigger picture. I'm glad to be part of this team and I plan to have a positive effect.

"We have the competitors' best interest at heart," concluded Higgins. "We want good racing. We want to keep it fair."

Kneifel becomes the first Trans-Am Race Director to have graduated from the Trans-Am ranks as a driver. Kneifel, who will also continue to oversee the competition in the Champ Car World Series, Toyota Atlantic, and Formula BMW, has three victories in 69 starts in Trans-Am competition and won the Rookie of the Year title in 1985.

"Derek is a great addition to the Trans-Am and Champ Car organizations," said Kneifel. "He comes from a very diverse background. He's competed as a driver, he's managed teams and he's been a proven driving coach. He's been trained on the track, and this will be an easy transition for him.

"The real key here is Derek is entering into a team that has a proven formula," added Kneifel. "Derek is surrounded with people that come from very diverse backgrounds. He'll have the opportunity to pool the resources from the experienced people around him. This is a very well-oiled team. They've been together for a long time and have performed very well in the past. He's a very solid addition to this team.

"This is also a big fundamental change for the Trans-Am Series," continued Kneifel. "Our system will allow Derek to make the decisions while the Race Director follows the race, allowing him to make those calls quickly. We also have new technology in race control, allowing us to use the very best tools to make the best decision possible."

"We would like to welcome Derek to the Trans-Am team and it's sort of a homecoming to have Chris involved with Trans-Am again," said Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. "Both Derek and Chris possess the skills, knowledge and personality that make them valuable additions. I particularly like the fact that both of them have time in the driver's seat. Bringing that driver's perspective to their respective jobs is very important.

"The Champ Car team concept is a first in Trans-Am's 39-year history and is certain to help ensure that the right calls are made in a timely manner during each of our events this season," added Clagett. "The deep experience of the team will allow for best decisions possible without compromising the competition on track. Additionally, the added electronic resources will allow the team to monitor and oversee the event in ways not previously possible in Trans-Am competition."

The Motorock Trans-Am Series kicks off its 2004 season April 16-18 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 18, immediately following the Champ Car World Series event.

The Motorock Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th anniversary in 2004.

Motorock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcases the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Derek Higgins , Rodolfo Lavin