Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the
Atlantic Championshiop series..
North Americas Premier Driver
Development Series Enters a New Era
The History of Atlantic
Fast Facts - Atlantic 101
Contact, Home Page
Related Issue: Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women, Champ Car
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North Americas Premier Driver Development Series Enters a New Era
Now fully under the Champ Car banner, the Atlantic Championship bid farewell to longtime sponsor and engine supplier Toyota at the end of the 2005 season. The series has created an all-new competition package better designed to prepare drivers to compete at the highest levels of racing. Exciting new relationships with series engine partners Mazda and Cosworth have opened up new doors while trusted longtime partners Swift Engineering and Yokohama have worked hard to help create the new breed of Atlantic cars.
The all-new, made in the USA Atlantic Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine capable of producing 300-horsepower while riding on Yokohama tires will raise the level of competition this season. And the unprecedented $2 million bonus designed for the series champion to use in securing a full-time Champ Car ride in 2007 has helped to generate overwhelming interest in Atlantic from across the globe.
All of these ingredients blended together have helped create an exciting new formula for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. And while much is new about the series in 2006, the tradition and the spirit of Atlantic racing remain the same.
The list of Atlantic graduates over the past 32 years reads like a whos who of open-wheel racing royalty. Rahal. Vasser. Villeneuve. Sullivan. Andretti. Rosberg. Tracy. Hornish. Wheldon. Every one of the aforementioned drivers used the series as a springboard to legendary careers in open-wheel racing worldwide, and it is that heritage that has given the Champ Car Atlantic Championship the right to declare itself the premier open-wheel driver development series in North America.
As it should be, the Champ Car World Series has reaped the most benefits from drivers with previous Atlantic experience. Ten of 28 Champ Car series championships have been won by former Atlantic competitors, including three-time Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal, 1988 champ Danny Sullivan, two-time champion Al Unser Jr., 95 titlist Jacques Villeneuve, 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser and 2003 champ Paul Tracy. Michael Andretti, the 1983 Atlantic champion, parlayed his Atlantic success into a career that made him the winningest driver in Champ Car World Series history and earned him the 1991 series crown.
Atlantic graduates also accounted for 176 Champ Car victories through the end of the 20045 season, or 41 percent of all Champ Car races have been won by drivers who used Atlantic as their stepping stone. With a talented crop of recent Atlantic grads in the series, led by 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger, 2004 top Atlantic rookie Andrew Ranger, 04 Atlantic grad Ronnie Bremer and last years Atlantic sensation Katherine Legge, look for that number to grow even larger in the years to come.
However, the open-wheel racing success of Atlantic graduates does not stop with the Champ Car World Series. Two former Atlantic competitors, Keke Rosberg and Jacques Villeneuve, have claimed the worlds biggest racing prize, the Formula One World Championship. Likewise, the winningest driver in Indy Racing League history and the Indy Car series only two-time champion, Sam Hornish Jr., came up through Champ Car Atlantic. Dan Wheldon, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and the 2005 IRL series champion cut his teeth in Atlantic competition. Buddy Rice, the 2000 Atlantic champion and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, also rose through the Atlantic ranks as did 1999 IRL champion Greg Ray, 2005 IRL Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and a host of other Indy Car race winners.
Heading into its 33rd season in 2006, the series is poised to continue churning out top-level prospects for racing team owners. The series features a 12-race calendar with popular stops throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and unsurpassed television coverage in the U.S. and Canada via SPEED Channel.
Theres no doubt that the Champ Car Atlantic Championship has
seen many talented drivers and teams pass through its ranks over the
past 32 years. The series is poised to continue that tradition in
2006 and beyond.
The History of Atlantic
The new breed of Atlantic stars are hoping to one day follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in racing who honed their skills and matured both on and off the track in the Atlantic Championship. For more than 32 years, Atlantic has served as the proving ground for the best and the brightest in single-seat, open-wheel racing.
From racing legends like Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg, Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan who began making their names in Atlantic in the 1970s to Michael Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, and Jimmy Vasser in the 80s and 90s and recent rising stars like A.J. Allmendinger, Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon, no other driver development series in North America can boast of more race and championship winners than the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.
Sprouting from the roots of Formula B, Atlantic began in 1974 with the advent of the four-valve-per-cylinder, 1600cc four-cylinder Cosworth BDA engine. With sponsorship support from Canadian tobacco giant, Players, sanctioning from the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs (CASC), and Canadian national television coverage on CTVs weekly Wide World of Sports, Atlantic held its first event on the weekend of May 26, 1974 at the Westwood circuit in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.
Oregonian Allen Lader claimed the first-ever race victory in the Players Challenge Series as it was known in those days. Torontos Bill Brack won the first two series championships, facing down stiff competition from American Tom Klausler and Swedens Bertil Roos, among many other talented competitors.
However, the series cemented its place in open-wheel racing in 1976, when French Canadian Gilles Villeneuve established himself as a future star in a dominating season. Villeneuve won five races and six pole positions in the CASC-sanctioned Players Challenge Series in Canada, and won an additional four races and three poles in the six-race IMSA Formula Atlantic Championship on his way to both series championships.
Looking back, Villeneuves accomplishments were absolutely extraordinary, considering that he routinely beat future major league competitors such as Price Cobb, Rahal, Howdy Holmes, Tom Gloy, and Elliot Forbes-Robinson, and topped established Formula 1 stars James Hunt, Alan Jones, Patrick Depailler, and Vittorio Brambilla, to win the non-points event at Trois-Rivieres in Villeneuves native Quebec.
When Villeneuve parlayed his Atlantic dominance into a Formula 1 ride with McLaren following yet another Atlantic championship in 1977, the die was cast and Atlantic was the place to be for aspiring race drivers. Holmes claimed the 1978 title over Finlands Rosberg, with Cobb, Jeff Wood, Rahal, Sullivan, and Kevin Cogan also in the mix.
In 1979, Gloy became the series fourth champion, topping Cogan, Wood, Holmes, and Bob Earl.
Out of this era, Villeneuve went on to become a legend in Formula 1, winning six grands prix after joining Ferarri in 1978 and establishing himself as a fan favorite before his untimely death in a crash during qualifying at Zolder in 1982. Rosberg also went on to greatness in F1, as he claimed five grand prix victories and the 82 world championship in a career that spanned nine seasons.
In North America, Rahal became a 24-time race winner and one of only two three-time Champ Car champions. Sullivan won 17 Champ Car races of his own, including the famous spin and win at the 1985 Indianapolis 500, and claimed the 1988 Champ Car title.
Cogan also made a name for himself in Champ Cars in the mid-1980s, culminating in a victory at Phoenix in 1986 and a near miss in the 1986 Indy 500 that was won by Rahal. Holmes and Wood would also go on to see significant seat time in Champ Cars, while Cobb, Forbes-Robinson, Gloy and Earl would become certified sports car racing heroes.
Picking up where his brother left off a few years earlier, the 1980 and 81 seasons belonged to Jacques Villeneuve. In 1980, Jacques won a series-high four races and three pole positions to beat Gloy to the Atlantic title by 10 points in the closest title fight in series history to that point. Close behind Gloy was Steve Saleen, followed by Cobb and Wood. The following year, Villeneuve claimed another four victories and his second consecutive series title, this time over Mexican Rogelio Rodriguez, and Whitney Ganz, while drivers such as Geoff Brabham, Chris Kneifel, and Willy T. Ribbs also tried their hand at Atlantic in 1981.
The 1982 crown went to Dave McMillan, from New Zealand, who became the first driver from overseas to win an Atlantic championship. Among the drivers McMillan beat to the crown was Mexican Josele Garza and Brazils Roberto Moreno, and Al Unser Jr.
In 1983, Michael Andretti burst onto the Atlantic scene and promptly became the series youngest champion (a record that still stands today). Andretti won three races and a series high five pole positions to outdistance Moreno, who led the series in victories with four. The 1983 season was the first and only sanctioned by FIA, and the series faced possible extinction.
However, a group of Atlantic enthusiasts Jon Norman, Tim Fortner, and Rick and Gudrun Sheakept the dream alive and formed the West Coast Atlantic Racing (WCAR) series for 1984. Dan Marvin claimed the inaugural WCAR championship ahead of Chris Bender, and John Della Penna.
The following year, Vicki OConnor, whose husband, Bill, was a stout Atlantic competitor in the early days of the series, took a page from the WCAR book and formed East Coast Atlantic Racing (ECAR) for the 1985 season. Wood went on to win the 85 WCAR title over Marvin, while Michael Angus beat Steve Shelton, James Opperman, and Michael Greenfield to the ECAR title in the first year of bi-coastal championships.
Ted Prappas claimed the 1986 WCAR title over Roberto Quintanilla, while Scott Goodyear topped Calvin Fish for series honors in ECAR. After narrowly missing the ECAR crown in 86, Fish won the 1987 title on the strength of three wins to beat Shelton, and a little known Canadian named Paul Tracy made a few ECAR starts in 87 as well. Out west, Johnny OConnell bested Dean Hall, Parker Johnstone, Jon Beekhuis, Prappas, and Jeff Krosnoff, while Vasser claimed his first Atlantic race victory in WCAR competition in 1987.
After finishing second one year earlier, Hall used five victories and six pole positions as his springboard to the 1988 WCAR title over Mitch Thieman and Hiro Matsushita. Shelton, meanwhile, finally claimed an Atlantic title of his own after finishing second twice and third once in his previous three seasons. Shelton topped the likes of Jocko Cunningham, Scott Harrington, Colin Trueman, and Robbie Buhl to take the 1988 ECAR crown.
Following the 1988 season, Toyota Motor Sales, USA signed on to become the series title sponsor and official engine supplier, while Yokohama Tire Corporation became the series official rubber in what was a defining moment for Atlantic. Matsushita won the Pacific Division of the first Toyota Atlantic Championship in 1989, topping Joe Sposato and Mark Dismore, while Cunningham improved his position from the previous year by one place to take the Atlantic Division title ahead of Trueman and Claude Bourbonnais.
Like the 70s, Atlantic saw its share of graduates from the 1980s make names for themselves in the big leagues as well. Andretti was the most successful, as he went on to become the winningest driver in the Champ Car World Series and the 1991 Champ Car champion. Unser Jr., Vasser, and Tracy would also go on to become multi-time Champ Car race winners and series champions.
Moreno, Andrettis chief competitor in 83, also parlayed his Atlantic success into a fruitful career in Formula 1 and Champ Car racing, the latter in which the Brazilian enjoyed two career victories. Goodyear used Atlantic as his springboard to a successful career in Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, while Jacques Villeneuve also earned a Champ Car victory and became a snowmobile racing legend.
Dismore, who raced Atlantic into the 90s, became the series winningest driver and later enjoyed success in the Indy Racing League, as did Buhl. Garza, Greenfield, Prappas, Hall, Johnstone, Beekhuis, Krosnoff, Matsushita, Harrington, and Bourbonnais all made it to Champ Cars, while Saleen, Brabham, and Kneifel also had significant Champ Car seat time.
Saleen went on to become something of a hot rod magnate, while Brabham starred as a sports car racer in the late 1980s and Kneifel won a Rolex 24 at Daytona title in 2001 prior to becoming a race official in Champ Car. Likewise, OConnell also raced open-wheel cars in the IRL before moving on to become a successful sports car racer in his own right. Ribbs was another driver who eventually found his way to Champ Cars, but he also was successful in sports cars and even tried his hand at NASCAR. And Della Penna transitioned into the team ownership ranks, winning an Atlantic title with driver Richie Hearn in the 90s before taking his whole program to the Indy Racing League, and later, the Champ Car World Series.
In its final year as a split championship, Dismore dominated the Pacific Division of Toyota Atlantic in 1990 to the tune of eight victories and the series championship, while Brian Till bested Bourbonnais and Freddy Rhemrev to claim the Atlantic Division crown.
In the first year as a unified series, Jovy Marcelo of the Philippines beat Vasser to the 91 title by a scant four points, while Chris Smith beat Steve Cameron to the title by just five points to take the crown in 1992.
The Atlantic competition reached a fever pitch in 1993, as Canadians David Empringham, Bourbonnais, and Jacques Villeneuve Gilles son and Jacques nephewfought tooth and nail throughout the season before Empringham wrapped up the title. Empringham would take his second straight Atlantic title in 1994, topping Hearn and Greg Ray, before Hearn returned the favor in 1995 and beat Empringham in the championship.
In 1996, Quebecois Patrick Carpentier tied Gilles Villeneuves record for victories in a single season with nine on his way to a dominant championship for Lynx Racing over fellow Canadian Lee Bentham. The following year, Lynx was back atop the points table with rookie driver Alex Barron beating teammate Memo Gidley and Canadian Alex Tagliani for the 97 Toyota Atlantic title.
Bentham ended the Lynx run of dominance in 1998 as the series transitioned from the well-developed Ralt to the new Swift chassis, beating Andrew Bordin, Gidley, Anthony Lazzaro, and Tagliani. And Lazzaro closed out the 90s with four wins and five poles on his way to the 1999 championship over Kenny Wilden, Bordin, Tagliani, Buddy Rice, Bentham and Sam Hornish Jr.
The 1990s produced Atlantics second Formula 1 world champion, as Villeneuve parlayed his 1995 Indianapolis 500 victory and Champ Car World Series title into an F1 ride with Williams and he went on to win the F1 crown in 1997.
Carpentier became a multiple-time Champ Car race winner, while Marcelo, Barron, Gidley and Tagliani also went on to race Champ Cars. Ray went on to win the 1999 IRL championship, while Hornish became the winningest driver in IRL history and the series only two-time champion to date.
The 2000 Toyota Atlantic Championship featured another dominating performance, as Rice won five times en route to the championship in the first year of Atlantic competition for DSTP Motorsports. Rice bested Dan Wheldon, Bordin, Martin Basso, and Rocky Moran Jr. to claim the title.
In 2001, Brazilian Hoover Orsi brought a championship to Hylton Motorsports ahead of Lynx Racing pilot David Rutledge and rookie Joey Hand, while Jon Fogarty won the 2002 crown for Dorricott Racing in their first year of Atlantic competition after moving over from Indy Lights. Fogarty claimed his title ahead of Michael Valiante, Alex Gurney, Luis Diaz, Moran, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Dalziel, and Rodolfo Lavin.
First-year driver and American open-wheel rising star A.J. Allmendinger re-wrote several Atlantic records in a dominating championship performance in 2003 for RuSPORT. Allmendinger tied Gilles Villeneuves record for most poles in a single season (9), while establishing a new record for victories in a season by a rookie driver with seven on his way to the championship over Dalziel.
The 2004 season saw Fogarty record six wins and six poles en route to his second championship but he still had to hold off the hard-charging Dalziel, who earned four victories and five poles to finish as series runner-up for the second consecutive year. Talented female racer Danica Patrick was third in the title hunt followed by rookies Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer.
Several surprising performances surfaced last season as a rookie-dominated field showed its mettle in the 2005 campaign. As the series bid farewell to longtime sponsor Toyota after 17 memorable years, another aggressive female racing star earned international acclaim. Great Britains Katherine Legge re-wrote history as she became the first woman ever to win a major open-wheel race in North America when she captured the checkered flag at Long Beach in the season opener. Legge added two more race wins as she pursued the series title. European road racer Charles Zwolsman of the Netherlands enjoyed a dream season of his own as he recorded three wins and a series-high five poles, giving Condor Motorsports its first Atlantic title in its sixth year in the series. Zwolsman outlasted Tonis Kasemets of Estonia in the title chase while Legge finished third.
Atlantic graduates from the 2000s have already made their presence felt at the top levels of open-wheel racing. Hunter-Reay became the first American rookie driver since 1982 to win a Champ Car race in his first year when he took the top prize at Surfers Paradise, Australia, and he added to his resume in 2004 by claiming his second Champ Car winthis time at the Milwaukee Mile. Lavin joined him in the Champ Car ranks in 2003 while Bremer and Ranger emerged as two of Champ Cars top rookies last season. Meanwhile, Wheldon, Patrick and Rice are three of the biggest stars on IRLs IndyCar circuit. Wheldon won both the Indianapolis 500 and the IRL title in 2005 while Patrick was named the series top rookie after capturing three pole positions. Rice won the Indy 500 in 2004 and finished third overall in the series standings that year.
Allmendinger is poised to become the next great American Champ Car star. The California native won Champ Car Rookie of the Year honors in 2004 and hes recorded seven podium finishes in two seasons. He earned a fifth-place finish in the 2005 Champ Car World Series with his RuSPORT team.
Legge and Zwolsman are poised to join the Champ Car ranks in 2006, looking to continue the strong tradition of Atlantic success in the series.
In 2006, there are a host of competitors looking to establish
their names in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship on their way to
stardom. With series now firmly entrenched under the Champ Car banner
and a new car and the $2 million champions bonus attracting the
worlds top competitors, the future of Atlantic racing appears
to be just as bright as its star-studded past.
Fast Facts - Atlantic 101
SERIES MANAGING DIRECTOR:
May 26, 1974 at Westwood, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. The winner was Allan Lader driving a Chevron B27/Cosworth.
Mazda USA, Yokohama Tire Corporation.
Single-seat, open-wheel, Champ Car-type vehicles manufactured by Swift Engineering. The Swift 016.a, which makes its debut this season, is the designated spec chassis for the championship in 2006.
2.3-liter, four-cylinder, non-turbocharged, 16-valve, fuel-injected, Mazda MZR engines, capable of producing 300 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and speeds in excess of 175 mph. Engine development provided by Cosworth.
Purpose-built, Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, manufactured by the Yokohama Tire Corporation.
TYPES OF VENUES:
Events are contested on temporary street courses and permanent road circuits. All races are sprint events between 60 and 100 miles in length and are subject to a 50-minute time limit if the scheduled distance is not completed.
Twelve events in three countries (United States, Canada, and Mexico). All events are run in conjunction with the Champ Car World Series.
A Champ Car Atlantic team can run the full, 12-race schedule for approximately $650,000.
In addition to a share of the $500,000 year-end points fund, the 2006 Atlantic champion will be awarded an unprecedented $2 million bonus designed to help them compete in the 2007 Champ Car World Series. Total prize and bonus money for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship exceeds $3 million, making it among the richest open-wheel development series in North America.
NOTEABLE SERIES GRADUATES:
A.J. Allmendinger, Michael Andretti, Geoff Brabham, Vittorio Brambilla, Ronnie Bremer, Patrick Carpentier, Price Cobb, Kevin Cogan, Ryan Dalziel, Patrick Depailler, Simona de Silvestro, Mark Dismore, David Empringham, Jon Fogarty, Elliot Forbes-Robinson, Memo Gidley, Tom Gloy, Scott Goodyear, Richie Hearn, Howdy Holmes, Sam Hornish Jr., James Hunt, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alan Jones, Rodolfo Lavin, Anthony Lazzaro, Katherine Legge, Hiro Matsushita, Roberto Moreno, Johnny OConnell, Danica Patrick, Bobby Rahal, Andrew Ranger, Greg Ray, Buddy Rice, Keke Rosberg, Steve Saleen, Danny Sullivan, Patrick Tambay, Alex Tagliani, Brian Till, Paul Tracy, Al Unser Jr., Michael Valiante, Jimmy Vasser, Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Villeneuve (brother of Gilles), Jacques Villeneuve (son of Gilles), Dan Wheldon and Charles Zwolsman.
All 2006 Champ Car Atlantic events were broadcast on a tape-delayed basis in Canada and the United States on SPEED Channel. Some Atlantic events may also be broadcast internationally in 2006.
Top 20 finishers per race earn championship points (31-27-25-23-21-19-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) with bonus points awarded for the fastest qualifier on each day of road and street course qualifying (1 each day), any driver who leads a lap (1 per race), the driver who turns the fastest race lap (1), and the driver who improves the most from starting position to finishing position (1).
For road and street circuit events, a total of two championship
points may be up for grabs. On event weekends where there is a single
Atlantic race scheduled, the driver who sets the fastest time in the
first round of qualifying will be awarded one championship point, and
will be guaranteed a front row starting position for the race. If the
same driver also sets the fastest lap in the second round of
qualifying, that driver will be awarded a second championship point
and will start from the pole position. If a different driver is
fastest in second-round qualifying, the driver will earn one
championship point, and the front row of the starting grid will
consist of the fastest first round qualifier and the fastest second
round qualifier, with the driver who posted the fastest speed
starting from the pole position. The remainder of the starting grid
will be established by each drivers fastest lap out of the two
qualifying sessions. On doubleheader race weekends, only one round of
qualifying will be held for each race and one championship point will
be available for the fastest qualifier.
5350 Lakeview Parkway, South Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Phone: (317) 715-4100
Fax: (317) 715-4119
Phone: (317) 715-4100 E-Mail
Champ Car Atlantic Communications Manager
Phone: (586) 630-1474 E-Mail