Excruciatingly close competition has been the hallmark of the FedEx Championship Series. It was punctuated by the back-to-back 1998/1999 series domination of Alex Zanardi and Juan Montoya, but it has re-emerged …with a vengeance. Seven different winners in eight races this year have made the Championship point race tighter than ever.
As a result of his six top-10 finishes (including three trips to the podium) the oldest young man in the series, Roberto Moreno, went from sitting atop Mad Max Papis' shoulder on the podium at the season opener in Homestead to sitting atop the points leader board after eight races. Moreno is now just one precarious point ahead of the series' only double-winner, Gil de Ferran. Pupo's uniquely strong effort in this, his first-ever full-season Champ Car campaign, combined with the previous points leader's (Paul Tracy) three consecutive non-scoring appearances, has propelled the diminutive Brazilian to the top of the scoring chart.
Going into Round 9 at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport temporary circuit, the top-5 point scorers are: Moreno (68 points), de Ferran (67 points), Tracy (59 points), Michael Andretti (56 points) and Jimmy Vasser (54 points). The next 10 drivers in the standings could easily launch themselves into the top-5 with a couple of consecutive outstanding performances.
Both Team Rahal drivers (Max Papis and Kenny Brack) are tied with 47 points. Brack also currently leads Rookie of the Year contenders (Oriol Servia has 31 points, Alex Tagliani has 26). Reigning CART Champion Juan Montoya has 46 points. Last year's runner-up Dario Franchitti and the "dashing" Helio Castroneves are tied with 44 points each. They round out the Top-10.
The Cleveland event itself is "back from the dead", so to speak. When the promoters sold-out to the IRL in protest of CART's rising sanctioning fees (the circuit would have been converted from a temporary roadcourse to a temporary oval) Cleveland's Mayor White stepped in. He ordered new contract negotiations with CART. Ultimately, a compromise was worked out and the well-liked, well-attended event is now "back" on the schedule. Thanks Mayor White!
Burke's wide runways and taxiways make for exciting side-by-side racing action. Grassy run-off areas and the absence of concrete barriers tend to make drivers feel safe enough to attempt passes almost anywhere. Wide racing lines and late, hard braking make for unmatched dicing, passing and lead change potential. Any seat in the Cleveland grandstands offers good, unobstructed viewing of the action on this flat, continuous circuit.
Set-up is the key to success at Cleveland. There are no open tests at any of CART's temporary circuits, so "dialing it in" during pre-race practice sessions is very challenging and critically important. Cars must be set up for optimized straightaway speed while downforce must be maintained to allow for the hard cornering and braking that are necessary in the circuit's tight corners. Aggressive driving has always characterized Champ Car racing at Cleveland. Current drivers who have mastered the course include Gil de Ferran, Bryan Herta (who continues to sub for the injured Tony Kanaan) and Juan Montoya.
With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame right next door to the track and plenty of cultural and entertainment opportunities to be found in the resurgent city of Cleveland the ingredients for one fine "Fourth of July" weekend are certainly in place. Expect plenty of fireworks…and loud rockin' music!
CART Press Release
FIRST-TIME CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER MORENO LEADS TALENTED FIELD TO MARCONI GRAND
PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR
DETROIT (June 28, 2000) - With seven different race winners in its first
eight events, the FedEx Championship Series has been unpredictable during
the 2000 season. As the series heads to the shores of Lake Erie this weekend
for Round 9, the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar (1
p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV) it does so with a seven-year veteran who is not even
among this season's winners yet leading the championship for the first time
in his career.
That distinction belongs to Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, who brings a
one-point lead, 68-67, in the championship over Gil de Ferran of Marlboro
Team Penske, the season's only two-time winner to date. Moreno (Visteon Ford
Reynard) has parlayed a consistent finishing record, highlighted by a
runner-up effort last week at Portland, matching a career best, into the
points lead. Moreno, who is still seeking his first career FedEx
Championship Series victory, owns six top-10 finishes in his first eight
starts, with additional podium results of second at Homestead and third at
"It's a reward, really," said Moreno, in his first year at Patrick Racing.
"We put in a lot of hard work. We've been chasing and knocking on the door.
We worked very, very hard, and I never expected myself to be on the podium a
couple of times before the sixth or seventh race. I feel very, very good
about it because I did develop a great relationship with the team. So I
feel now we can fight on equal terms [with other drivers]."
And what a fight it is shaping up to be. De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard)
has parlayed victories in two of the past four events (Nazareth and
Portland) into second place in the points race while Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda
Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, the season's early leader, stands third with 59
Interestingly, Moreno's three closest pursuers in the championship battle
are all former winners at the 2.106-mile temporary circuit laid out on the
runways of Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport. De Ferran drove to victory
in 1996, Tracy in 1993 and fourth-place Michael Andretti (Big
Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) in 1991. Andretti, of Newman/Haas Racing,
arrives in Cleveland with 56 championship points, two ahead of Target Chip
Ganassi Racing driver Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), who stands fifth in
the championship with 54.
Moreno's top finish in three career appearances at Cleveland came last year
when he took eighth while substituting for the injured Mark Blundell with
the PacWest Racing Group. He led three laps of that event and is the only
driver to have led at least one lap in all three of this season's road or
street course events to date.
Defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion
Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing joins de
Ferran, Tracy and Andretti on the roster of previous Cleveland winners in
this weekend's field. He drove to victory from the pole in unpredictable
weather conditions last year, leading a race-high 76 of the 90 laps.
This year, for the first time in FedEx Championship Series history, all cars
ride on Firestone Firehawks, the Official Tire of CART.
The Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar concludes a stretch
of three consecutive weekends of FedEx Championship Series competition. The
series takes a weekend off before continuing with Round 10, the Molson Indy,
June 14-16 at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
* Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing has taken
the FedEx Championship Series points lead for the first time in his
seven-year career by recording top-10 finishes in six of eight starts to
date. En route to a series-leading 68 points, Moreno has recorded runner-up
efforts at Homestead and Portland, matching the season-best he established
at Laguna Seca last season, and a third-place finish at Japan. He is the
only FedEx Championship Series driver to have led at least one lap in each
of the three road or street course events to date - 10 at Long Beach, 1 at
Detroit and 4 at Portland.
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske has
won two of the past four FedEx Championship Series events (Nazareth and
Portland) and has moved into second place in the championship with 67
points. He has scored championship points in seven of eight starts, a series
high, and also owns pole positions at Homestead and Long Beach.
* De Ferran's teammate, Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of
Marlboro Team Penske, has finished seventh or better in all three FedEx
Championship Series starts on road or street courses this season. He
finished second at Long Beach, claimed the first victory of his three-year
career at Detroit, then finished seventh from the pole at Portland last
week. He stands ninth in the championship with 44 points.
* Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of
Newman/Haas Racing has earned top-10 finishes in five of his past six FedEx
Championship Series starts, including a victory at Japan - his CART
career-leading 39th - a runner-up effort at Milwaukee and fourth at
Portland. He stands fourth in the championship with 56 points.
* Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal has finished
sixth or better in four of his past five starts, topped by his first career
podium finish of third at Nazareth. Also included are fourth at Milwaukee,
fifth at Japan and sixth at Portland.
* Rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports
has finished eighth or better in all three FedEx Championship Series events
contested on road or street courses this season. Included was his first
career podium finish of third at Detroit. He also took sixth at Long Beach
and eighth at Portland.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Gil de Ferran has earned three podium finishes and a pole position
in five career starts in Cleveland, including a victory in 1996. He finished
second in 1997 and '99, and claimed his first career FedEx Championship
Series pole position in 1995. He also finished sixth in 1998 and has led a
race-high number of laps in three of his five career appearances at
Cleveland, including 67 in 1995, 34 in '96 and 49 in '97. He also led nine
laps last year.
* Michael Andretti has recorded five podium finishes in 14 career
starts at Cleveland, topped by a victory in 1991. The other podium results
include second in 1986, '92 and '98 and thirds in '84 and '99. He has led
laps in six of 14 starts, topped by 34 en route to his 1991 victory.
Andretti also won the pole in 1989 and has started among the top three
drivers on six occasions.
* Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) turned in a dominant performance
during his FedEx Championship Series debut at Cleveland last year, winning
from the pole position while leading a race-high 76 of 90 laps. His victory
from the pole position was one of three he recorded en route to the 1999
FedEx Championship Series championship.
* Bryan Herta (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard),
substituting for the injured Tony Kanaan, owns four top-six finishes in six
career starts at Burke Lakefront Airport, including podium results of second
in 1995 and third in '97. He also finished fifth in '96 and sixth last year.
* Honda-powered drivers have won the past 16 FedEx Championship Series
events contested on temporary street circuits, dating to the start of the
1998 season. Honda-powered drivers have also won three of the past four
FedEx Championship Series events, with victories from Gil de Ferran at
Nazareth and Portland, and Helio Castroneves at Detroit. In addition, Honda
owns four victories in a row at Cleveland - de Ferran (1996), Alex Zanardi
(1997 and '98) and Juan Montoya (1999).
* Ford-powered drivers swept three of the top four finishing positions
at last week's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland
International Raceway. Heading the list was runner-up Roberto Moreno, who
was followed in third place by Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford
Lola) and in fourth by Michael Andretti. Ford trails defending champion
Honda by just two points, 138-136, in the battle for the CART Manufacturer's
ON THE AIR
* Qualifying for the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by
Firstar will air 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 11 a.m. ET
Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast scheduled to begin 1 p.m.
MARCONI GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR "QUOTEBOARD"
JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola), defending Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland
champion, on the enjoyment of racing at Burke Lakefront Airport: "Cleveland
was definitely one of my favorite races from last year. There's a lot of
opportunity for passing and the track's layout suits my driving well. One
of the trademarks of Team Target over the years is consistency. Our team is
making that one of our main goals for the remaining races. The Toyota-Lola
is capable of finishing and winning. We'll be back in Winner's Circle soon,
hopefully starting in Cleveland. Qualifying is an important part of the
race, but as drivers have shown in recent years, you can win at Cleveland no
matter where you start. I had a nice run of poles this season, so it would
be nice to start a new one in Cleveland."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), on his anticipation
of racing in Cleveland: "I'm really looking forward to the Cleveland race.
It's one of the favorite courses for the drivers because you can push even
harder without the usual threat of hitting the wall like on some road
courses and all street courses. We ran well here last year and finished
second despite dropping to 15th for a
pit-speed penalty. I think we will be competitive again this year, but we
want to avoid the penalty. That really cost us a victory. The fans are
great in Cleveland. You can tell they follow the sport all season long by
the type of things they say to you or their questions. I'm glad we are able
to come back this year. The Portland race put us in a strong position to go
for the championship and we plan to build on that in Cleveland. Being in
fourth place, only 14 points out of first, is good for the team. We have
been working hard this season to improve on our pit stops and overall
competitiveness. We had some DNF's at the beginning of the season that hurt
us but the previous front runners in the championship have had their share
of problems also so that helped put the Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team back
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on regaining his momentum in Cleveland: "A
racing season has its peaks and valleys and we've been going through some
tough times the last few races. It's the type of thing that tests your
resolve and your patience, but you've got to work your way through it. I
have no doubt that we're going to put everything together and return to the
success Team KOOL Green had earlier in the season. I like our chances to
start turning things around in Cleveland. I still have fond memories of
winning there in 1993, in my first season in the CART series, and I've had
some pretty good races there over the years. One thing's for sure: There's
loads of room for passing on the Burke Lake Airport track, and we're going
there with the intention of making things happen."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on the "openness" of the Burke
Lakefront Airport road course: "Cleveland is a fantastic city and home to
one of the best races on the CART circuit. There's plenty of opportunity to
overtake and it's very open so you can take different lines, which makes for
an exciting race. My statistics at this track, coupled with Marlboro Team
Penske,s recent form on road and street courses, bode well for us; however,
we need to stay focused on the task at hand and see how the weekend plays
out. I look forward to spending time with my family in Cleveland and seeing
the many friends we've made there."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on his fondness for Cleveland:
"Cleveland is a special place for me because it's the site of my first
podium finish in the U.S. while driving in Indy Lights [third in 1996]. The
track is a lot of fun, given it's wide which makes for a number of passing
areas -- especially the first turn. It's also great for the fans because
they can see most of the track from the grandstands. The track is bumpy so
it's always a challenge for the engineers to find a set-up that can handle
the demands of this circuit. Marlboro Team Penske brings a lot of momentum
into Cleveland after winning the last two races and taking the pole in
Portland. All of our hard work is starting to pay off and we just need to
keep focused on the job at hand and come out in the points again this
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), remaining optimistic in the face of
adversity: "I get the feeling that as long as we continue to hang in there
and keep working hard, Team KOOL Green is going to get some breaks. We
weren't lucky last Sunday in Portland, when contact on the first lap set us
back. But we managed to keep our composure, pick up a few points and build
some momentum for Cleveland. With only three points separating the Nos. 6
through 10 drivers in the standings, any points you can collect are big
right now. We ran into some bad luck in Cleveland last year with a throttle
problem that ended our race. But we got to the podium there the year before
(3rd place), so we do have some success in Cleveland. Being a fan of rock
music, it's always fun to go to the city that has the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame. But Team KOOL Green wants to do some rocking of its own by getting
back into the Winner's Circle at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), looking for some good
racing luck this weekend: "I can't wait to race in Cleveland. You can
really go for it. I am due for some good luck here. My airjack broke in
1997 when I was leading. I was leading again the next year and a yellow
came out but my radio didn't work and I didn't hear the team call for me to
pit immediately. The Cleveland race was one of my worst last year. I spun
on slick tires trying to get to the pits in the heavy rain. I spun again on
track and almost took Michael [Andretti, teammate] out with me. Then I spun
across from my pit and the guys had to get the quick jack to bring me into
the pit box. It was one thing after the other that day. For sure, the race
is one of the most exciting for the fans. You can see almost the entire
track from the stands. At one point last year, it didn't look like we were
going to race here this year but I'm glad it was worked out because I am
looking forward to the race this year. I think we will be competitive here
based on how we have done on road and street courses so far this season."
JIMMY VASSER (Target Toyota Lola), on "turning it up a notch" in Cleveland:
"No one is getting nervous because we all know we have the ability to win on
any track, but with just over half of the season remaining, we think it's
time to start putting together a good string of races and moving up in the
standings. We all have confidence that the Toyota-Lola can win, so it's just
a matter of time before we visit the podium again. I've grown to enjoy
racing at Burke [Lakefront Airport]. We had some bad luck in Cleveland last
year, so hopefully, I got that out of my system. This is a good time of
year to start earning valuable points and that's our goal heading into the
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on his
comfort level in Cleveland: "I'm going to feel right at home on the track in
Cleveland because we're going to be racing on the runway at Burke Lakefront
Airport. The Player's team already got some practice in this regard when we
took part in a speed showdown against a fighter plane on an airport runway
in Bagotville, Quebec
a few weeks ago. When we raced in Cleveland last year, we battled for fourth
place right to the end before finishing seventh. That was our best
performance on a road course last year, next to the podium we got for second
in Vancouver. We've been improving every year at Cleveland and I'm confident
that trend will
continue this year. We've got a good shot at the podium in Cleveland."
ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on his past
experience on the Burke Lakefront Airport runways: "Although it's going to
be my first time on the Cleveland course in the CART series, I'm familiar
with the layout from my days in [Toyota] Atlantic. That's going to help as
the Player's team prepares for the Grand Prix of Cleveland. I know it's a
track that is demanding on the drivers, both mentally and physically. The
weather is usually very hot and that takes a toll on you as well. The
physical training and mental preparation I went through in the off-season
should come in handy for this race. I'm very encouraged by the fact we've
been right in contention in the last two races, and only some bad luck
prevented us from making it into the top six twice in a row. There's no
doubt in my mind the Player's Champ car can compete with anyone and I think
the Burke Lakefront Airport track, with its many open spaces for passing,
will bring out the best in the car this weekend."
BRYAN HERTA (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard), looking forward to
his "unexpected" return to Cleveland: "I'm so glad to be going back to
Cleveland. I was down in the dumps last year when they announced we weren't
going back. And then, this year, when my full-time ride situation went
away, it looked like I wasn't coming back after all. Like I said at
Portland, these aren't the circumstances you want to get you back in a race
car [replacing injured regular Tony Kanaan]. Tony's doing really well and
will be back before too long. But in the meantime, I want to do my part to
keep the program rolling in the right direction. We had a rough weekend in
Portland, but it got better as we went along. I even turned the
fifth-fastest lap of the race by the time all was said and done. So that's
a good foundation to build on here in Cleveland. I love the track. It's
probably the funnest time we have all year because it's wide-open,
full-throttle racing. I felt very comfortable in my Hollywood/Mercedes by
race's end at Portland. So we'll start fresh on Friday and be the contender
we know deep down inside we are. Cleveland rocks!"
FAST FACTS FOR THE MARCONI GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR
WHAT: Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar Bank.
WHERE: Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, June 30-July 2.
SUPPORT EVENTS: Toyota Atlantic Championship, BF Goodrich Trans-Am
Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series.
CART SCHEDULE (All times ET): FRIDAY, JUNE 30 - Champ Car practice, 11:15
a.m.-12:45 p.m.; Atlantic practice, 1:40-2:20 p.m.; Champ Car qualifying,
3:15-4:30 p.m.; Atlantic qualifying, 5:25-5:55 p.m. SATURDAY, JULY 1 -
Atlantic practice, 9-9:40 a.m.; Champ Car practice, 10-11:15 a.m.; Atlantic
qualifying, 1-1:30 p.m.; Champ Car qualifying, 1:45-3 p.m. SUNDAY, JULY 2 -
Atlantic warm-up, 8:30-8:45 a.m.; Champ Car warm-up, 9-9:30 a.m.; Atlantic
race, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; Grid Champ Cars, 12:15 p.m.; Marconi Grand Prix of
Cleveland Presented by Firstar, 1 p.m.
BROADCAST: TV-ABC-TV (live, 1 p.m., ET) and in 208 countries worldwide.
RADIO-CART Radio Network (WKNR, 1220 AM). INTERNET - www.cart.com .
PRE-RACE PROGRAMMING: Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar
pole qualifying, 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN2; "CART 2Day," 11 a.m. ET
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Juan Montoya.
DEFENDING POLESITTER: Juan Montoya.
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.106-mile temporary road course.
RACE LENGTH: 100 laps, 210.6 miles.
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) - 1998, Jimmy Vasser, 134.385 mph
(56.417 seconds); Race - 1998, Alex Zanardi, 112.449 mph.
RACE NUMBER: Nine of 20 in the FedEx Championship Series..
FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS LEADERS: 1. Roberto Moreno, 68; 2. Gil de
Ferran, 67; 3. Paul Tracy, 59; 4. Michael Andretti, 56; 5. Jimmy Vasser, 54.
Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) claimed the second victory from the pole
of his rookie season and extended his FedEx Championship Series points lead
when he captured the 1999 Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by
Firstar at Burke Lakefront Airport. Montoya mastered tricky weather
conditions brought on by an early-race rainstorm which caused competitors to
switch from racing slicks to rain tires and then back again before the
conclusion of the 90-lap, timed event. He averaged 93.931 miles per hour and
led a race-high 76 laps en route to his fourth victory of the season,
finishing 10.604 seconds ahead of Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special
Honda Reynard). Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) was
third, 12.697 seconds off the pace. By sweeping the maximum 22 points for
winning from the pole and leading the most laps, Montoya became the first
FedEx Championship Series driver of the season to top the 100-point mark. He
exited Cleveland with a 112-87 championship lead over de Ferran, while Dario
Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), who finished 25th, was third with85.
Vital Race Statistics
Time of race: 2 hours, 1 minute, 4.277 seconds.
Average speed: 93.931 miles per hour.
Margin of victory: 10.604 seconds.
Caution flags: 2 for 20 laps.
Lap leaders: Juan Montoya, 76 laps; Gil de Ferran, 9; Roberto Moreno, 3;
Paul Tracy, 1; Michael Andretti, 1.
CLEVELAND CART RACE HISTORY
Year Race Winner Pole Winner
1982 Bobby Rahal
1983 Al Unser
1984 Danny Sullivan
1985 Al Unser Jr.
1986 Danny Sullivan
1987 Emerson Fittipaldi
1988 Mario Andretti
1989 Emerson Fittipaldi
1990 Danny Sullivan
1991 Michael Andretti
Emerson Fittipaldi 1992 Emerson
Fittipaldi Emerson Fittipaldi
1993 Paul Tracy
1994 Al Unser Jr.
Al Unser Jr.
1995 Jacques Villeneuve
Gil de Ferran
1996 Gil de Ferran
1997 Alex Zanardi
1998 Alex Zanardi
1999 Juan Montoya
Danny Sullivan 3
Emerson Fittipaldi 3
Al Unser Jr. 2
Alex Zanardi 2
Bobby Rahal 1
Al Unser 1
Mario Andretti 1
Michael Andretti 1
Paul Tracy 1
Jacques Villeneuve 1
Gil de Ferran 1
Juan Montoya 1
All-time pole positions
Mario Andretti 2
Danny Sullivan 2
Emerson Fittipaldi 2
Jimmy Vasser 2
Kevin Cogan 1
Bobby Rahal 1
Roberto Guerrero 1
Michael Andretti 1
Rick Mears 1
Paul Tracy 1
Al Unser Jr. 1
Gil de Ferran 1
Alex Zanardi 1
Juan Montoya 1
NEW FAN FEATURES ADDED TO THE MARCONI GRAND PRIX
OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR
The 19th Annual Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar has a number of exciting new features this year. The highlights for race fans include Club Seats in Turn One, the Labatt Lounge featuring live music, and Friday's traditional Free Prix Day Sponsored by Miracle Whip.
"We are very excited about this year's race, everyone has worked extremely hard to put together a venue that the racing and Cleveland communities can be proud of," said Denny Young, Vice President of IMG Motorsports.
The new Club Seats will be located directly in front of the action-packed Turn One. Amenities included are elevated aluminum seats with backrests, covered seating, closed-circuit television feed, a private concession area with an upscale menu, and access to the pit and paddock areas.
The Labatt Lounge is another inaugural feature of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar. Located just inside Marconi Gate B on the east end of the track, the Labatt Lounge will offer food and drink, live music and games. Additionally, WMMS-FM and WTAM-AM will broadcast live from the Labatt Lounge. Six different bands are scheduled to play in the Labatt Lounge at various times on Saturday and Sunday.
Sponsored by Miracle Whip, general admission to the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar is free on Friday, June 30. Similarly, on Saturday, July 1, free general admission tickets will be offered to each person who provides the label from a 32oz. jar of Miracle Whip at the gate.
"LIGHTNIN' STRIKES" ROCK & ROLL & RACING PARTY
Put on your dancing shoes as LOU CHRISTIE is coming to town. He will be giving a special performance at the Rock & Roll & Racing Party held Friday, June 30, 2000 at Burke Lakefront Airport.
The Party, an annual event presented by Cleveland Grand Prix Charities, will once again take place in the Grand Prix Club Hospitality Tent located on the site of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar. Starting with a cocktail reception at 6:00 p.m., the party rocks into full swing. There are a variety of buffets, fully-stocked open bar, live & silent auction, and dancing to the tunes of Special Blend. Some of the auction items include a six month lease on a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, limited edition leather jacket from the inaugural Las Vegas race, autographed items from some of your favorite race car drivers, Indians, Browns, and many more.
Near 8:00 p.m., we will be introducing some of the TransAm drivers including last year's champion and the pole sitter for Saturday's race. Then, at 8:45 p.m., Lou Christie will take the stage for a 60 - 75 minute concert. He will have you up and dancing in the aisles!
Proceeds from this event will benefit some of Cleveland's charities: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Western Reserve Historical Society, Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and Easter Seals Northeast Ohio.
Tickets are still available at $150 each - call Cleveland Grand Prix Charities at 216-436-3292.
THE SIMPLE GREEN 100 AND TWO SUPPORT RACES JOIN THE CART FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES IN CLEVELAND
In addition to the renowned CART FedEx Championship Series, the 19th Annual Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar will feature several other races for the weekend of June 30 - July 2.
The racing schedule will be packed with action from the Simple Green 100 featuring the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, the Barber Dodge Pro Series, and the CART Toyota Alantic Championship Series.
"We are looking forward to an action-packed weekend," commented Denny Young, Vice President of IMG Motorsports. "We welcome back the Trans-Am series as our Saturday feature and are proud to present the future stars of racing through the Atlantic and Barber Dodge series."
The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series returns to the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar after a one-year hiatus from the venue. Brian Simo and Paul Gentilozzi have established themselves as this year's championship contenders. Coming off a win at Detroit last weekend, Gentilozzi trails Simo by 21 points in the championship standings. The green flag will drop on the Simple Green 100 at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is a support series that is a part of the open-wheel racing "ladder system." Up and coming drivers use this series as a place to showcase their racing talent while working towards landing a ride in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Drivers such as Bryan Herta, Kenny Brack, and Juan Montoya are all alumni of this developmental series. The Barber Dodge Pro Series racing action begins at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Similarly, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Series also serves as a "stepping stone" series for racing's rising stars. Every driver is equipped with the same Swift 008.a chassis powered by a Toyota engine. The major variables are car set up and driver ability. CART drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, and Jimmy Vasser each landed rides in the FedEx Championship Series after competing in Atlantics. This race will start at
10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
KIDS ON TRACK TEACHES CLEVELAND YOUTH ABOUT RACING AND LIFE
Dealing with hundreds of revved-up children is not always the easiest chore, but at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar this experience is very different…something very extraordinary takes place.
Every year, dating back to 1993 when Cleveland-based International Management Group (IMG) became the promoter of the annual summer racing event, the city's youth have had the unique opportunity to experience "first hand" one of the world's most exhilarating sports - CART Champ Car racing. This exposure occurs again on Friday of race weekend during Free Prix Day Sponsored by Miracle Whip.
The IMG Motorsports program, "Kids On Track," is dedicated to making a difference for these children. This program is not just a chance for young people to actively participate in the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar; rather, this program offers valuable lessons such as responsibility, discipline and teamwork. As IMG Motorsports President Bud Stanner says, "The idea of bringing children to the track and exposing them to the camaraderie, teamwork, and discipline - that's the trademark of racing, that's a real-life model for these kids to follow."
The success of this program depends upon the many Cleveland-area corporations that participate in IMG's "Kids On Track." In 1999, Verizon Wireless, OBIE Media, Kraft Foods, IKON Office Solutions, Northeast Ohio's Shell Retailers and Stoddard Imported Cars all hosted their favorite children's charitable groups at catered race chalets. Throughout the day, several hundred kids will be given the exciting opportunity to get driver photos and autographs, interact with drivers, tour the pit and paddock areas, and take commemorative shots in victory circle.
According to Jackie Keim, the Sales Support Manager of Verizon Wireless, "Verizon is proud to be a member of the Cleveland community, proud to support non-profits such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters."
Similarly, Paul McClellan, Kraft Regional Executive explains, "Again this year, Kraft will be donating the use of the Miracle Whip Chalet to the Ronald McDonald House. Kraft is proud to be helping to make a difference."
So far in 2000, IMG's "Kids On Track" is staying on-course with its charitable mission to expose young Clevelanders to auto racing. Three area corporations have committed to participating in this year's program with more expected as the race date approaches. The major sponsors of "Kids On Track" are Kraft Brand Miracle Whip, Verizon Wireless and Shell Oil Products Company. Dee Hall, Sales Manager for the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar put it this way, "'Kids On Track' combines the childlike wonder of speed and 'cool cars' with the grown-up business of Auto Racing."
Take the pole position this year in helping the city's youth reach the winner's circle.
For any additional information on "Kids On Track," please call Karen Jones at (216) 436-3376 or Dee Hall at (216) 436-3658.
The 19th Annual Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar is scheduled for June 30-July 2. To order tickets, call 1-800-498-RACE or (216) 781-3500. Tickets can also be purchased at all Tickets.com locations, select Tops Supermarkets, and www.tickets.com. Any one interested in being a part of the race as a volunteer should contact Race Event Volunteers (REV's) at 216-781-3600 (press 6). Visit www.imgmotorsports.com for further event and ticket information.
CART FANFEST DISPLAY TO STOP IN CLEVELAND
The interactive display will be parked at the Galleria Mall, located at the corner of East Ninth Street and St. Clair in Cleveland, June 26-30. The display then moves to the Burke Lakefront Airport for the race weekend, June 30-July 2, 2000.
"We are pleased to be able to help bring the CART Fanfest to the Cleveland area. This experience gives fans the opportunity to see first-hand how incredible and fascinating the sport of Champ Car racing is," said Denny Young, Vice President of IMG Motorsports"
"The CART Fanfest is a great opportunity for fans to get one-on-one with CART. There are several interesting and involving exhibits that will help fans gain a better understanding of CART as well as the excitement and spectacular racing that is the FedEx Championship Series," said Pat Leahy, CART Senior Vice President of Marketing.
On display as a part of the CART Fanfest experience will be an authentic Champ Car, a Mercedes Benz C-43 Safety Car, and a Honda CBR 900RR super cycle. Visitors will also be able to:
· See a Champ Car wing display, the key component of the car's down force traction
· Play the "CART World Series" video game on a Sony PlayStation
· Watch racing highlights on several video monitors
· Listen to the radio transmissions of CART drivers and their crew chiefs
· Shop at the CART Licensed Product retail area
To get to the Galleria Mall, exit I-90/I-77/I-71 or Hwy 2 at East Ninth Street. Proceed to the corner of East Ninth and St. Clair. The CART Fanfest will be open during regular mall hours, 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
CHARITABLE ACTIVITY GETS REVVED UP
CGPC has recently surpassed the $1 million mark in donations to the community since its inception in 1982. Last year, $188,000 was raised for local charities. The organization has also been recognized with the 1998 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service.
This year's events include the Grand Prix Ball, McDonald's/Trane Grand Prix Parade, Rock and Roll and Racing Benefit Party, Grand Prix Club Hospitality Center, and The Bobby Rahal Grand Prix Charity Golf Tournament sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
"For 19 years, our organization has reaped benefits for local charities from the excitement surrounding the Cleveland race," said Lori Robinson, Director of Cleveland Grand Prix Charities. "It's heartwarming to know that the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and sponsors have enabled us to give over one million dollars to those in need. Our organization hopes to continue the trend of not only improving our present events, but adding new ones in order to give more local charities an opportunity to benefit from the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar."
On Thursday, June 29, the Fourth Annual Grand Prix Ball will kick-off race weekend in style. Held at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, the black-tie event will feature dinner, dancing, and a presentation of the Bobby Rahal Award of Excellence to a member of the racing community. Proceeds benefit the Western Reserve Historical Society.
The McDonald's/Trane Grand Prix Parade will be full of excitement. On Friday, June 30, one of Ohio's largest parades heads along Euclid Avenue with marching bands, floats, and giant 70' helium balloons. Prior to the parade is the Kids Party Sponsored by WB55 (WBNX-TV), a fun and educational event for children, on Public Square. Proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio.
The Rock & Roll & Racing Benefit Party on June 30, sponsored by Arthur Anderson, will be trackside at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar. Awards will be presented to a racing celebrity and a member of the local music scene. Proceeds will benefit all CGPC designated charities.
On Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2, CGPC invites everyone to attend the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar in style as a part of the Grand Prix Club. Cleveland Grand Prix Charities hosts over 650 individuals daily in the hospitality tent. Guests will enjoy food and beverage both days while watching the on-track action in shaded comfort on special closed-circuit televisions. Proceeds benefit all CGPC designated charities.
On Monday, July 10, The Bobby Rahal Grand Prix Charity Golf Tournament Sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car will take place. This first-class golf tournament, hosted by CGPC and The Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland, will be held at Canterbury Golf Club and Shaker Heights Country Club. Golfers will be able to attend golf clinics, enjoy dinner, and participate in live and silent auctions. The proceeds will benefit The Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland.
Cleveland Grand Prix Charities can be reached by calling (216) 436-3292. The 19th Annual Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar is scheduled for June 30-July 2. To order tickets, call 1-800-498-RACE or (216) 781-3500. Tickets can also be purchased at all Tickets.com locations, select Tops Supermarkets, and www.tickets.com. Any one interested in being a part of the race as a volunteer should contact Race Event Volunteers (REV's) at 216-781-3600 (press 6). Visit www.imgmotorsports.com for further event and ticket information.
MARCONI GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND TOYOTA PRE-RACE NOTES
Date: July 2, 2000
Broadcast: ABC, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Race Length: 100 laps for 210.600 miles
Track Length: 2.106-mile road course
1999 Winner: Juan Montoya
Toyota's Best Finish: 13th - Cristiano da Matta, 1999
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 9th - Robby Gordon, 1999
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 1998, Jimmy Vasser, (134.385 mph)
Race: 1998, Alex Zanardi, (112.449 mph)
Manufacturer Points: Honda - 138; Ford - 136; Toyota - 118; Mercedes - 38
What to look for at Cleveland:
TARGET TEAM HITS MARK IN CLEVELAND - With three straight victories and four consecutive pole positions there's little doubt that Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be the one to beat at Cleveland. Juan Montoya was victorious at Cleveland last year, while Alex Zanardi won in 1997 and 1998. Montoya sat on the pole a year ago, with Jimmy Vasser earning pole positions in 1996 and 1998 and Zanardi in 1997. Vasser holds the track record for qualifying, while Zanardi has the race record.
PODIUM AWAITS DA MATTA - With two fourths and a fifth to date this season, a podium finish can't be far off for second-year Champ Car pilot Cristiano da Matta. The 1998 Indy Lights champion ran much of the race in either second or third at Portland before a late-race pit stop dropped him to a fifth-place finish. In addition, he was running in the top five at Detroit before mechanical woes sidelined him.
After earning the most top-10 qualifying efforts by a Toyota driver a year ago, da Matta has qualified his Pioneer Electronics Toyota in the top-10 for each of the past two road course events (sixth at Detroit, ninth at Portland). A year ago, da Matta was running in the top five at Cleveland when he crashed. This year, It might prove to be his break-through race .
KING OF THE ROAD? - In a series that features 14 past Champ Car winners,
rookies are often overlooked, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to
look past PPI's Oriol Servia. The first-year driver currently stands third
among all drivers on road courses after three events, trailing only the two
Penske drivers with 27 points. With a third-place podium finish at Detroit,
a sixth at Long Beach and an eighth at Portland, Servia and Helio Castroneves
are the only drivers in the series to finish in the top-eight in each road
course event heading into Cleveland.
"MADE IN AMERICA" TOYOTA ENGINE LOOKS FOR CLEVELAND WIN - Toyota arrives in
Cleveland looking to put its U.S.-designed and built RV8E Champ Car engine
into the Winner's Circle for the second time this season. Before its victory
at Milwaukee, only one other U.S.-designed and built engine had ever won in
Champ Car competition.
LAPPING THE FIELD - With Juan Montoya leading the way, Toyota has led the
most (45.6 percent) race laps run in Champ Car competition this season (542
of 1,187). Montoya has led 541 of the total series laps run - 379 more than
the next closest driver with 164.
TOYOTA IN HUNT FOR MANUFACTURER'S TITLE - Heading into the ninth race of the
season, Toyota continues to stay in the hunt for its first Champ Car
Manufacturer's Championship - despite having only four cars running every
event this season (in comparison, Ford has nine, Honda six). Toyota
currently has 118 Manufacturer's Points this season, only 20 off the lead.
Toyota's previous best total was 80 in 1999. The manufacturer has scored at
least one fifth-place finish or better in every race this season.
Cristiano da Matta, #97 Pioneer Electronics/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard: "We're becoming stronger and more consistent as the season progresses. We've run in the top five in each of the past two races. I think the easiest way to tell how far we've come in the last year is that I was a little disappointed with a fifth at Portland because we ran so much of the race in second and third. Last year, we would have been celebrating a fifth-place finish."
Oriol Servia, #96 Telefonica Toyota Reynard:"I feel I'm learning a lot right now. I'm really happy that I've finished in the top-10 in every road course race. I think we have a very good car for road courses. We've been both fast and reliable. As we grow more comfortable with each other, we keep improving. And that's what we have to do - improve every week."
*Editors Note - Servia is one of only two drivers to finish every road-course lap this season
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president for motorsports:"I'm looking forward to Cleveland. It's fast, wide-open and great for passing. I think the longer straights and higher speeds favor our engine a little more than the slower tracks, so we should be in the fight. Everyone knows that Target Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the top teams in the sport, but I think that PPI, with Cristiano and Oriol, have been overlooked by some. They are showing that they can compete with anyone out there as well. Having two strong teams is really going to help us down the stretch."
TEAM RAHAL NOTES
Papis, Bräck - Tied In Points - Now In CART Title Contention; Team Rahal Ready For Ohio Advantage In Cleveland Grand Prix;
CART Head Rahal Faces New Challenges With New Job
Papis, Brack Come To Cleveland Looking Advantage: Team Rahal teammates Max Papis and Kenny Brack are seeking any advantage possible in the extremely-competitive CART FedEx Championship Series and they hope their Ohio-based operation will provide a home state karma this Sunday in the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Coming to one of the CART drivers' most popular circuits - the Burke Lakefront Airport, Papis and Brack enter the ninth race of the series tied in points (47) fr the sixth position in the current FedEx standings, just 21 points behind leader Roberto Moreno. With seven different winners in eight races, the CART tour has proven to be wide open in both the winner's column and the title chase. The personable Papis, the winner of the season opener in Homestead, Fla., jumped back into the point battle in Detroit with a second place finish on June 18. While Brack, the former IRL series champion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, vaulted up three spots in the standings last Sunday in Portland with a sixth, in only his third road race since 1996. "I think both Kenny and I are looking forward to the Cleveland race," said Papis, fifth in last year's CART final points. "I know the team, being based in nearby Columbus, is anxious to show their friends and families a good performance. And I think it's definitely possible. I've always liked that airport course and I think Kenny will have a lot of fun driving a wide circuit like that one. It's the widest track we have on the CART series."
Brack Gets Back Into The Road Mode: Shell driver Kenny Brack has returned to hs old roots and he is starting to like it. The 34-year-old Swede spent 14 years tooling his craft on road circuits including Formula 3000 and testing Formula One cars. But for the past three seasons, Brack was stuck in circles - ovals that is - on the Indy Racing League trail. Now, as a rookie (leading the first-year driver points) in the CART FedEx tour, Kenny has moved back into the road racing mode with three races under his belt so far in 2000. In those three contests, Brack has qualified fifth (Portland) and seventh twice (Long Beach, Detroit) and last week at Portland clocked the quickest lap time of the entire race. "I think I'm getting back into the road racing frame of mind," said Brack. "It has taken a little time to work with our new Shell team and my new engineer Don Halliday. But things are coming around. I'm feeling more comfortable turning left and right. I'm excited about the Cleveland race. I think we have a shot this week."
New CART President Rahal Face New Challenges: Newly CART President and CEO Bobby Rahal, principal of Team Rahal, has learned more about the inter-workings of Championship Auto Racing Teams operation. In just over a week and half, Rahal has already met with ABC-TV executives, a variety of team and series sponsors as well as conducting four press conferences. "I'm pedaling as fast as I can right now," said Rahal last weekend in Portland. "I think I'm in the fast forward stage with his job. Just trying to get up to speed with all of the aspects of the company - and there are many. Our number one goal right now is to release a 2001 CART schedule. I hope to have that in a couple of weeks if possible. I am focused on the here and now. We need to take advantages of our venues and opportunities. My biggest issue right now is building the CART FedEx series. We have 20 great events and we want to make them bigger and better. We want to increase our investments in the sport. I hope to do that in this position. We have an action sheet and we'll work through each point on that sheet." Rahal, while still in charge of Team Rahal, will not be calling the pit area for his team as in the past. He serves as CEO for the entire CART community on race day.
Papis Ready To Return To The Podium: The Detroit runner-up finish for Papis adds to his impressive run of road racing finishes in recently races. Despite his first lap finish last weekend at Portland, "Mad Max" finished 1999 with a flourish on the road races (3rd at Laguna Seca, 4th at Houston and 2nd at Australia in 1999) and scored the runner-up two weeks ago at the Motor City. The Miller Lite driver was a contender at Long Beach earlier this year by qualifying sixth and ran as high as third before a brake failure forced the Miller Lite Ford into the wall. "We haven't had the best luck on the roads this year," said Papis after his early exit at Portland. "But I think the Detroit finish shows we have the car and team to race for the lead. I expect us to be ready for Cleveland and look for the podium again."
Bräck Sets Quickest Lap At Portland: Brack, who got caught up in the first-turn incident at Portland, came back strong during the 112-lap contest to place sixth. The Shell driver closed from 16 seconds back of Michael Andretti and Cristiano da Matta to less an a second in just nine laps. In addition, Brack recorded the quickest lap of the race (60.3 seconds) during his charge. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get pass them for fourth," said Brack. "I was able to get close but I just ran out of laps at the end. I think we learned something during the race that we can use at Cleveland."
2000 TEAM RAHAL CART FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RECORD
MAX PAPIS KENNY BRÄCK
Date Site Start Finish Start Finish
3-26 Homestead (Oval) 13 1 5 18
4-16 Long Beach (Road) 6 20 7 17
4-30 Rio de Janeiro (Oval) 10 16 4 10
5-13 Motegi, Japan (Oval) 12 8 2 5
5-14 Nazareth (Oval) 16 22 6 3
6-04 Milwaukee (Oval) 9 7 16 4
6-18 Detroit (Road) 5 2 7 24
6-25 Portland (Road) 13 25 5 6
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