A member of the legendary Unser racing family will be a fixture in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda paddock throughout the 2008 season as series officials today announced that Johnny Unser has been named Atlantic Race Director.
The 49-year-old Unser will be responsible for calling all Champ Car Atlantic races, as well as dealing with procedural issues and judgmental officiating calls. He will work closely with Champ Car World Series Executive Vice President, Operations Tony Cotman, who also serves as the Race Director for all Champ Car events. Unser joins the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in addition to his role as Technical Advisor for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.
“We are delighted to welcome Johnny Unser as our Champ Car Atlantic Race Director and are thrilled to bring the Unser name back into our paddock once again,” said Champ Car Atlantic managing director Vicki O’Connor. “We have gotten to know Johnny closer over the past year through his association with Cooper Tires and feel strongly that he has exactly the right personality and temperament to be successful in this position. His knowledge of racing is impeccable and he will truly be an asset to our already outstanding group of race officials.”
Johnny Unser is the son of the late Jerry Unser and is the nephew of Champ Car legends Bobby Unser and two-time Champ Car World Series champion Al Unser. He is also the cousin of two-time Champ Car titlist Al Unser Jr. He brings a strong racing résumé of his own, owning five career starts in Champ Car World Series competition, five Indianapolis 500 starts, a total of 16 starts in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, and claimed Rookie of the Year honors in the 1990 American IndyCar Series on the strength of three victories, three pole positions and podium results in every race. He is also an accomplished sports car racer, with a class victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring and a second-place class result in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I have looked at the Champ Car Atlantic Championship from a distance for many years and have always appreciated how well it was run and the quality of drivers that the series has produced,” Unser said. “It is truly an honor to be asked to represent the series as Race Director, and I am looking forward to working with the very committed and professional people associated with the Champ Car organization. Working with young, aggressive drivers is something I have always enjoyed. I hope to be able to share with them some of the things I have learned over the years and help them succeed with the ups and downs of motor racing.”
Next up for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship is the first of three open test sessions to be held prior to the start of the 35th Anniversary season of Atlantic at Long Beach on April 20. The first open test of 2008 will be held at the famed Sebring International Raceway circuit in Central Florida. Atlantic cars will take to the 1.669-mile “short course” on February 5-6.
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