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Cooper and Mazda reaffirm support for Atlantic Series
The best open wheel training series in the world was not included in the IRL buyout of Champ Car, which is one of the dumbest moves series officials could have made
With the recent unification of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series, the 35th Anniversary season of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will be a watershed event in the history of North America’s longest-running open-wheel driver development series.

Series co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe have pledged to continue the popular championship, which will open its season on April 18-20 at the legendary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In light of the open-wheel unification, Atlantic Managing Director Vicki O’Connor and her staff continue to work feverishly to solidify key details on the 2008 series, such as the 12-race schedule, prize package and incentives, sanctioning body and television coverage, with announcements expected soon.

However, none of this would be possible without the continued support of series partners Mazda and the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.

Mazda joined the series as a sponsor and engine supplier in 2006 and has identified the Atlantic Championship as the top rung on its MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, which includes the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Championship Presented by Mazda and the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. As part of the program, Mazda ensures that the Star Mazda champion receives a ride in the next season’s Atlantic Championship, which will again be the case this year with Dane Cameron. Mazda has also included Atlantic in national television advertising campaigns.

“Mazda is fully committed to all rungs of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, including our top rung, the Atlantic Championship,” said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. “Mazda is working diligently with Vicki O’Connor, Cooper Tire, event promoters and tracks to produce the best possible 2008 season with an eye on 2009. Mazda is working with the best interests of our fans, teams, drivers and sponsors in mind.”

Cooper Tire was a new partner to the Atlantic Championship in 2007 and enthusiastically supported the series through programs such as an interactive traveling display at all events—which also provided the perfect backdrop for wildly successful all-driver autograph sessions at every stop—as well as television advertising. Those programs are expected to continue in 2008, with additional opportunities to activate the partnership currently being examined.

“The 2008 Atlantic Championship season will mark Cooper Tire’s second year as presenting sponsor,” said Chris Pantani, Director of UHP Marketing and Motorsports for Cooper Tire. “The Atlantic Championship has established itself as the top rung of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, and continues to produce some of the greatest talent ever to move up to the next level. Cooper Tire is proud to be a partner of a series that plays such an instrumental role in a young driver’s career, and we look forward to following those drivers on their path, which has historically included IndyCar racing, Formula 1 and even NASCAR. The level of racing excitement, the fan base and professionalism of the participants, as well as the expertise of the Atlantic Championship organization, has and continues to be an overwhelming success for all involved.”

In addition to Mazda and Cooper Tire, the Atlantic Championship continues to enjoy support from companies such as Cosworth, Inc.; Swift Engineering; BBS of America; Pi Research, USA and Haas Automation, Inc. among others.

The efforts of Mazda and Cooper Tire, as well as those of the Atlantic Championship staff and the drivers and teams in the series will be on display next week during Spring Training at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on March 10-11. Media is invited to attend Spring Training on both days.

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