IMSA to sanction ex-Champ Car Atlantic Series
A key component of the 35th anniversary season for the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda has finally fallen into place as Atlantic Championship President Vicki O’Connor and officials from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today that IMSA has agreed to sanction Atlantic Championship events for the 2008 season.
“After a lengthy period of negotiations, we are delighted to announce that IMSA will now be the sanctioning body for the Atlantic Championship,” O’Connor said. “As a road racing championship in North America, it certainly makes sense to align Atlantic with North America’s premier road racing sanctioning organization. Atlantic has some previous history with IMSA and—in our 35th anniversary season—we are excited to begin a new chapter with IMSA.”
IMSA previously sanctioned Formula Atlantic in the United States in 1976. The U.S. championship was contested in addition to the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs (CASC)-sanctioned Player’s Challenge Series north of the border, and both championships were won by Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve. Ironically, the 1976 season also featured an event at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., where IMSA is now based. Road Atlanta will also play host to the 2008 Atlantic season finale on the same weekend as the prestigious Petit Le Mans for the American Le Mans Series.
While the Atlantic Championship will continue to be owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe and will be operated by O’Connor and her staff, all races will be run under IMSA rules. The Atlantic Championship will be conducted under the IMSA Code, which establishes and oversees event, participant and safety parameters and conduct, as well as governing rules for each of its sanctioned series. The IMSA sanction takes immediate effect and will be in place for the next round of the Atlantic Championship on June 27-29 at Mont-Tremblant.
“IMSA is extremely proud to extend its sanction to the Atlantic Championship,” said IMSA Chief Operating Officer Tim Mayer. “Over the past four decades, the Atlantic Championship has produced some of the world’s greatest race car drivers including Formula One world champions, IndyCar champions and sports car champions. The series becomes part of a logical progression of championships sanctioned by IMSA including the Formula BMW Americas Championship, the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear and now the Atlantic Championship. Whether a driver’s goals lie in open wheel, stock car or sports car racing, the IMSA family of sanctioned series provides a solid foundation.
“We believe that the Atlantic Championship provides a great basis for professional drivers. The series is superbly managed; it offers a great car, engine and tire package. If proof were needed we can simply point to 2006 series champion Simon Pagenaud’s recent success in the American Le Mans Series and his great performance at Le Mans.”
Atlantic championship graduates competing in top North American series in 2008 include IndyCar stars Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal, Buddy Rice and Ryan Hunter-Reay; rising NASCAR stars Patrick Carpentier, A.J. Allmendinger and Sam Hornish Jr.; American Le Mans Series competitors Johnny O’Connell, Luis Diaz, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Figge and Tom Sutherland; as well as reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney among many others.
The Atlantic Championship is the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America and celebrates its 35th Anniversary season in 2008. The series is noted for its long history of graduating its drivers into the top levels of motorsport throughout the world, including IndyCar champions such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, Jimmy Vasser, Greg Ray, Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon, Indy 500 winners such as Sullivan, Rahal, Villeneuve, Buddy Rice, Wheldon and Hornish, and Formula One world champions such as Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg. In 2008, Atlantic graduates will battle for race victories and championships in top North American series such as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in addition to various other series all over the world. Learn more about Atlantic at www.atlantic-championship.com.
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) is the premier sanctioning body for road racing in North America. Since its establishment in 1969, IMSA has conducted hundreds of auto races on a variety of permanent and temporary racing circuits in the United States and Canada. Exclusively in the auto racing business, IMSA organizes and officiates professional road racing competitions. IMSA is one of the eight member clubs of the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States (ACCUS), which is the FIA sporting association for the United States. As such, IMSA is one of just a few organizations in the U.S. authorized to stage competitions based in the International Sporting Code.
Currently IMSA sanctions several professional auto racing series including the American Le Mans Series, the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, IMSA Challenge by Michelin, Formula BMW Americas and IMSA Lites presented by Hankook. Each series provides a unique form of auto racing action through varying levels of driver and manufacturer competition.
Each year, IMSA awards millions of dollars in prize money, bonus awards and series point funds to the various winners. The headquarters office for IMSA is located in Braselton, GA.