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DATE News (chronologically)
11/15/08
atlantic
Atlantic Championship Notebook  
DRIVERS HAVING PRODUCTIVE OFF-SEASON
The 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season ended little more than a month ago, but many 2008 Atlantic competitors have been busy in a number of different ways since the season ended.

Last week, reigning Atlantic champion Markus Niemela was joined by 2008 Atlantic teammates Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz at the world famous SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The trio of drivers participated in autograph sessions at the Cooper Tire display.

Shortly before his appearance at SEMA, Muniz teamed up with another 2008 Atlantic competitor, Simona De Silvestro to finish third overall in a six-hour endurance karting event in Monaco on October 19. Muniz and De Silvestro shared the No. 41 StargateWorlds.com-sponsored kart with French racer Gregory Breuer for Team Brightec. Forty-four karts participated in the event which was organized by the Automobile Club of Monaco.

“I had a great time racing in the six-hour Monaco Kart Cup,” said Muniz. “It was a whole new experience for me to be racing karts, and then to finish on the podium in a very strong field just made it a very memorable and amazing weekend. I was very happy to have been a part of the www.brightec.com team sponsored by www.stargateworlds.com. My teammates, Simona and Greg, drove so incredibly. I was really lucky to be a part of such a strong team.”

“I am a ‘kart-aholic,’” De Silvestro added. “I started off in karts and I cherish any chance of being able to compete at a professional level in that category. Being out in Monaco at this prestigious event was a great opportunity. Being able to run strong through all the sessions and finish on the podium made things very special. I am so glad to have shared this experience with Frankie and I hope we do it again next year. I would like to thank our team sponsor www.stargateworlds.com and also Mr. Gary Whiting for having come out all the way to see Frankie and I compete. It was a great weekend and I look forward to next year. I hope we can win it then!”

Last weekend, two ’08 Atlantic combatants were at it again as David Garza and Daniel Morad competed in the A1GP event at the Chengdu circuit in China. Garza represented Team Mexico in the “World Cup of Motorsport” event, while Canadian Morad was in the Team Lebanon entry.

Each A1GP race weekend features a “sprint” race and a “feature” race. Morad finished 12th in the sprint and 13th in the feature, while Garza, who was making his first-ever A1GP appearance, finished 16th in the sprint and 15th in the feature. Both drivers are expected to compete in the next A1GP event at Sepang in Malaysia on the weekend of November 21-23. Covering the action on international television was another familiar face to Atlantic aficionados, as Canadian James Hinchcliffe is one of the pit reporters for the world feed.

This week, Americans Jonathan Bomarito and Dane Cameron were both busy testing Mazda RX-8s at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for potential runs in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex 24 At Daytona. Bomarito joined MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder drivers Jason Saini, Joel Miller and Ben Devlin in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 alongside the car’s normal co-drivers Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham.

Tremblay and Ham won the GT class in the Rolex 24 earlier this year alongside David Haskell and 2007 Atlantic champion Raphael Matos. The SpeedSource team is looking for a fourth driver to complete its driver lineup for January’s 24-hour race.

"I would like to thank everyone at Mazda and the SpeedSource racing team for giving up and coming drivers a chance,” Bomarito said. “Mazda has been instrumental in getting many drivers to the top levels of motorsport and I am honored to be a part of that. SpeedSource did an amazing job outlining and preparing us for the test and it was a lot of fun to be a part of their team for the past couple of days."

Cameron, meanwhile, shared the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 with co-drivers Doug Peterson, Dion von Moltke and Jordan Taylor. It was Cameron’s first experience on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway, which features 31-degree banking.

“It’s a pretty impressive place,” Cameron said. “You don’t really get a respect for how steep the banking is here until you get your first run on it. It’s a pretty cool place.”

US RACETRONICS STAYING BUSY

One of the most active Atlantic Championship teams since the 2008 campaign ended has been US RaceTronics. Since the season ended at Road Atlanta last month, the Buttonwillow, Calif.-based team has taken full advantage of its proximity to Buttonwillow Raceway, as drivers Juan Camilo Acosta, Sergio Pena and Juan Carlos Sistos have all tested USRT machinery at the facility.

The team has also been busy off the track, as USRT had a pair of vehicles in Las Vegas for the all-important SEMA Show week. One of the team’s race cars -- which featured Skerlong’s 2008 No. 14 King Taco livery on one side and Muniz’s No. 41 livery from this season on the other – was prominently displayed in the Cooper Tire display at the SEMA Show in the Las Vegas Convention Center. A second USRT Atlantic car was displayed in the Eric’s Auto Body Shop at the NACE (International Autobody Congress & Exposition) expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. NACE is the world’s largest collision repair event and typically draws in excess of 25,000 industry professionals from all over the world.

The team used both events as opportunities to renew relationships with existing sponsors and forge new relationships with prospective new sponsors. Among the team sponsors at the two shows were Mechanix, Meguiar’s and Eric’s Auto Body Shop, with associated sponsors like Auto-Air Colors, Soft-Sanders, Ultra Wiz, Quickcut Sanders, Sharpe and Anest Iwata also on location. Meguiar’s and Mechanix have been USRT sponsors for two years, which Eric’s Auto Body and the associate sponsors joined the team this year.

“This was an amazing week,” said USRT owner Shane Seneviratne. “I would like to thank all of our sponsors for their support of our drivers and the team for giving us the opportunity to represent all the sponsors at SEMA and NACE. I had a wonderful experience and I look forward to an opportunity to participate next year.”

The team is planning yet another Buttonwillow test next week.

NWR TAKES ITS SHOW (CAR) ON THE ROAD
Newman Wachs Racing is another 2008 Atlantic team that has been active on the show car circuit with several stops over the past few weeks and a few more on the horizon in support of its sponsor, Entergy. The No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy show car and its driver, De Silvestro, visited the Society of Women Engineers national conference last week in Baltimore.

Earlier this week, the NWR race car was on display at Entergy headquarters in Jackson, Miss. and nearby Wingfield High School before heading west for a display at the Society of Hispanic Professionals in Engineering in Phoenix this weekend, again with De Silvestro in tow. The team is also planning to have a strong presence, including the No. 34 machine, at the Nuclear Energy Institute holiday reception for Congress in Washington, D.C. on December 2.

“The objective of our partnership with Entergy Nuclear and NEI is to aid overall public awareness and to form public policy to promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy,” said Newman Wachs Racing owner Eddie Wachs. “It’s a long road, so what better way to start than at the race track?”

BRIEFLY
Atlantic show cars will also be prevalent in two upcoming auto shows on the west coast over the next few weeks. The Mazda display at the Los Angeles Auto Show will feature a US RaceTronics machine, while Mazda’s display at the San Francisco International Auto Show will feature the official Atlantic Championship show car. The LA Auto Show runs from November 21-30 while the San Francisco show is slated for November 22-29… Other Atlantic teams that have either tested already or plan to test prior to the end of November include Mathiasen Motorsports, Condor Motorsports and the 2008 championship-winning Brooks Associates Racing team. The Mathiasen team tested at Putnam Park near Indianapolis on October 29-30, while Condor was scheduled to test at Buttonwillow yesterday and again on November 19-20. Brooks Associates Racing is scheduled to test at California’s Thunderhill Raceway Park on November 24-25.
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