Sigma Autosport hits the ground running
Pictures from first test of new Champ car
By Mark Cipolloni

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The team unloads the Lola for their first test at the Route 66 track in Joliet.

Owner Tom Wieringa talks to Max Wilson All Photos Levitt/LAT USA, courtesy of Sigma

The 900 HP Ford Cosworth comes to life for the first time. 

All systems are go and Max is away. 

A few slow laps to start

Before long Max is on it hard

Max  pits for a few adjustments.

Ex-F3000 driver Max Wilson

Max checks his mirrors 

Sigma team owner Tom Wieringa and Team Manager Paul Cherry were quite happy with the first test.
Audio (8:04 min. at Fontana)

The team toasts the success of their first Champ car test.  One observer told us that the test went amazingly smooth.  100% professional....a new Team Penske in the making!

The team transporter glows in the dark

Englishman Cherry is a veteran of both F1 (12 years), F3000 (10 years) and Champ Car racing, having recently served as team coordinator for three years at Dale Coyne Racing while Dale was consumed with making the Route 66 race track a reality. Prior to that Paul worked with the Shadow and AGS Formula One teams. Paul just moved up to Managing Director and a new Race Program Director, Phil Howard, who was just hired from Della Penna Motorsports, just came on board. Paul will have overall responsibility of the race team's operation.

Paul Cherry and Tom Wieringa stand in front of their new race shop.  The building is said to be even larger than Chip Ganassi's building.  The team will start as a single car effort, but plans are in place to definitely move to a 2-car operation in 2002.  They told us they might even expend to two cars sooner, but that would require several things to fall into place.  The Brookville, Illinois based Sigma Champ Car Team  isn't just another new team destined to spend several years at the back of the grid learning the ropes. This is a well organized well financed team that aims to become a force to be reckoned with before very long. 

27-year old Max Wilson has an excellent command of the English language and articulates well to the engineers. He is a dedicated physical fitness aficionado and is considered one of the most fit Champ Car drivers that will be in the series next year.  Max was a F3000 driver where he won rookie of the year honors in 1997. He is highly regarded by the Williams F1 team where he served as their test driver for three years. Max was selected by Sigma not only because he is a very good race car driver, but because he is also a very good test driver, something that is very important to a new team. 

 Audio (8:35 min at Fontana)

The day started out overcast and gray, but by the end of the day the sun came out and Max Wilson reflects on a successful first test......

......and then smiles.  The women are going to love that smile.

The one big announcement that is yet to come is the teams sponsor.  With a nearly $11 million 2001 budget in place for the single car effort, this team has the resources to make some waves its very first year. The team plans on making some major announcement in the coming weeks.

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