INDIANAPOLIS (April 6,
2005) – The next generation of up-and-coming open-wheel racing
stars will be unveiled this week as the 32nd season of the
Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama hits the
streets to kick off its 2005 schedule at the annual Toyota Grand
Prix of Long Beach.
The Atlantic grid will feature an infusion of new, talented
young racers competing in North America’s top open-wheel
development series this season alongside several series veterans
and an expanded class of aggressive C2 category competitors. The
new crop of talent will be on display this weekend as the 240 HP
Atlantic machines attack the fabled 1.968-mile circuit on the
streets of Long Beach in the first of 12 rounds in this season’s
This Sunday’s 32-lap race (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED
Channel - Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. ET) marks the 22nd Toyota
Atlantic event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and it
offers the first glimpse of what should be a very competitive
championship pursuit in 2005.
While no Atlantic series champions will be in the field Sunday,
there will be a titleholder anxious to see the first green flag
of the season. Germany’s Andreas Wirth (#8 KBE/Profine/FensterWurges
Windows & Doors) joins the Toyota Atlantic series with Brooks
Associates Racing in ’05 and he’ll make his first start at Long
Beach this weekend. The 20-year-old Wirth was a model of
consistency last season winning the inaugural Formula BMW USA
championship with 11 podium finishes in 14 races as a rookie. He
hopes to tap into that first-year magic again this season for
the Brooks squad.
Wirth’s rookie teammate on the BAR team, Brazilian Fernando Rees
(#10 Bahia/Natal/Santa Catarina), could also make some waves in
his first series and Long Beach start. A 20-year-old native of
Sao Paulo, Rees brings his European road racing skills to the
Atlantic series this year and he’s proven to be very quick in
pre-season testing. He posted the two fastest unofficial laps
last week during a test of top series competitors at Arizona’s
While the Brooks team will be strong this season, the third-year
Polestar Racing Group squad also brings a tough duo to Long
Beach to start the year. After gaining a reputation as one of
the top female racers in Europe, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV
Racing) begins her first full season racing in the United States
this weekend. The 24-year-old Northampton native has only tested
for a few days with Polestar but she’s proven to be a quick
learner and she’s eager to develop and refine her skills in the
Canadian driver Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) also
enters the year as one of the top contenders in a promising
field of first-year Atlantic drivers. Bessette, a quiet but
determined 23-year-old who hails from St. Bruno, Quebec, joins
Legge on the Polestar team this season and after finishing third
in the North American Formula Renault series in ’04, he looks
ready to compete for the Atlantic crown.
After a rookie season that saw him earn two top-five finishes in
only six starts, Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK/TMI/Redline
Oil) returns with a full-season entry in 2005 as he joins Dan
Cobb Racing/Team Tonis. A pair of off-season Champ Car tests
helped to further polish the technique of the Estonian-born
driver. Kasemets is one of only six drivers in the current field
who has started an Atlantic race on the tough Long Beach course
but he hopes his race day turns out better this season after
retiring early last year due to contact.
Established sports car racer Chris Dyson (#16 Thetford/Norcold)
returns to the Atlantic series this year after making his debut
with a pair of starts in ’04. The 2003 LMP675 champion in the
American Le Mans Series will make his first Atlantic street
course start Sunday for Thetford/Norcold Dyson Racing.
McAtee Motorsports joins the Toyota Atlantic Championship as a
new team in ‘05 and the two-car squad will make its debut this
weekend. Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com/Pauline's
Antiques/Toyota of Huntington Beach/T. Christy) is a skilled,
young road racer who could emerge as one of the top series
rookies this season and he’ll pair with Brian McAtee (#19
Superior Warranty/Fleet Auto Sales), who will also make his
first Long Beach start on Sunday.
Veteran driver Dan Selznick (#49 The Room Store) finished 15th
in his Long Beach Atlantic debut last year. He hopes to improve
on that finish as he enters his sophomore season in the series.
Newcomer Ben Johnston (#96 Win Fuel/TrimSpa/Media Brokers
International) begins his Toyota Atlantic career this week as he
prepares to take the green flag for Blackforest Motorsports
Group at Long Beach.
Seasoned Atlantic team Condor Motorsports returns to the series
in 2005 and the squad will have experienced European racer
Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) behind the wheel on
Sunday for the season opener.
Series officials have expanded the C2 category this season to
give competitors with existing Atlantic equipment an affordable
opportunity to race in Champ Car’s top development series. The
2005 C2 lineup should be very competitive and a total of eight
entries will make a strong class debut at Long Beach.
Owner/driver Dan Cobb (#9 Camelot Construction) will field a
full-season C2 entry and he’ll look to come out of the gates
quickly this weekend. Two-time Toyota Atlantic race winner Rocky
Moran Jr. (#5 P-1 Racing) returns to the track in a C2 entry
with longtime series competitor P-1 Racing.
Last season’s C2 championship team, Binder Racing, is back to
defend its title. Local driver Justin Sofio (#15 Bare
Elegance/Valley Ball) of Arleta, California was the top C2
finisher at Long Beach in ’04 and he hopes to repeat the feat at
his hometown race Sunday. Another former C2 champ, veteran Bob
Siska (#18 RJS Motorsports), will also compete this weekend.
With five previous Long Beach starts under his belt, the 1999
Atlantic C2 champ is the most experienced driver in the field.
Mark Ishikakawa (#71 Bay TSP) of Ishikawa Racing will compete in
the majority of Atlantic races this season and the Los Gatos,
California native will make his series debut at Long Beach.
After making his first series start last season at Long Beach,
Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools) returns to compete
in C2 as he joins Blackforest Motorsports.
Experienced SCCA racer Lee Atkins (#48 Advanced Medical, Inc.)
will lead Atkins Racing into its first taste of Toyota Atlantic
competition with a C2 start this weekend and the US RaceTronics
team will also make its series debut racing with Roby Feazell
(#32 US RaceTronics).
This weekend’s racing on the streets of Long Beach will feature
Toyota Atlantic machines that are all Swift chassis powered by
240-horsepower Toyota 4A-GE engines capable of speeds in excess
of 165 mph. All cars will ride on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks.
The event schedule calls for the Toyota engines to roar to life
for the first time on Friday morning with practice from 9:30-10
a.m. PT. First-round qualifying is set for 1:15-1:45 p.m. Friday
afternoon. On Saturday, the Atlantics will run a 30-minute
practice from 9-9:30 a.m., followed by the final round of
qualifying from 1:15-1:45 p.m. On race day, warm-up is scheduled
for 8-8:15 a.m. Sunday morning and Round 1 of the 2005
championship – the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Toyota
Atlantic race – will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m. PT. The
race is scheduled for 32 laps (62.976 miles) or 50 minutes.
SPEED Channel will provide tape-delayed television coverage of
the Long Beach Atlantic race at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 16.
The race will also air to U.S. service men and women in 77
countries around the world through the American Forces Radio &
Television Service. For additional information, and to follow
all on-track sessions as they happen though the live timing and
scoring link, visit the series’ official web site,
TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY YOKOHAMA
TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
WHAT: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
WHERE: Streets of Long Beach
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, April 8-10
TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, APRIL 8 –
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., Practice; 1:15 – 1:45 p.m., First-Round
Qualifying. SATURDAY, APRIL 9 – 9:00 – 9:30 a.m., Practice; 1:15
– 1:45 p.m., Final Qualifying. SUNDAY, SUNDAY APRIL 10 – 8:00 –
8:15 a.m., Warm-up; 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Atlantic Race.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: SATURDAY, APRIL 16 – SPEED Channel,
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Toyota Atlantic Race, 2 p.m. ET
2003 CHAMPION: Ryan Dalziel
2003 POLESITTER: Ryan Dalziel
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968-mile temporary street circuit
RACE LENGTH: 32 laps (62.976 miles) or 50 minutes
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) – 2003, A.J. Allmendinger,
92.895 mph (1:16.267). Race – (one lap) 2003, A.J. Allmendinger,
91.991 mph (1:17.016); (32 laps) 2000, Buddy Rice, 82.619 mph
RACE ROUND: 1 of 12 in the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship
Presented by Yokohama.
NEXT EVENT: The Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, May 20-22 in
INSTANT REPLAY: Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel and the Sierra
Sierra Enterprises team dominated the Toyota Atlantic
season-opening race on the streets of Long Beach last season.
Dalziel, the 2003 series runner-up, started the season strong by
winning the pole position, leading every single lap of the race
and posting the fastest race lap. The Scot had to hold off his
hard-charging rookie Sierra Sierra teammate Andrew Ranger for
the win as the Canadian teenager finished second, just 2.009
seconds behind Dalziel. It marked the first 1-2 finish for the
Sierra Sierra team. American Bryan Sellers finished third for
his first Atlantic podium result. The race was slowed by four
caution flags that forced 14 laps to be run under the yellow.
The incidents prompted race officials to end the race one lap
earlier than its scheduled full 32-lap distance, due to time
limitations. The victory enabled Dalziel, who would go on to
finish second in the series championship to Jon Fogarty, to
seize the Atlantic points lead for the first time in his career.
VITAL RACE STATISTICS:
Time of Race: 50:20.986
Average Speed: 72.701 mph
Margin of Victory: 2.009 seconds
Caution Flags: 4 for 14 laps
Lap Leaders: Ryan Dalziel, 1-31.
LONG BEACH RACE HISTORY (21 events, 1978-82; 1989-present)
Year Race winner Pole winner
1978 Howdy Holmes Bobby Rahal
1979 Tom Gloy Kevin Cogan
1980 Tom Gloy Tom Gloy
1981 Geoff Brabham Geoff Brabham
1982 Geoff Brabham Willy T. Ribbs
1989 Hiro Matsushita Scott Goodyear
1990 Mark Dismore Mark Dismore
1991 Jimmy Vasser Jimmy Vasser
1992 Mark Dismore Chris Smith
1993 Claude Bourbonnais *Jacques Villeneuve
1994 Richie Hearn Greg Ray
1995 David Empringham Richie Hearn
1996 Case Montgomery Case Montgomery
1997 Alex Tagliani Case Montgomery
1998 Memo Gidley Buddy Rice
1999 Alex Tagliani Kenny Wilden
2000 Buddy Rice Dan Wheldon
2001 David Rutledge David Rutledge
2002 Michael Valiante Joey Hand
2003 A.J. Allmendinger A.J. Allmendinger
2004 Ryan Dalziel Ryan Dalziel
Multiple Race Winners Tom Gloy (1979-80)
Geoff Brabham (1981-82)
Mark Dismore (1990, 1992)
Alex Tagliani (1997, 1999)
Multiple Polesitter Case Montgomery (1996-97)
* Son of Gilles Villeneuve.
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