2009 Atlantic season coming together

During a productive and well-attended owners meeting at Media Brokers International headquarters in Atlanta, several key components of the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda were discussed and finalized.

The meeting was attended in person by Thomas Knapp of Genoa Racing; Eddie Wachs, Brian Halahan and Roger Soeldner of Newman Wachs Racing; US RaceTronics owner Shane Seneviratne, Jensen MotorSport owner Eric Jensen, Condor Motorsports owner Carlos Bobeda, Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker, Alain Clarinval of Mathiasen Motorsports and Paladin Motorsports owner Reza Honarvar. Also in attendance were John Doonan from Mazda; David Bowes, Élan Technologies CEO representing Élan and IMSA, and Atlantic Championship President Ben Johnston, Executive Vice President Vicki O’Connor and Vice President of Operations John Brunner.

Joining the meeting via teleconference were Brooks Associates Racing owner John Brooks, Mathiasen Motorsports owners Ray and Leslie Mathiasen, Gelles Racing owner Bob Gelles, Michael Maroney on behalf of both Mathiasen Motorsports and Genoa Racing, and Chris Pantani

“I’ve been to many team owner’s meetings, and by far, this was the most productive and constructive meeting that I’ve participated in," said Seneviratne. “It was a very important meeting with the racing situation being what it is, that we all pull our strengths together and make one of the world’s premier series stronger and come up with a solid plan for 2009 and beyond. I think we definitely accomplished that at this meeting, and I’m looking forward to a lot of good things coming down the road."

“It went very well," Knapp added. “It was a super productive meeting. Ben was very receptive to our ideas. Everybody genuinely appreciated finally being able to sit in the same room and talk. These are people that are genuinely passionate about Atlantic racing and don’t want to see it fail."

Details on the items that were finalized follow below:

While the 2009 Atlantic Championship schedule was announced last fall, both the Hutchinson Island road circuit in Savannah, Ga. and Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. were subject to circuit homologation. While the Atlantic Championship has approved Autobahn Country Club for use, the homologation process revealed that the safety systems currently in place in Savannah are not adequate for Atlantic competition. As a result, the race in Savannah has been postponed until 2010.

With the postponement of Savannah, it was decided during the meeting that doubleheader races would be contested at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club in order to arrive at the desired 12 races for 2009. The full 2009 Atlantic schedule is as follows:

March 20 Sebring International Raceway – Sebring, Fla.
May 17 Miller Motorsports Park – Tooele, Utah
June 13 New Jersey Motorsports Park – Millville, N.J.
June 14 New Jersey Motorsports Park – Millville, N.J.
July 18 Lime Rock Park – Lakeville, Conn.
July 25 Autobahn Country Club – Joliet, Ill.
July 26 Autobahn Country Club – Joliet, Ill.
August 8 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Lexington, Ohio
August 16 Grand Prix de Trois-Rivi̬res РTrois-Rivi̬res, Quebec, Canada
August 30 Mosport International Raceway – Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
September 25 Road Atlanta – Braselton, Ga.
October 11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Monterey, Calif.

Seven of the 10 weekends will be run alongside the American Le Mans Series, including Sebring, Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio, Mosport, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Atlantic Championship will be the “headline" attraction at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Autobahn Country Club and Trois-Rivières.

“Our finalized 2009 Atlantic Championship schedule is among the finest in North America," said Atlantic Championship Executive Vice President Vicki O’Connor. “The venues we will visit are many of the most challenging and beautiful road racing circuits on the continent. We will visit markets that are important to our partners, teams and drivers on weekends that have been deemed ‘must attend’ events for road racing fans everywhere."


Providing the lifeblood of the Atlantic Championship together since 2007, both Mazda and Cooper Tire once again reaffirmed their commitment to the series in Friday’s owner’s meeting.

Mazda, which has been the Atlantic Championship engine supplier and sponsor since 2006, continues to identify Atlantic as the highest rung on its MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. The ladder also includes Star Mazda, the Skip Barber National Championship Presented by Mazda and the SCCA Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup series.

Driver Jonathan Bomarito, who finished third in the 2008 Atlantic Championship, competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona last month in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Bomarito won the ride in a shootout with other MAZDASPEED Ladder drivers, and Mazda officials committed to similar opportunities coming available in the future.

“Mazda is pleased to continue our association with the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda," said Mazda Manager of Motorsports Team Development John Doonan. “All of us at Mazda share the same spirit, excitement, and support over the Atlantic Championship that we have had since we became a series partner in 2006. In addition, the series holds a key place in the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder that we have had in place since 2007. We will continue to provide opportunities for top Atlantic drivers to grow their careers into the pinnacle of our ladder – our top two sports car programs – in American Le Mans Series LMP 2 and Grand-Am Rolex Series GT programs."

Cooper Tire, meanwhile, has been the Atlantic presenting sponsor and official tire since 2007. Cooper has been extremely active in promoting its involvement in the series for the past two seasons and will do more of the same in 2009. Over the past two seasons, the Cooper Tire interactive display has been a fixture in high-traffic fan areas at every Atlantic Championship race, and has played host to wildly popular all-driver autograph sessions.

Cooper has also been an active promoter of Atlantic through advertising, and has provided unprecedented support to the drivers and teams in the series. Cooper will continue its enthusiastic support for Atlantic again this season.

Continuing a successful relationship from 2008, Atlantic Championship officials announced that the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) has been renewed as the series’ sanctioning body for 2009. The 2008 Atlantic Championship season was the first to be sanctioned by IMSA since 1976.

“Having IMSA as our sanctioning body makes sense on a number of levels for the Atlantic Championship," said Atlantic Vice President of Operations John Brunner. “We would be hard-pressed to find a more professional or enthusiastic sanctioning body than we have in IMSA. This relationship also affords us the opportunity to race alongside the American Le Mans Series on several weekends this year, and American Le Mans Series events are clearly the best-attended and most popular road racing events in North America."

As was also the case for the 2008 Atlantic Championship, 2009 Atlantic events 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.

“IMSA is proud and pleased to sanction the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda for 2009," said Doug Robinson, Executive Director of IMSA. “The series shares a history and heritage similar to IMSA, which proudly is celebrating its 40th year of sanctioning top-level road racing in North America. We consider the Atlantic Championship a valuable member of our development ladder and anticipate continued success."

Another popular relationship for Atlantic Championship teams has also been renewed for 2009 as series officials announced that Cosworth would continue to service the 2.3-liter, four-cylinder Mazda MZR engines used by every car in the series.

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