American Le Mans Series regular Primetime Race Group has decided to spread its motorsport involvement into the open-wheel categories, and will join the Cooper Tires-backed Atlantic Championship with a two-car effort from round two of the series.
The programme is a joint venture between team owner Joel Feinberg, team manager Brent O'Neill and property entrepreneur Jamie Rand - whose planned entry into the series attracted much publicity during the off-season - and will field both the 2008 championship-winning #8 car and #88 sister machine previously run by Brooks Associate Racing.
“These cars are proven to be competitive and for them to not be running at a time when the grids need to be filled made our decision an easy one,” O'Neill said, “The entire Atlantic organisation - including Mazda, Cooper Tires and [series owner] Ben Johnston - have provided an unmatched opportunity to race at a competitive level, giving drivers the ability to earn big money and big exposure.”
In just four years since its entry to the IMSA family, Primetime has grown from fielding a single car in IMSA Lites, via multiple entries in IMSA Lites and SPEED World Challenge over the last three seasons, to a full scale American Le Mans Championship campaign returning for a second full season with the #11 GT2 Viper. The move to the Atlantic Championship, however, is its first foray into open-wheel racing.
“This is a move for Primetime that gives us another opportunity to expand our brand under the IMSA umbrella at a point in time when racing needs us,” Feinberg added, “With the commitment of Ben Johnston, the Atlantics have become the biggest bang for your buck and, in the times that we're in, this opportunity couldn't be passed up. The move will be beneficial to everyone involved, as it will bring more cars to the grid, more drivers to the series, and allow Primetime to continue to grow even bigger.”
Primetime will provide a full-service arrive-and-drive programme for interested drivers, including private testing, full data analysis and driver coaching, PR and marketing activity, as well the ability to co-brand potential sponsors with the team's ALMS effort. While the team's goal is to win a championship, it admits that it's 'focus will be geared towards funded drivers who are seeking a reputable team capable of fielding an ultra-competitive programme'.
“Primetime Race Group could not have acquired two better cars for its initial foray into the Atlantic Championship,” added Atlantic Championship executive vice-president Vicki O'Connor, “That #8 car was clearly a frontrunner throughout the 2008 season, and the #88 was also a top contender at many of our events last year. It would come as no surprise if the two Primetime cars were at the front right off the truck in Utah.”
The Atlantic Championship shares six of its remaining race weekends with the American Le Mans Series - at Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - giving prospective Atlantic candidates the chance to perform in front of teams from one of the bigger series in the USA.
“We are obviously thrilled to welcome Primetime Race Group to the Atlantic Championship,” Johnston commented, “Joel and Brent have earned a reputation for fielding a first-class programme in the American Le Mans Series, and this is exactly the type of team we need in Atlantic. We're looking forward to seeing the two Primetime cars on the grid next month at Miller Motorsports Park, throughout the 2009 season and, hopefully, well into the future.”