Having parted with Conquest Racing in the past month, Alex Tagliani has been able to confirm a swift return to the IndyCar Series, after signing up to start-up operation FAZZT Race Team.
The squad is a partnership between Azzi Racing Division, ATG and Conquest marketing partner Rubicon Sports Agency, and intends to compete full-time in the IndyCar Series from 2010, having acquired the assets of Marty Roth's eponymous team. Testing will begin over the winter under the guidance of Andre Azzi, Alexandre Dufresne and Rubicon's Jim Freudenberg, who negotiated the deal.
Azzi will act as chief executive officer and Freudenberg as chief operating officer, while FAZZT has hired Rob Edwards to manage day-to-day racing operations. The team will be headquartered in Indianapolis as well as having offices in Montreal, including its own research and development arm.
"This is a dream come true for me, and special thanks go to my friend Alexandre Dufresne and his firm, Spiegel Sohmer Inc, for helping make this all happen," Azzi admitted, "To be able to give my friend Alex Tagliani the opportunity to drive full time with the top-notch team that we are assembling makes me extremely pleased. I cannot wait for March so we can get our team launched for our first full season of IndyCar Series racing. I intend to give this team every tool necessary to fulfil my dream of winning the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series championship."
Freudenberg will oversee all commercial aspects of FAZZT, including sales, marketing, public relations, hospitality, client services, sponsorship activation and business-to-business and business-to-consumer programmes, bringing more than 20 years of motorsport experience to the team.
"Alex and I are privileged to be able to join Andre in his quest to create a top-tier team in the IndyCar Series," Freudenberg said, "The platform Andre is allowing us to create will give sponsors all the tools necessary to show a return on the investments needed to justify motorsports sponsorships. In this economic environment, that is a critical part of the process to build a team.
"The network that Jason Priestley and I have set up over the last few years will enhance the relationships that Alex and I have been working to grow over the last several months. I am also honoured to be able to continue working with Alex, who is the hardest working driver in any paddock. His passion, creativity, and understanding of sponsors' needs gives our commercial side an incredible advantage."
The team has committed long-term to Tagliani, who has more than 140 starts in CART, Champ Car and the IndyCar Series, and was named the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after scraping into the field for this year's event.
"This is a proud moment for me, and I have worked extremely hard for this," the Canadian said, "It means a lot to have someone like Andre recognise my efforts and reward me with this opportunity. I'm elated to be a part of this new team and can't wait to go racing full time in the IndyCar Series with great equipment and an incredible team of people."
Edwards, who will serve as general manager and technical director, comes to FAZZT Race Team after 16 years with Walker Racing, where he filled several positions, including track engineer, engineering manager and team manager. Edwards, who worked with Tagliani at Walker Racing, brings a great deal of knowledge and professionalism and provides the leadership that the team hopes will attract top people to join him in the new venture.
"I am excited to be offered the opportunity to help build this new team and work with my friend Alex again," he noted, "His technical knowledge of the equipment we race is an extremely important piece of the puzzle we need to be successful. To be able to start something from the ground floor with Andre, Jim and Alex was an opportunity too good for me to pass up."