The future of the Formula Atlantic category has been assured following an outstanding 35th anniversary season with the confirmation that Atlanta-based businessman Ben Johnston had purchased Atlantic Racing Series LLC from Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but the announcement followed speculation that Johnston, a one-off Atlantic racer, was trying to buy both the series and the remaining Panoz Champ Cars to set up his own separate championship. The 53-year old also owns Media Brokers Inc, which specializes in media planning and buying, and is a long-time road racing enthusiast with eight regional SCCA Atlantic titles to his name.
“It is very exciting to play a part in the future of such a historic racing series,” Johnston said, “The Atlantic staff and teams are the best racing has to offer and we are honoured to have the continued sponsorship of Cooper Tires and Mazda.”
The Atlantic series will continue to operate out of its Brownsburg headquarters under the leadership of Vicki O'Connor, who has helmed the championship since 1985, and is now involved in planning a 10-12-race schedule for 2009. An official calendar announcement is expected shortly, as is an announcement regarding television coverage for next season.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Ben has stepped forward to ensure the Atlantic series' position as the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America will continue well into the future under his ownership,” O'Connor admitted, "At the same time, however, I must thank Kevin Kalkhoven and Jerry Forsythe for their outstanding support and ownership of the series over the past several years, and for ensuring the series' operation in 2008.”
Series partners Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Mazda North American Operations applauded the sale to Johnston, having completed their second and third seasons of involvement as official suppliers respectively.