IRL IndyCar Series veteran and former series co-champion Scott Sharp's friendship with former Kelley Racing co-owner Rick Weidinger has led to him being named advisor and consultant to Team USA in the A1 Grand Prix series that is scheduled to begin competition later this month.

Sharp, who posted a 12th-place finish in the most recent round of the 2005 IRL Championship at the Infineon Raceway last weekend, has competed in 112 IndyCar Series events, many for Kelley Racing.

"I'm happy to be able to assist the team," said Sharp, the 1996 IndyCar Series co champion. "Rick is very patriotic and wants to represent the United States in the highest manner possible. There are a number of talented teams and drivers from all over the world, and Team USA will have to work hard to fulfil expectations."

Drivers Scott Speed, Colin Fleming and Matt Jaskol tested the red, white and blue "We the People" car at the Paul Ricard test track in France last week.

"Not only is Scott a key asset to our racing team because of his record and team building experience, he's also a personal friend I know I can rely on as we prepare A1 Team USA to compete in this unprecedented international racing series," Weidinger said in a statement.

Kenn Hardley Racing's Jeff Simmons also tested the Team USA car, while Panther Racing's Tomas Scheckter has tested for his native South Africa.

Up to 25 nations will be represented in the series proposed to compete on five continents, including two events in the United States in the spring. The cars have identical specifications and engines.

The series was the idea of Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family.