Former Toyota Atlantic standout and race winner Tony Ave has revealed that he is considering a return to the category in 2009, and would be doing so with his own team.

Tony Ave Racing is currently the leading manufacturer of Trans-Am style tube frame sportscars for the SCCA based GT-1 class, as well as the recently relaunched pro Trans-Am series, but its head admits that the Atlantic Championship, now backed by Cooper Tires and powered by Mazda, is under consideration.

"Our sportscar business is strong right now - our cars have dominated in the US, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico - so fortunately we are really busy," Ave confirmed, "Now may be the perfect time to diversify our operation a bit, and Atlantic racing has always held a big interest to me. Besides, I could use that one million dollar bonus."

Ave competed on and off in the Atlantic Championship as a driver for ten years from 1993 through 2003, but only ran one full season in that time. However, he was consistently one of the drivers to beat, despite also running with some of the smallest teams. With his own operation, though, that would no longer be the case.

"We have a 25,000 square-foot facility, with all the resources at hand we could need," he admitted, "We are seriously looking to do at least a one-car team, perhaps two if the right deal could be found."

While Ave's sportscar operation could field as many as six entries in the Trans-Am series in 09, any attempt at Atlantic would see a completely separate at-track staff, although the open-wheel and sportscar divisions would share things such as the composite and fabrication departments and machine shop, which are already up and running.

"There are some economies of scale for us, but most important is that Atlantic is standing on its own, and could become a destination series, much like it was for [1974-75 Atlantic champion] Bill Brack and the like. There will still be plenty of young guns, but maybe there needs to be a few guys like me for them to measure themselves against."



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