RLR/Andersen Racing has announced that its two-car Firestone Indy Lights team will relocate to Rahal Letterman Racing's IndyCar headquarters in Ohio, bringing the two operations closer together.
Andersen Racing is the official development team of IndyCar race-winner RLR, and its Indy Lights team worked out of RLR's shop in suburban Columbus this summer to
save travel costs. The decision has now been taken to be based there full-time in 2009, although the affiliate Star Mazda operation will continue to operate from the team's test track at Andersen RacePark in Florida.
Due to a combination of the expansion of the Lights schedule in 2009 and the team's relocation to Ohio, Dominic and Nicholas Cape will step down as RLR/Andersen's chief engineers, with veteran Walter Preston and Mike Reggio, who is being promoted from the team's Star Mazda outfit, taking over.
"Following two very successful seasons in Firestone Indy Lights, we have decided to significantly advance our programme in that series by permanently relocating it to RLR's headquarters," Dan Andersen explained, "We will have access to all areas. Our cars will be worked on in bays adjacent to RLR's IndyCar operation, and our engineers will be located within RLR's engineering department. We expect that this immersion of our operation into RLR's will provide us with the boost to our programme that is required to move us from race winners to championship winners.
"We thank the Cape brothers for establishing our Firestone Indy Lights programme in a very strong way in just two short years, and we wish them all the best as they pursue other opportunities in motorsports. We're thrilled that we were able to find someone with Walter Preston's experience to join our team for 2009."
Preston steps into the top engineering spot at RLR/Andersen Racing with 36 years of experience in the sport, including working with various open-wheel cars all the way up to IndyCar and the Indy 500.
"Walter worked with RLR on Danica Patrick's Atlantic programme several years ago," Andersen noted, "and he just concluded a season engineering for Newman Wachs
Racing on the Atlantic race car of Simona de Silvestro, winning the Long Beach round and finishing eighth in that championship."
Preston enjoys working with young drivers, which should make him a perfect fit with Andersen Racing, which has become one of the most respected and accomplished junior formula teams in North America.
"This year we accomplished a lot with Simona," he said, "I also enjoyed working with Carl Skerlong in Atlantics and Brian Cunningham in Lights, and helping to get Jeret Schroeder into the Indy 500 in his rookie season in 1999."
Keen also to promote from within, however, Andersen is especially pleased that Reggio will move up to the team's Indy Lights programme, having been director of engineering in the Star Mazda outfit.
"Mike oversaw our Star Mazda and F2000 programmes this year, with those two teams winning 17 races in all," Andersen pointed out, "He has been with Andersen Racing for the past three seasons, and will continue to provide some oversight of our Mazda programme during tests and whenever else possible, while moving his main focus to Firestone Indy Lights."
Andersen Racing finished sixth in the 2008 Indy Lights entrants point standings, after fielding cars for JR Hildebrand, Andrew Prendeville and Daniel Herrington. In addition, however, the team has already won the 2008 Star Mazda championship, while two of its drivers, Peter Dempsey and Tom Gladdis, remained in contention for the drivers' title at Laguna Seca this past weekend. Andersen Racing also won the team and driver titles in this year's F2000 Championship with Anders Krohn.