British Champ Car driver, Dan Clarke has been signed to drive for Minardi Team USA in this year’s Champ Car World Series, and will race alongside Dutchman, Robert Doornbos.
Former F1 team owner, Paul Stoddart recently purchased a controlling interest in the Indianapolis-based CTE Racing – HVM Champ Car team, the team which Clarke drove for in 2006. Rebranded Minardi Team USA, the two-car Champ Car team will be one of the leading contenders in this year’s championship.
Clarke’s entry continues with expanded sponsorship from Ticketmaster and The Australian Pink Floyd Show, and will feature Clarke’s supported charity, ‘Imagine’, and will also be introducing a range of blue-chip brands to Champ Car via the Speedy Dan communications strategy.
A brand initiative has been developed during the off-season which will see a programme of sponsorship, promotions and PR activities introduced over the course of the next two to three years, capitalising on the unique personality and profile of Dan Clarke, known widely as Speedy Dan.
This season a number of new partners will join the roster of sponsors already on board, some on a race-by-race basis and others on longer-term contracts. Two sponsor partners: Mirage, Las Vegas and Canadian renewable resource company, Synapse Power, will be making their first appearance on Clarke’s #4 Minardi Team USA entry at the opening round of the Series in Las Vegas on 8 April.
Clarke had a highly successful season in his debut year of stateside open wheel racing in 2006. Clarke notched up a pole position and a third place podium spot en route to his second place in the rookie of the year standings. He also finished 12th in the overall Drivers Championship.
“Now that the deal has been finalised I can concentrate on preparing for my first race of the season in less than two weeks time, says Clarke. “As well as keeping myself race-fit, over the winter we’ve been working on an innovative partnership programme which will be unveiled through the season, and I’m delighted to welcome back to the team Ticketmaster and The Australian Pink Floyd Show.
Mirage, Las Vegas, and Synapse Power are new partners from Las Vegas, and I’m looking forward to introducing these companies to the excitement and glamour of Champ Cars.
“This is just the start of some very exciting developments with the Speedy Dan brand, and there’ll be more innovative initiatives being announced over the new few months which will heighten awareness of Team Minardi USA and the Champ Car World Series. My thanks go to Paul (Stoddart), Keith (Wiggins) and Kevin (Kalkhoven) for renewing our partnership – all I want to do now is get in that car and drive, really fast!”
Kevin Kalkhoven, Owner, Champ Car World Series, is pleased to see Clarke returning to the Champ Car grid. He said of the news, “Dan’s a great ambassador for our Series. He’s a great character, both on and off track. He’s a hard racer, who showed fire and daring at so many of the events last year. He is very dedicated and passionate about racing, which is reflected in his lively, warm personality. He’s an asset to Champ Cars and I’m sure that Minardi Team USA will reap the benefit of having Dan in the team.”
Commenting on Clarke’s signing, Paul Stoddart says, “Adding an experienced Champ Car driver to our line-up was always part of the strategy for this season, and we’re delighted to have Dan on board. He proved himself to be a feisty, committed racer last season, and although still only young and relatively inexperienced in motor racing terms, it’s clear he has the maturity, focus and determination to mix it with the best and get the job done.”
Keith Wiggins adds, “Having worked with Dan last year, I know he has the potential to be a Champ Car champion, and to have him racing with us this season is the final piece in the jigsaw. He brings all-important Champ Car experience, including knowledge of the tracks, the organization and the team. Although he missed the pre-season tests, I don’t think he will be too disadvantaged, and I expect him to be up to speed with the new car very quickly.”
‘Imagine’, the not-for-profit arm of a world renowned children’s hospital in Liverpool, England, is based in the home town of John Lennon, iconic musician and founding member of The Beatles, one of the most famous bands in pop history. The appeal is a fundraising initiative that supports pioneering work in child health, from researching medical conditions, to buying vital equipment. Its primary aim is to improve the quality of life for children worldwide.
Clarke returns to Indianapolis, USA, this week to prepare for his new season of Champ Car World Series racing. The first race weekend, in Las Vegas, in two weeks time, will be the first time that Clarke has driven the new-for-2007 Panoz DP01 Champ Car.
– Alison Hill-
28.03.2007 / MaP