POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, JUNE 8, 2004 — Chris Dyson announced plans today to supplement his primary 2004 commitment to the American Le Mans Series with a campaign in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, beginning with the June 18-20 Toyota Atlantic Championship double header at Portland International Raceway. Dyson Racing recently obtained a pair of Swift.014 chassis, and last week completed a successful two-day test at Sebring International Raceway. Dyson will contest selected events on the remainder of the Toyota Atlantic series that do not conflict with the ALMS schedule.
“My career is still developing, and at this point I want to be racing as much as possible,” said,Dyson, 26. The 2003 ALMS LMP675 champ noted that the Toyota Atlantic series has provided an important stepping stone for some of history`s great drivers, including Giles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg, and Danny Sullivan, but has also helped advance the careers of current open-wheel stars such as Sam Hornish and Buddy Rice. And today the series represents an opportunity to compete with many of the other up-and-coming North American road-racers. “Many of the drivers that I will be competing with through the course of my career are now in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and I am looking forward to further developing my driving skills by racing with them starting this month in Portland.”
Sponsorship of the Toyota Atlantic program will be an extension of Dyson Racing`s existing ALMS program with Thetford/ Norcold, it was announced by Mike Farmer, the company`s Vice President of Salesand Marketing.
“Thetford / Norcold has been very pleased with our relationship with the Dyson team, and we believe that this extension of it into some key markets with Chris Dyson in the Toyota Atlantic Championship will help us reach more of our wholesale and retail customers,” Farmer said.
Thetford / Norcold is the world`s leader in RV sanitation and care, and America`s premier manufacturer of gas absorption refrigerator/freezer units.
The Toyota Atlantic program is being run from Dyson Racing`s shop in Poughkeepsie, alongside the team`s existing ALMS program. Dyson noted that this factor, along with rule changes made by the series` organizers permitted the single-seater program to be conducted in a cost-effective fashion.
“Dyson Racing has always been a very lean organization,” Dyson noted. “But the ALMS schedule has enough breaks in it that we can add several additional events without needing much more in the way of staffing or equipment. It makes sense to us. And Vicki O`Connor and her team at the Toyota Atlantic Championship have made a number of changes to how the series is run that put an emphasis on driver skill and race-engineering, rather than on the size of a competitor`s budget. No one wins in this series because they can afford better equipment. The engines are all the same and so are the chassis. The differences come in how well you can drive and how well you can work with your engineer on chassis setup.”
Michael White, whose relationship with the team goes back to 1995, will manage the Toyota Atlantic program, while Peter Weston, Dyson Racing`s head of race engineering, will direct that aspect of the team`s new single-seater effort as well.
Encouraging Test At Sebring
Rain the first afternoon of the June 2-3 test made for a green track the second day,and made it difficult for the team to compare times with known bench marks established by other Toyota Atlantic teams in previous test sessions.
“But we are pleased with the results,” Weston said. “The car responded to the setup changes we made in the way we would have predicted. Chris put in 160 miles on Wednesday and 180 miles on Thursday. We built a very useful database for future races, and I think we are ready for Portland.”
Dyson harbors no illusions about the task facing the team when it arrives in Oregon next week. “We are keeping our expectations realistic,” he said. “There is a lot of talent in the Toyota Atlantic series, and everybody else has more time with their cars than we have. A lot more at this point, and three races under their belts this season alone. We expect to be on the steep part of the learning curve at Portland,but the best way to climb that curve is to get out there and race.”
OnTo Le Mans
But before making his Toyota Atlantic debut next week, there is the matter of the world`s most prestigious sportscar race, the 24 Hours of LeMans. Dyson will be making his debut at Le Mans as teammate to former Le Mans champion Jan Lammers in the Racing For Holland Dome-Toyota.
“I can not tell you how much it means to me to be competing in this race,” Dyson said. “It is a dream come true. And to be doing it in a car that has a realistic chance to win is just fantastic. Jan and I enjoyed driving together when he joined Dyson Racing for Sebring back in March, and I think we will have a good race here with his team this weekend.”
Scrutineering for Le Mans takes place today, with practice and qualifying sessions set for Wednesday through Thursday evenings. Friday is a day off, with the green flag for the race dropping Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm local time (10:00 am EDT.) The race will be carried live on the Speed Channel.