MAZDASPEED DRIVER DEVELOPMENT LADDER WINNER DANE CAMERON GEARED UP FOR 2008 ATLANTIC SEASON HOME STRETCH BEGINNING THIS WEEKEND AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARKWith four top-5s and a podium in the last seven races, rising open-wheel star Dane Cameron is determined to finish the season on a high note
Rising open-wheel racing star Dane Cameron is on a roll… but, like any racing season, there is the occasional bump in the road. A prime example -- the most recent event at New Jersey Motorsports Park where he was hit by another car during the race and ultimately retired with mechanical problems. Despite the difficulties, Cameron, the 2007 Star Mazda Champion who won his 2008 Atlantic Championship ride courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, is focused forward on the final two races and determined to end the season on a high note."New Jersey ultimately didn't work out well, but like other races this season, we ran laps on par with the race leaders and had the potential to do well in the race," says the 19 year-old native of Sonoma, California. "The Genoa Racing team is a high-caliber organization full of true professionals, but we're a one-car team with a rookie driver in a series full of two-car teams with drivers who have been racing Atlantics for several years. We have the advantage of the final two races being run at tracks where Atlantic hasn't run before -- but I have experience at both from Star Mazda last year, and I also ran the 2007 Rolex Series finale in the Ganassi/Finlay Motorsports Daytona Prototype at Miller. It's still a challenge, but the Genoa team and I are up for it and focused on finishing the season with some good results that will help me firm up my plans for next year."The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder is a unique, Mazda-sponsored program reaching all the way from karting to the top-step of the open-wheel driver development ladder, the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Champions at each step (karting, Skip Barber Pro Series and the Star Mazda Championship) are provided with a one-year sponsorship to prove themselves in the next series up the ladder. With Cameron racing the #19 Genoa Racing/Mazda/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing Swift 016.a in Atlantic, the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion, Joel Miller, is occupying Cameron's vacated seat in the #20 JDC Motorsports/Mazda/K&N Air Filters Mazda in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship. And karting champion Connor De Phillippi is racing in the Skip Barber National Championship presented by Mazda.And Cameron has been proving that this unique ladder program works; after a remarkable run of three top-5 finishes in a row (at Mont-Tremblant and the Edmonton double-header), Cameron scored his first Atlantic podium at Road America, and then followed it up with another top-5 at Trois Rivierès. In the ultra-competitive Atlantic Championship, this represents a substantial accomplishment.Cameron arrives at this stage of his career via an accomplished climb up the open-wheel ladder. In addition to the 2007 Star Mazda Championship, where he was both series champion and Rookie of the Year (only the second driver in the series’ 17-year history to become champion in his first season), Cameron was the 2006 F2000 Rookie of the Year and finished second in the championship. As a Team USA Scholarship driver, he won the 2006 Palmer Audi Winter Championship in Europe. In 2005 Cameron was the SCCA Formula Jim Russell Series champion and Rookie of the Year. His karting career, beginning in 2000, was similarly successful, including the 2003 Jim Russell Karting 80cc Junior Shifter Championship and a 2004 finalist in the Red Bull Driver Search.Cameron drives for Genoa Racing, a team with a rich heritage in many forms of motorsports. Founded by successful San Francisco-based businessman Angelo Ferro in the early 1980s, the team began competing in the famed CanAm Championship, moved to the Atlantic series in 1990 and graduated to Indy Racing League competition in 1997-98 as Thomas Knapp Motorsports/Genoa Racing with driver Greg Ray, a period highlighted by Ray's front-row qualifying run for the 1998 Indianapolis 500. His participation in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda is also made possible by the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, as well as a variety of long-time personal sponsors; including the Finlay Motorsports Driver Development Program, Lynx Racing, Mockett.com, Rett.org, Nearburg Exploration, Red Line Oil and Sparco USA.The Atlantic Championship is the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America and celebrates its 35th Anniversary season in 2008. The series is noted for its long history of graduating its drivers into the top levels of motorsport throughout the world, including IndyCar champions such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, Jimmy Vasser, Greg Ray, Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon, Indy 500 winners such as Sullivan, Rahal, Villeneuve, Buddy Rice, Wheldon and Hornish, and Formula One world champions such as Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg.Atlantic on-track action at the 4.486-mile Miller Motorsports Park track in Tooele, Utah begins with a promoter test day on Thursday, September 18. Official practice begins on Friday, September 19. Atlantic Championship qualifying is scheduled for 8:55 am to 9:20 am Saturday, September 20, with the one-hour race taking the green flag at 2:30 pm Sunday, September 21.Dates and times for the television broadcast of the event have yet to be determined; check www.AtlanticChampionship.com for further information. For further information, photos or interviews with Dane Cameron, please contact Peter Frey at (818) 906-6997 or Bstorm2000@aol.com.