Panther Racing Signs Martin Plowman to Pilot Indy Lights Car in 2009Current F3 Euro Series Driver Joins Former Indy Lights Champions for Next Season
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 17, 2008) – Former Firestone Indy Lights champion Panther Racing announced today it has reached an agreement with current Volkswagen Euro F3 Series driver Martin Plowman to pilot one of the team’s Indy Lights entries for the 2009 season.
Panther, which just completed its third season in the developmental league, collected four victories in 2008, including the prestigious Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We’re extremely proud of the success our Indy Lights program has enjoyed over the past several seasons,” team co-owner John Barnes said. “We certainly feel like Martin is a tremendous addition to our program and we’re excited to see him in a Panther car very soon. He’s a young driver with a lot of upside and the team is looking forward to helping him develop into a great open-wheel competitor.”
Plowman, from Tamworth in Staffordshire, England, is following in the footsteps of a pair of successful English drivers who have piloted Indy Lights cars for Panther. Of the team’s 13 career wins in the series, 11 have been secured by English drivers Mark Taylor (7) and Dillon Battistini (4). Taylor was also Indy Lights champion in 2003, the first season in which Panther competed in the series.
“It’s a real honour and a fantastic opportunity to join the Panther Racing team,” Plowman said. “Moving up to the Firestone Indy Lights series will be a big step for me on many levels, as I will have to face driving on an oval for the very first time. Everything will be new to me, from the car to all of the circuits and even the culture and way of life, as I will be moving to live in Indianapolis shortly. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Volkswagen for their support in Europe. I have been proud to wear the VW badge and hope I can continue the relationship in the US.”
Plowman was a key contributor to Volkswagen’s Formula 3 program, and Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Kris Nissen didn’t rule out future involvement with Plowman as his career in America nears its debut.
“I am sorry to see Martin leave us because I rate him very highly,” Nissen said. “However, I am also very excited for Martin as I know he has a great opportunity to progress his career in the United States. I will be watching carefully and if he gets the results that we all know he is capable of, I would hope that we will be working together again in the future.”
Plowman, 20, has spent the 2008 racing season in the Formula 3 Euro Series, a series that was won by current F1 star Lewis Hamilton in 2005. Plowman first took to the karting track aged eight and won the 2000 British Yamaha Open title aged 12. He went on to become the youngest ever victor of the French Open International Championship in 2003 before winning the 2004 Asia Pacific Championship. In 2006 and 2007 he raced in the Formula Renault Italia 2.0 series and the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, where he amassed four podium finishes and a pole position.
“It’s a really exciting time,” Plowman continued. “I’m looking forward to learning something new every day. After meeting the Panther Racing crew, I was really impressed by the whole team’s passion for motorsport and to succeed, so I can’t wait to be a part of that.”
Panther currently ranks second all-time in Indy Lights victories, behind rival Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In 58 career starts in the series, Panther has amassed 13 wins, seven pole positions, 29 top five and 35 top ten finishes. The team’s drivers have also led a total of 636 career laps.
Panther has a strong lineage of drivers, and Plowman hopes to continue the team’s success. Even the team’s recently-signed IndyCar Series driver, former league and Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon, had a successful stint in Indy Lights; winner of two races and league Rookie of the Year in 2001.
Panther expects to have a multi-car lineup for the 2009 Indy Lights season, and will release further details regarding the number of entries and driver lineup as they become available.