Following the collapse of CART or Champ Car, America’s open-wheel ladder system – Atlantic, Star Mazda and Skip Barber National – runs primarily these days with the ALMS. All three series are sanctioned by the IMSA and it held its opening races of the year during the Sebring 12 Hours weekend in March. IMSA boss Tim Mayer said: “We license more open-wheel drivers than the IRL or any other open-wheel sanctioning body in America.”
John Edwards (above), who drives for the Newman/Wachs Racing team, won the first Atlantic championship race of ’09. Edwards drove a faultless race at Sebring following a wild first-turn crash which eliminated front-row starters Markus Neimela (last year’s champion) and Jonathan Bomarito. A thin field of 14 Swift-Mazda/Cosworth Atlantic cars was bolstered by five older Toyota-powered C2 cars.
Sebring’s Star Mazda opener was won by Britain’s Adam Christodoulo, who beat countryman Richard Kent and Conor Daly in a 28-car field. The first winner in the Skip Barber National series, which drew 23 starters, was Connor de Phillipi. On the same weekend Gabby Chaves, 15, won the Formula BMW Americas opener run at Puebla, Mexico, along with the WTCC.