ALPHARETTA, Ga. (March 10, 2010)—The organizers of the Atlantic Championship, a racing series featuring single-seat, open-wheel racers that had attracted Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. as its presenting sponsor, have canceled the 2010 season just before the season opener.
“Due to the downturn in the global economy and the subsequent shortage of funded drivers,” the organizers said, “the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will go on hiatus until global conditions improve.”
The championship was to have started March 19 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. At last count, the series had attracted only 10 entries.
This was to be the second year of the series under the ownership of Georgia businessman and part-time racer Ben Johnston.
“It is with a heavy heart and only after deep consideration that I have accepted the recommendations from the stakeholders in the series to pause efforts related to the continuation of the 2010 Atlantic Championship season,” he said.
“… I am committed to this series now as much as ever and will assure Atlantic fans that the Atlantic Championship office will be working during the down time in order to deliver an unparalleled racing offering when economic conditions allow.”
Johnston bought the series after Champ Car, the previous owner, folded and was absorbed by the Indy Racing League.
Mazda North American Operations, the engine supplier, expressed regrets, too.
“All of us at Mazda are disappointed that the Atlantic Championship will be on hiatus this year,” said Robert Davis, senior vice president at Mazda North America. “It was no doubt a very difficult decision made by the Atlantic management in conjunction with the teams. Mazda has greatly enjoyed the past four years of working with outstanding drivers, teams and partners, and we remain committed to our ongoing support of up-and-coming drivers in both open-wheel and sports-car racing.”
Cooper, which has been the Atlantic Series' tire supplier and presenting sponsor since the 2006 season, did not comment on the decision.