The IndyCar Series' newest entrant, the FAZZT Race Team, is launched today, with Alex Tagliani confirmed as the squad's driver for the next four years, with an option on a fifth.
Rob Edwards, formerly of Walker Racing, will be team manager, Andre Azzi is chief executive officer and Jim Freudenberg of the Rubicon Sports Agency is chief operating officer. The squad's formation cornerstone was the purchase of Roth Racing's assets by Azzi with the help of Alexandre Dufresne, owner of Spiegel Sohmer Inc.
Tagliani, who this year raced on a part-time basis with Conquest Racing, and won the Rookie of the Year award at the Indy 500, is expecting to be competitive right away. Speaking exclusively to Racer.com, the Canadian said: “I am so happy right now. This is the best present anyone has given me for many, many years. I don't want to sound too cocky, but I have no doubts that we're going to be up to speed very quickly. We're going to be giving the big teams trouble, right from the start of next year. I mean that.”
The Canadian, who is pulling double duty at Montreal this weekend in the NASCAR's Nationwide Series and Canadian Tire Series, went on: “The FAZZT race shop is in Indianapolis, but there will also be an R&D facility in Montreal. We have this great simulator that is currently available only in the UK, we have four racecars plus a show car, and we'll be working hard on the seven-post rig like you wouldn't believe. It's such an incredible opportunity.”
Azzi declared: “This is a dream come true for me. To be able to give my friend Alex the opportunity to drive full time with the top notch team that we are assembling makes me extremely pleased. I intend to give this team every tool necessary to fulfill my dreams of winning the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series championship.”
Edwards, who fulfilled roles of chief engineer and team manager in his 16 years at Walker Racing, said: “I'm excited to be offered the opportunity to help build this new team and work with Alex again. His technical knowledge of the equipment we race is an extremely important piece of the puzzle we need to be successful. To be able to start something from the ground floor with Andre, Jim and Alex was an opportunity too good for me to pass up.”
Tagliani, who worked with Edwards when he drove for Walker in 2005-'06 (under Derrick Walker's Team Australia banner), added: “Full power has been given to Rob. There are no restrictions whatsoever for him to pull together the best possible team – project manager, track engineer, whatever. The great thing is, Rob has got so many technical capabilities himself that he knows what he wants when he interviews people, and so he knows what to look for from them. He won't be fooled. He'll go for the best.
“I've had some rough times in my career when it felt like I was doing a lot of things that drivers don't normally have to do. It got crazy many, many times – so much pressure. And you know what the thing is that gave me most peace with FAZZT? Andre told me: ‘Alex, from now on, you're going to be driving – and everything that goes with that, of course – and training. Jim and I will handle all the rest.' It feels like at last I am getting into a situation that I haven't been in for so long.”
Freudenberg, who will oversee all commercial aspects of the team, including sales, marketing, public relations , and sponsorship activation, said: “The platform Andre is allowing us to create will give sponsors all the tools necessary to show a return on their investments. The network that Jason Priestley [co-owner of Rubicon] and I have set up over the last few years will enhance the relationships that Alex and I have been working to grow over the last several months.
“I am also honored to be able to continue working with Alex who is the hardest working driver in any paddock. His passion creativity and understanding of sponsors' needs gives our commercial side an incredible advantage.”
Concluded Tagliani: “After this weekend, I'm looking forward to concentrating completely on FAZZT. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I can't wait to prove that this wasn't just a dream. Rob wants us to go testing, probably as soon as October. I tell you, that is just fine with me.”