The Atlantic Championship announced Wednesday that it was putting plans for its 2010 season on hold.
"Due to the downturn in the global economy and the subsequent shortage of funded drivers, the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will go on hiatus until global conditions improve," a series statement read. "The Atlantic Championship has and always will be committed to providing the best driver development series available to the world's next generation of top-tier driving talent. Unfortunately, however, this experience cannot be upheld through 2010. Series officials will continue working throughout the year to develop new ideas for the future that will add value to drivers and also lower costs associated with competing in a world-class racing series like the Atlantic Championship."
Series owner Ben Johnston added that his sense of responsibility for the category's long heritage as a primary open-wheel training ground prompted him to approve the decision rather than soldier on with a series that could not measure up to that history, but insisted that he remains committed to reviving Atlantic racing as soon as practical.
“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,” said Johnston. “As a former Atlantic racer myself, the Atlantic Championship means a great deal to me personally. I know what this series means to the drivers of the world as well as the heritage that Atlantics carries with it and I will not devalue the world-class experience that each one of our drivers is entitled to just to save face during these tough economic times.
"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 downtime in order to deliver an unparalleled racing offering when economic conditions allow.”
Series engine supplier Mazda, which has shepherded several leading Atlantic drivers toward its Grand-Am GT programs in recent months, added its support for the series' action.
“All of us at Mazda are disappointed that the Atlantic Championship will be on hiatus this year,” said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Mazda North American Operations. “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."