Less than 25 days before the green flag falls for the opening round of the IZOD IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg, Fla., IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt (ABOVE) announced that he has acquired all assets of the FAZZT Racing Team which competes in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Canadian veteran Alex Tagliani.
In addition to cars and equipment, Sam Schmidt Motorsports will retain FAZZT employees for continuity into the 2011 season. SSM will enter the No. 77 Dallara-Honda car for Tagliani with full sponsor support from Bowers & Wilkins in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.
“This is a fantastic time for me, my family and everyone at Sam Schmidt Motorsports,” said Schmidt. “Though we competed in the IndyCar Series in 2001 and 2002, I can now admit we were naive in our understanding of what it took to be successful at the top level of open-wheel racing in the United States. Ten years later, I have a much better understanding of what it takes to go IndyCar racing.”
Schmidt stressed that acquiring the FAZZT assets and an additional IZOD IndyCar Series program will not detract from his team's existing plans for 2011.
“We have worked hard to accomplish what we have in the Firestone Indy Lights Series and, most importantly, we have built a team around a group of great individuals,” Schmidt said. “That, combined with the excellent talent base at FAZZT Racing, should create a powerful combination. This in no way will interrupt our plans to compete strongly for the Indy Lights championship, and we all look forward to the challenge of being equally as competitive in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”
Schmidt said he will have additional announcements regarding the 2011 season in the next few weeks, including detailed plans for his team's effort at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
FAZZT fielded a car for Canadian veteran Tagliani in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. In 17 starts, the team had five top-10 finishes and led 67 laps.
“Our support for Alex [Tagliani] will transition with him to Sam Schmidt Motorsports,” said Joe Atkins, chairman of Bowers & Wilkins. “We are excited about this new relationship and look forward to supporting Sam and the team in any way we can.”
This year is SSM's 10th anniversary of fielding a car in the Indianapolis 500. SSM was formed in 2001 after Schmidt's own driving career ended in 2000 after testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. In addition to entering cars in the Indianapolis 500, SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights, which is the leading support division to the IZOD IndyCar Series. Driver J.K. Vernay's championship in 2010 was the team's fourth Firestone Indy Lights championship. Schmidt has visited Victory Lane 37 times as a car owner in the series.