ZIONSVILLE, Indiana — Genoa Racing, one of the most successful teams in Indy Lights and Atlantic history, announced today that it will undertake a new challenge in 2010: the American Le Mans Series' brand-new Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class.
Actually the team is returning to its roots. It fielded top cars in the legendary Can-Am Series, the precursor to today's American Le Mans Series, some 30 years ago.
Since then Genoa Racing has enjoyed tremendous success in International Formula 3000, Atlantic, Indy Lights and IndyCar competition. In over 240 formula car starts its heritage includes a championship, 17 victories, 20 poles and a front-row starting position at the 1998 Indianapolis 500 in conjunction with Thomas Knapp Motorsports. Some of its past drivers include Ivan Capelli, Juan Manuel Fangio Jr., Thiago Medeiros, Jimmy Vasser and Greg Ray.
In 2009 Genoa Racing fielded up to three cars in Atlantic events for Frederic Vervisch, James Winslow, Jonathan Summerton, Tonis Kasemets, Greg Mansell and Robert Wickens. The team had one victory, six other podium finishes and five additional top-five finishes in 11 of the 12 events. Summerton, who ran with two different teams, was in contention for the driver championship up to the series finale, and finished second. Vervisch, who ran exclusively with Genoa Racing, finished fourth in the point standings and won the Rookie of the Year award.
But Genoa Racing's roots are in endurance sports car racing.
Indeed, Switzerland's Marzio Romano finished second in the Under 2-Liter division in the six-race Budweiser Can-Am Challenge in 1983 in a Genoa Racing Ralt RT2 Hart. Genoa Racing recorded class podium finishes in events at Lime Rock, Road America and Mosport, and class victories in a second race at Mosport and at Trois-Rivieres that year. Romano finished third overall in the latter race, sharing the podium with Jacques Villeneuve and Jim Crawford.
Genoa Racing is owned by Angelo Ferro, a businessman who is the largest producer of table olives in North America. He also owns the AngRay Fantastico flower market in San Francisco, Calif.; two car dealerships; a five-star hotel in Santa Rosa, Calif., and an automobile restoration shop. He was born in San Francisco in 1931, but spent his childhood near Genoa, Italy. He returned to California at age 20. He started Genoa Racing in 1978 and began competing in the Can-Am Series, beginning a long tradition of helping young drivers achieve their dreams.
Genoa Racing's manager and chief engineer, Thomas Knapp, managed Team Menard in 1999 when it won the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series championship.
He was also the engineer for the pole-winning car at the 2000 Indy 500.
Ferro and Knapp have a working relationship that stretches back to 1991.
Another key player in Genoa Racing's LMPC effort will be Dayton, Ohio businessman Larry Connor, who has been associated with Knapp even longer (1988).
Connor is expected to be one of the team's drivers at the two longest races on the ALMS schedule, the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring, Fla. in March, and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., in October.
Knapp said the team anticipates taking delivery of its new LMPC car at the team headquarters in Zionsville, Ind., in January, which will give it a full month to prepare for the series test in February.