In 1986, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) launched the American Racing Series. This championship was created as a training series for those drivers that aspired to compete at the top level of open-wheel racing in North American. The inaugural season consisted of ten races which ran as a support events for the CART series. In 1991, there was a name change to Indy Lights.

In the first year, all drivers competed in a modified F3000 March 85B powered by a Buick V6 engine. By 2001, the Indy Lights spec car was a Lola T97/20. It features a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis that weighs 1,450-lbs. when fitted with the V6 engine and transmission. The series continued to use the production-based Buick V6 motor, which produces 425-horsepower. The Lola’s transmission is a five-speed Hewland.

The 2001 Firestone / Dayton Indy Lights championship consisted of twelve events. The season opened in March at Parque Fundidora in Monterrey, Mexico. Returning to the US, teams visited the temporary street circuit at Long Beach, California. The following two rounds were oval events conducted at the Texas Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile. In late June, drivers competed on the road course at Portland International Raceway, followed by the oval at Kansas Speedway. The championship headed north of the border in July for an event at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Toronto was followed by a stop at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Round nine was conducted on the oval at Gateway International Raceway. The following two races were contested on road courses at Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca. The finale was held on November 4 at California Speedway.

Round ten of the 2001 Firestone / Dayton Indy Lights season was held at Road Atlanta as a support event for the American Le Mans Series’ Petit Le Mans event. Drivers would compete for twenty-nine laps around the twelve turn 2.54-mile road course.

Rookie Dan Weldon captured his first Firestone / Dayton Indy Lights victory in the previous round at Gateway International Raceway. Weldon was gridded sixth in the No. 1 Gemstar Communications Lola T97/20 and moved up the order to claim his second victory of 2001. In addition to this win, he collected podium finishes at Long Beach, Milwaukee, Kansas, and Mid-Ohio, which placed third in the title chase.
With two races remaining after Road Atlanta, Townsend Bell was the point’s leader; however, rookies Damien Faulkner and Dan Weldon were within striking distance. To date, Bell’s season included five podium results, of which four were victories. At Road Atlanta, he earned the pole in the No. 30 DirecWay sponsored Lola T97/20, but he was no match for Dan Weldon and finished second by a margin of 0.256-seconds.
Entering round ten, Ireland’s Damien Faulkner was Townsend Bell’s primary challenger for the 2001 Firestone / Dayton Indy Lights crown. Faulkner, who had scored wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Portland International Raceway, trailed Bell by twenty-two markers. The 2000 Formula Palmer champion qualified third fastest in the No. 30 Dorricott Racing Lola and grabbed the final spot on the podium.
Finishing fourth in round ten at Road Atlanta was Mario Dominguez driving the No. 17 de Valle / Corona sponsored Lola T97/20 for PacWest Motorsports. Dominguez was having an up-and-down season with podium finishes at Milwaukee, Toronto and Gateway. But his year also included three retirements, of which two were wrecks. He was gridded seventh for the start of the twenty-nine lap contest.
The third member of the Dorricott Racing team was Jon Fogarty – the other two were Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner. Driving the No. 32 Fogarty Wine and Vineyard Lola, he finished third in the season opener. However, this initial success was followed by two wrecks and a herniated disk in his cervical vertebrae. Fogarty stepped out of the car and returned at Road Atlanta, where he finished fifth after starting second.

16Dan WheldonGemstarLola T97/20 / Buick29-
21Townsend BellDirecWayLola T97/20 / Buick29-
33Damien FaulknerDorricott RacingLola T97/20 / Buick29-
47Mario Dominguezdel Valle / CoronaLola T97/20 / Buick29-
52Jon FogartyFogarty Winery & VineyardLola T97/20 / Buick29-
68Derek HigginsStarlightDiamonds.comLola T97/20 / Buick29-
75Luis DiazTelmexLola T97/20 / Buick29-
84Matt HallidayMi-JackLola T97/20 / Buick29-
910Rolando QuintanillaTelmexLola T97/20 / Buick28-
109Cory WitherillWSA HealthcareLola T97/20 / Buick20Accident

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