In one form or another, there has been a professional Formula Atlantic series in North America since 1974. In 2008, the International Motor Sports Association sanctioned the Cooper Tires Present The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. The series was also part of the Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Ladder, which included the Star Mazda Championship, Skip Barber series and Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Series graduates include Michael Andretti, Geoff Brabham, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Tom Gloy, Katherine Legge, Simon Pagenaud, Bobby Rahal, Keke Rosberg, Paul Tracy, Al Unser Jr., Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Villeneuve (brother of Gilles), Jacques Villeneuve (son of Gilles) and Dan Wheldon.

This modern-day series utilizes the Swift 016.a Formula Atlantic chassis. Swift Engineering introduced this model in 2006. The cars are powered by a 2.3-liter DOHC four-cylinder Mazda Cosworth MZR engine, which produces 300-horsepower. The transmission is a Swift/Hewland sequential shift with five forward speeds and a single reverse gear. Finally, Cooper tires are mounted on 15”X10” front and 15”X14” rear wheels.

The 2008 eleven-race championship kicks off in April at Long Beach, California and ends at Road Atlanta in earl October.

  • April 20 - Long Beach Grand Prix
  • May 18 - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
  • June 29 - Circuit Mont-Tremblant
  • July 25 - Edmonton Indy
  • July 26 - Edmonton Indy
  • August 9 - Road America
  • August 10 - Road America
  • August 17 - Circuit Trois-Rivières
  • September 14 - New Jersey Motorsports Park
  • September 21 - Miller Motorsports Park
  • October 3 - Road Atlanta

The final race of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda was conducted at Road Atlanta. Drivers would compete on the twelve-turn 2.54-mile road course.

Three drivers had a mathematical chance of winning the 2008 Formula Atlantic championship – the points leader, Jonathan Bomarito, Jonathan Summerton and the driver of the No. 8 Brooks Associates Racing Swift 016.a, Markus Niemela. Bomarito dropped out of the race after only 10-laps. Summerton had contact with Dane Cameron and retired. The final laps were run under caution, allowing Niemela to cruise to the title.
Before competing full-time in the 2008 Atlantic Championship, Kevin Lacroix had successful seasons in Formula BMW USA and the Star Mazda series – he was the runner-up in both categories. Lacroix opened this year's campaign in the No. 25 Walker Racing Swift 016.a with a third place at Long Beach. In the final round, he qualified fourth. Contact between Summerton and Cameron allowed him to finish second.
Canadian James Hinchcliffe was a title contender for much of the year, but his season 'went off the rails' in round eight at Trois-Rivieres when there was contact with Kevin Lacroix. Hinchcliffe was gridded in the seventh position for the year's final race at Road Atlanta. Driving the No. 3 Forsythe / Pettit Racing Swift 016.a, he was able to drive a clean race and finish third. Hinchcliffe was fourth in the final standings.
Simona de Silvestro won the 2008 Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship opening round at Long Beach. However, since that event, she has had one retirement and only two top-five results. She put the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Swift 016.a for Newman Wachs Racing eleventh on the grid for the season finale. As de Silvestro has done many times, she moved up the race order and finished in the fourth spot.
The 1992 Formula 1 World Champion and 1993 Indy 500 winner, Nigel Mansell, had two sons competing in this year's Formula Atlantic Championship. The No. 5 Walker Racing prepared Swift 016.a was driven by Greg Mansell. Before Road Atlanta, his best result was a seventh at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Mansell would qualify eighth and lose a spot to Simona de Silvestro in the race but finish fifth.

13Markus NiemelaSwift 016.aBrooks Associates Racing35-
24Kevin LacroixSwift 016.aWalker Racing35-
37James HinchliffeSwift 016.aForsythe/Pettit Racing35-
411Simona De SilvestroSwift 016.aNewman Washs Racing35-
58Greg MansellSwift 016.aWalker Racing35-
614Davíd Garza PerezSwift 016.aForsythe/Pettit Racing35-
713Luis SchiavoSwift 016.aEurointernational35-
812Junior StrousSwift 016.aCondor Motorsports35-
910Frankie MunizSwift 016.aPacific Coast Motorsports35-
109Tom SutherlandSwift 016.aBrooks Associates Racing35-
1116Leo MansellSwift 016.aWalker Racing35-
1215Dominick MuermansSwift 016.aCondor Motorsports35-
132Dane CameronSwift 016.aGenoa Racing32-
141Jonathan SummertonSwift 016.aNewman Washs Racing33Penalty
156J. R. HildebrandSwift 016.aGenoa Racing29Contact
1617Douglas SoaresSwift 016.aCondor Motorsports26Mechanical
175Jonathan BomaritoSwift 016.aMathiasen Motorsports12Mechanical

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