Gordon Kirby Tells the Story of Team Orders - The "Inside Story"

This year's Cooper Tires/Mazda Atlantic champion is John Edwards, an eighteen-year old from Cincinnati. In fact, Edwards and Newman/Wachs teammate Jonathan Summerton, 21, finished one-two in the championship, both young men winning four races. Edwards took the title because he finished second in four other races, one more than Summerton.

Standing Victorious as the Champ at Laguna !Edwards has been racing cars since he was fourteen and won last year's Star Mazda championship in his first and only year in the series. John won the Red Bull Driver Search in 2004 which took him to Europe to race karts, then Formula Renault in 2005 and '06. At 14, he was the youngest driver to hold an FIA licence. Red Bull brought Edwards back to the USA in 2007 to join Canadian teen-ager Robert Wickens in Jerry Forsythe's Atlantic team before successfully tackling Star Mazda in '08 and winning a ride, courtesy Mazda, in this year's Atlantic series.

Nick Harvey with John EdwardsKey components in this year's success were engineers Nick Harvey and Don Halliday. Harvey engineered Edwards' car with Halliday taking care of Summerton.  "It was special to have those two guys working together," Edwards says. "Don comes from such an experienced background and they're both very good at interpreting our feedback. Sometimes we feel something and we don't know quite what we're feeling but they're very good at asking the right questions and extracting the right information out of us to make the right calls on the car. Nick and Don don't just look at the computer and say this is the right thing. They understand the feel of a car and what may work for one guy doesn't necessarily work another. "That showed through the season, I think, when we struggled in New Jersey and worked to analyse what was going on. We eventually reached a conclusion, and that worked at the next race at Lime Rock and helped us throughout the year. "I think qualifying at Laguna was the magic part of the year," Edwards adds. "It really showed the development we had achieved throughout the year when Jonathan and I were within half a tenth of each other and four or five-tenths ahead of third place."

Team owner Wachs reports that going into the Laguna Seca season finale the team discussed the possibility of using team orders. "I think we had about three pages of options that we reviewed on the morning of the race," Wachs remarks. "We talked to the drivers about team orders. It wasn't a very palatable thing but we said to John, 'If we need to, we may ask you to let Jonathan by on the last lap.' If we were in a position where John could win the race, but not the championship, and Jonathan could win the championship for the team, we would ask John to give up his spot. We said we would only ask him to do it if we needed to. "Well, he didn't take that very well at all. He went and called his father and they talked for a while. John's father is a very nice guy. He's quite a well-known surgeon in Cincinnati. His dad told him that the team had done it for him and if he had to do it for the team then that's what he had to do. Luckily, we didn't have to use team orders after Simona got herself into trouble on the first lap."

John is proudly sponsored by Mazda.

GOZAPIT brought timely updates to John's Website - Thanks GOZAPIT !