Two-time NHRA Sport Compact HOT ROD champion Marty Ladwig has been selected by GM Racing to be the new driver of its 2005 Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt Pro FWD entry. Ladwig will replace back-to-back Pro FWD series champion Nelson Hoyos who will continue to compete under the Chevy red bowtie banner with his own Driven2Win Pro FWD and Pro RWD Cobalt Racing teams. GM Racing will support several teams with varying levels of support this year (including Hoyos' new program) with the goal of making GM products the hardware of choice among sport-compact drag racers.
"Drag racing is all about going quicker and faster," said Ladwig. "The opportunity to continue with GM Racing as the driver of its Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt is a dream come true for me, and stepping up to the Pro FWD category should be a lot of fun. The GM Racing team has done a tremendous amount of work in the offseason to create more horsepower, but the aerodynamic improvements inherent in the design of the new Chevy Cobalt will most certainly mean another record-breaking year in our sport. It should be a very, very exciting season for the fans of sport compact drag racing."
Ladwig's on-track success during the last two seasons, his congenial, affable approach to the fans and media, and his familiarity with the GM Racing program made the '03-'04 NHRA HOT ROD champ the obvious choice to climb into the Pro FWD Chevy Cobalt. Last year, the San Antonio, Tex., resident rewrote the NHRA Sport Compact record book capturing five national-event victories and competing in eight final rounds to claim his second consecutive HOT ROD title. Ladwig's nine career victories are the most by any driver in the HOT ROD class, and he was also the first person in the hotly contested category to run in the sevens with a lap of 7.973 seconds on August 22, 2004, at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.
"We're proud to have Marty returning to the GM Racing program in 2005," said Carmen Smith, GM program manager for sport compact drag racing. "Not only is Marty a terrific driver, but he also works well with the fans and the media. Marty has proven over time that he is the right person for our program."
Defending Pro FWD champion Nelson Hoyos' schedule will get a little busier this season. In addition to trying to defend his 2004 NHRA Pro FWD title, Hoyos will add proprietary responsibilities to his docket as the owner of his new Driven2Win Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt Pro FWD entry as well as the Driven2Win Pro RWD Cobalt which will be piloted by Lisa Kubo. Hoyos' new two-car team will receive factory and technical support from GM.
"We are very excited about supporting Nelson with his new team," said Smith. "What Nelson is doing exemplifies where we'd like to take our sport compact drag racing program in the future - to supporting proven, hardworking teams running their own GM products."
"Starting this race team has always been a goal of mine," said Hoyos. "It was something we had planned to do in 2006, but some opportunities became available that have allowed us to do it now and I'm very excited about getting the Driven2Win team up and running. We'll have a very aggressive program that will include Lisa Kubo as the driver of a Pro RWD Cobalt, and we feel the marketing and media exposure we'll be able to provide for Chevrolet this year will be extremely effective. That's pretty much how we're going to define success for this team this year, both on the track and off."
With his new racing enterprise, Hoyos will be looking to duplicate the on-track success that he's experienced during the last two years as a member of the GM Racing factory program. En route to a pair of consecutive NHRA Sport Compact championships in 2003-04, the South Florida resident chalked up an impressive array of victories including seven wins and 10 final-round appearances in '03, and five wins and nine final-round appearances in '04. Last October in Englishtown, N.J., Hoyos' Chevrolet set a national elapsed-time record of 7.406 seconds, and at the season finale at Pomona Raceway, his Ecotec-powered Cavalier roared to a new national speed record of 194.88 mph. Hoyos was named the 2004 Turbo Magazine Driver of the Year for his accomplishments.
"We're very pleased to be able to continue our relationship with GM and Chevrolet," said Hoyos. "Having been involved with the factory team for the last three seasons has been an honor and I wanted to continue that relationship with our Driven2Win team for 2005. I've been proud to drive a Chevrolet and represent Chevrolet, and with the new Cobalt, racing this year is going to be even better. GM will also allow our program to share in the research and development that is being done on Marty's car, and in turn, we'll be able to send information flow their way. Even though we're not racing with the factory team, we'll be working in unison to accomplish the same goals."
In 2005, the GM Racing team will compete in select NHRA and NDRA events. By 2006, GM Racing will transition completely out of its role as a factory team and will move fully into a team-support model