Sierra Sierra opens season Sunday

After taking a year off, Sierra Sierra Enterprises - a Minden-based open-wheel racing team - is ready to give it another go.

The team, owned by Diane and Dennis Kottke, went on hiatus while waiting for the Champ Car Atlantic Series to define its future as a racing circuit.

When Atlantic announced a new car back in August, Sierra Sierra was right there to sign-on.

"Diane and Dennis kept the team going in 2005," Sierra Sierra team manager Richard Raeder said. "But they didn't see much value in the series at the time.

"We waited until they announced this new car. We committed the day they annouced the new car. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon with it. There will probably be about 28-car fields on the series this season, which is much bigger than it has been."

Sierra Sierra established itself as the little team that could in 2003 and 2004, finishing as the runner-up in the Atlantic Championship series with Scottish driver Ryan Dalziel at the wheel. The team also produced the 2004 rookie of the year Andrew Ranger.

The results were impressive considering the team runs out of a hangar near the Minden-Tahoe Airport with a staff of about 10.

In the eight months since the announcement of the new series car, however, Sierra Sierra has had limited time actually working with it.

The new model, named Swift 016, features a Mazda power plant. Each team in the Atlantic series received their cars, packed in many pieces in large shipping crates, just a few weeks ago.

Each team had only about a week to put their cars together before the first mandatory test at the California Speedway.

"We couldn't really do much until the new car arrived," Raeder said. "Everyone in the series was in the same boat though.

"They came with pieces missing so we have been using our fair share of FedEx and UPs overnight packages.

"The guys have been working, doing about 12- to 15-hour days to get everything ready. With it being a brand new car, there will be a lot of technical issues early in the season. We think it will be about 300 horsepower, but we won't be sure until we can test it."

The season-opener is Sunday at the 1.968-mile street course in Long Beach, Calif. The race will be televised April 16 at 10 a.m. on the SPEED channel.

Along with the new car, Sierra Sierra will be featuring almost an entirely new team with Raeder and driver development coach David Empringham as the only holdovers from the 2004 campaign.

Sierra Sierra tested six drivers during the offseason, finally signing Brazilian driver Raphael Matos. Matos, who will race in car No. 6 in the Atlantic Series, won the Star Mazda Series championship last season.

The team also signed new chief engineer Gerald Tyler and Larry Edscorn as the crew chief.

Currently, Sierra Sierra is looking for corporate title sponsors for its car. The team is expecting to spend about $1.5 million on running one car this season. They are looking to bring on a second driver within the next year.

The Atlantic Series is televised weekly during the season and features large venues across the United States and Canada. It is also the series that produced Indy star Danica Patrick.

For more information on the team, call Raeder at 783-1900 or visit the team's Web site at

-- Joey Crandall can be reached at or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment