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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Andrew Craig
March 10, 1998


T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon. Welcome to our second CART Media Teleconference of the day. We would like to thank you all for taking the time to join us this afternoon. As many of you are aware, Championship Auto Racing Teams Incorporated began trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, the culmination of a process which began last December 23rd when CART announced its intention to go public by filing a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To add some perspective to that, at this point, I'd like to welcome CART President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Craig, who has a few remarks before we begin takes questions. Welcome, Andrew. Congratulations.

ANDREW CRAIG: Thanks, T. E.. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is obviously a very important week for Championship Auto Racing Teams. On Sunday, of course, our season begins, our 1998 season, when we are going to have 19 races which, of course, is up from 17 last year. In addition, our new title sponsor, FedEx, will take over the title position of the FedEx Championship Series. Of course, the final and very important event this week is our IPO which took place this morning. Obviously, we have been busy in the off-season; been doing a lot of things; acquiring a new title sponsor; adding new races and building our Series, and taking our company public. We are looking forward now to go racing and looking forward to a very competitive season.

T.E. McHALE: We will open it up for questions at this point.

Q. Mr. Craig, could you talk just a little bit about what buying the Indy Lights Series will do for the CART Series, why that is important to have the ownership of that? And, then, if you don't mind, talking a little bit about the other uses in mind for the money races, IPO?

ANDREW CRAIG: Sure. In our registration statements, we set out that we will acquire Indy Lights at the time of the closing of the IPO and, indeed, all the details and the price and so forth are finalized. We see this as an important and logical acquisition. We want to build a ladder system, or to establish clear stepping stones, that will help young talent and it will help fans for that young talent, to really understand how you enter the sport and how you grow through the sport to become a top level athlete in the FedEx Championship Series. We do regard the acquisition of Indy Lights as a first step in building those stepping stones. It is the logical first step for us to take. We will look for other stepping stones or other Series, if you like, that we can add. We are also very interested to acquire a racing school business; as, again, we see that as a logical thing for us to do. So that at every step of the way, a young driver will have a clear target in front of him or her, as to where they shall be moving to next. Then equally importantly, we can work with that young talent, nurture it, develop it, and build fans for these up-and-coming drivers as they grow in our sport.

Q. Andrew, with other motor sports companies that have gone public, they have had assets, usually in the form of race tracks, things that are kind of easier for analysts to evaluate, so forth. This is the first time a Series or a league has gone public. I guess, how do you -- I guess what have you -- what is the message you have taken to analysts on the road shows and this sort of thing? I know the stock is up on its first day, but how should investors, I guess, kind of look at this and also wonder if you could explain the motivation for going public?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, first of all, we are somewhat different from the other companies in the motor sports arena, that have gone public so far in that we are a content provider. And, in that respect, you are quite right, we don't have stadiums. We don't have concrete poured in the ground, so to speak. But, apart from that, we are really no different from any other business. We manufacture a product. That product being races. And, having manufactured it, we then sell it to our race promoters. If you apply normal business disciplines to that, it is a pretty straightforward business to explain to the investment community.

Q. Do you see this as a harbinger for other sports leagues to go public?

ANDREW CRAIG: It is hard to say. I am sure other sports leagues will have a look at what we are doing here. And I am sure that some will look at it quite carefully. But, I can't really talk for them. I am sure some will look.

Q. Following up on your acquisition strategy, you said you are going to be looking at driving schools. Are they going to be primarily open-wheel driving schools?

ANDREW CRAIG: Yes, we are in the business of open-wheel racing and bringing that racing to a larger public. At this stage certainly everything we are doing is concentrated around open-wheel racing.

Q. Two-part question. One is what has been the response from the investment community to the offering and also do you foresee a possibility of actually perhaps acquiring or building race facilities?

ANDREW CRAIG: Let me answer the second part of that first. No, we are not in the business of acquiring and building racing facilities. We are the content provider. We think that is the business we know well and that is the business we are going to continue to concentrate on. As to the reaction of the IPO, I think probably the market speaks for itself and the stock has traded very well in its first day of trading.

Q. I was just wondering, you were talking about being content providers. One of the primary content providers are yours drivers. Did they figure into all of this?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, the drivers, of course, are contracted by the race teams. And, the drivers are not directly involved in the IPO, but, of course, they are obviously a very, very important part of what we do. But, it was the shareholders of Championship Auto Racing Teams who, of course, are the race teams, taking the business they have built public. So, the race teams are the partial beneficiaries of this. And, insofar, as healthy and financially secure race teams provide a good environment for developing future race drivers' careers and, yes, the drivers do share in it, but obviously, they are not shareholders in the company.

Q. I kind of missed a little bit, your response to a question. I wondered if you could perhaps reiterate some of the things that you said with regard to bringing the whole stepping stone process under the CART umbrella and whether that would -- will, you think eventually lead to, let us say, the Toyota Atlantic Series, you know, Barber Dodge, you know, even the Formula Ford 2000 and Karts, whether there will actually, you know, in the future be a formal relationship between Karts and those different Series as there is, you know, between CART and Indy Lights?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, let me just explain some of the underlying philosophy here. We like to make the comparison with the NFL. Everybody on this phone call today understands exactly how a young committed high school football player gets to the NFL. You know the process and you can follow the athlete throughout his career from high school into college, from college into the NFL. And when he arrives there, there is already significant anticipation about what he may do. He is actually already a star, or certainly has the beginning of becoming a star by the time he arrives in the top level of the sport. And, our thinking is very similar. We really do need to provide fans with a system whereby they can really understand where these terrifically talented athletes who land up in the FedEx Championship Series just where they come from. We want to build a following for those drivers through their careers. We also feel that, quite frankly, right now for a young race car driver, it is really very difficult if you want land up at the top of open-wheel racing to really quite decide how you should pursue that goal. There are many series out there. Many of them are extremely good. But, it is quite hard to know quite where you should invest your time and energy in developing your career. So we think that it really behooves us to make the stepping stones clear and to send a clear signal to drivers to say, look, if you go through these steps, this is the most likely way that you are going to find yourselves landing up at the top echelons of the sport. This is not exactly an original thought. It exists, of course, in other sports. I mentioned the NFL as one example. Most sports do this. We just don't and we think it is an important thing that we should do. As to where we might go beyond Indy Lights, I really don't want to speculate at this stage. But, suffice it to say, it certainly is my intention, during the course of 1998, to make further acquisitions to start to get the rungs in the ladder or the stepping stones in place.

Q. The plans for racing in Europe. I know that Germany is a place that always comes up. Could you talk a little bit about where that is at this point and perhaps again, to refresh my memory, the name of the place that you are talking about there?

ANDREW CRAIG: Sure. We have had some very constructive discussions over the last couple of years with actually with a number of groups, but, in particular, there is one group in Germany, Lausitzring. It is 60 miles south of Berlin. Actually, the track at this stage has not yet been built. It is a green field today. But, we have been working quite closely with the group there that wants to develop this track. Now, one point I should make is that when we race overseas, we really only want to race on ovals because we want to take the American tradition of racing to overseas' audiences. We see little point, for instance, in going to Japan - as you all know we are going to Japan later this year - we see little point in going to Japan and looking just like Formula I. We want to take a uniquely American form of the sport, which we think would be extremely popular, and to provide overseas' fans with something they have never really seen before. It is quite interesting that the case of Japan, that race is actually sponsored by Budweiser which gives you some idea of the American flavor we are trying to put into the whole thing. But, returning to Europe, certainly we remain very interested in having a race in Europe. Our audiences on the television side have been growing substantially in Europe. We think that is partly helped by the fact that we have an evening show because we go out in prime time in the evening, so there is a lot of interest on Sunday evening's in our program. We think the conditions are right to do this. And, at the appropriate time, when the track is built, this could be, perhaps, two, three years away, when that happens I think we will consider it very carefully.

Q. How happy are you with the current position of the CART Series compared with the IRL?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, they are two very different things. We combine the very best of American racing in oval racing with the more, perhaps, European tradition of road racing. We know from our market research that our fans like the fact that we have this very special challenge for both the drivers and for engineers bringing these two things together. In addition, of course, we have a very international Series where we encourage the best-of-the-best to come and join our Series. So, I think they are very different products. We are extremely satisfied with the performance of our Series in the last few years. We are adding more races. We have gone from 17 to 19 races. Interest is growing in the sport. And, we are very confident about our future in developing the National Championship for open-wheel racing in the U.S.A..

Q. Andrew, Indy Lights, do I presume, therefore, the sale of that has been concluded today?

ANDREW CRAIG: No. Actually it will conclude on Friday. But, the terms are all agreed and the sale actually will conclude this Friday.

Q. What benefits are to be here for the competitors? I think in the past there has been some discussion, let us say, about the costs of spare parts for the cars. I think that most people agreed that the actual cost of buying the cars is not too outlandish considering what is involved there, but there is certainly some criticism about the price of the parts and such; is that likely to change at all?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, we think Indy Lights is an extremely well run business. We think Roger Baily does an excellent job and we look forward to -- a very close relationship. Obviously, our vision is that every element of the sport - whether it is Indy Lights or whatever maybe below Indy Lights - needs to provide the competitors with the most cost effective racing. And, we are always going to be looking at every opportunity to make sure the costs remain affordable. But, I have to say that overall, I do think Roger and his team have done a terrific job. When you look at the level and the quality of racing Indy Lights provides, I think the pricing is not unreasonable.

Q. Is 20 still the maximum number of races that CART is looking at?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, it rather depends. Looking to the future, obviously, one of the things that is very important is whatever developments we make has to be done in lock-step with the teams. Because, quite clearly, if we grow the Series too quickly and if we allow it to get ahead of itself, so to speak, then obviously the teams would not have the financing necessary to run the additional races. But, one of the things we want to look at very carefully with the teams - and indeed have already started these discussions - is that if we test less, we could race more. Of course, it costs you precisely the same to test a mile as it costs you race a mile. We think possibly more racing and less testing might be a cost effective way of increase the race schedule.

Q. In your offering, kind of your initial objective or the first one you mentioned was growth and the company's growth strategy is to increase revenues and net income by expanding the worldwide audience for CART Racing. And, that brings us, I think, immediately to television. Your television audience is pretty big. It has got about 12.4 million in the United States and something like a billion over the course of a year. But, I was wondering, as a content provider, is there anything you can do and anything you are doing to improve the quality of the television?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, first of all, you are obviously right in the end, the vast majority of people that see our racing around the world, of course, are only ever going to see the product on television. So, in the end, television is an absolutely critical element. We are working very, very closely, actually closer than we ever worked before, with our TV partners at ESPN and our production company OCC. Last year we employed a gentleman called Keith Allo, who was an executive producer at Fox Sports. Keith came on as our vice-president of television. And, somewhat ashamed to say, that it is the first time in CART's 20 history they actually had a full-time television professional on the staff. I think it is an important first step. Keith in turn, over the winter, has employed other TV professionals on our end of the business. So, we have upped our game. We have had extremely constructive preseason planning meetings with our TV partners, and, no shortage of ideas and innovation on our side. And, I am confident you are going to see an improvement in TV product moving forward. You are right, we actually reach out to one billion viewers. That is an average of 61 million viewers per race in 188 countries worldwide.

Q. Did you confirm the 1988 Japanese television rights are 3.5 mil?

ANDREW CRAIG: No, they are not. I don't know where that number comes from.

Q. You had a little bit of difficulty apparently with the SEC relative to -- they wanted you to restate earnings - specifically relative to a technical line item called "Compensation expense." Would you have been able to commence the road show if you had a negative of 4.1 million for your 1997 proforma?

ANDREW CRAIG: I believe we would have done so. What investors are interested in is the actual performance going forward. And the past, of course, is only a guide for the future. But, when you restate our business on a proforma business and, in fact, the past is attractive and the investors obviously take the view that the future is equally attractive.

Q. You mentioned very early in this conversation the term usual "Business practices." I am wondering was that one of the charges when you came into your current position was to bring CART into a world of usual business practices or maybe enhance usual business practices?

ANDREW CRAIG: I think it was. And actually I have been involved in sports in various ways now for 15, 16 years, I guess, and the first thing with sport is it is a sports business and both those words are very important. We should never lose site of the sporting ideals for which we stand for. But, equally, it is a business. And, just because we are in sport, doesn't mean it shouldn't be run on business-like lines. And, we refer to our sponsorships as products and we use very carefully crafted business terminology to describe everything we do; including the process of making a race which, to us, is manufacturing a race. We do that to instill in all of our staff the idea that, yes, we are in sport and we are all very committed to protecting the ideals of our sport. But, at the same time, we should never lose site of the fact that this is a business and it has to be profitable and it has to pay its own way.

Q. This is a season that really, in my opinion, opens up a whole new era of open-wheel racing; no longer is it IndyCar. It is now the Championship Series. And you have got a blue chip company such as FedEx as your title sponsor. What has all of that meant?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, moving to the Champ Car name, I think, is extremely important. Our company was formed 20 years ago and if you look back beyond those 20 years, we can trace our bloodline right back to 1904 when the first National Championship was held. We think it is very, very important that we build in the public's mind that there is a clear National Championship for open-wheel racing. Champ Cars was always the traditional name that was used in the sport. It fell out of use, I think, in the mid '60s to early '70s; for whatever reason, it stopped being used. We think it is the right name. It is a very traditional name and we think it will help us as we position our sport as the National Championship. FedEx, of course, is a terrific addition to Championship Auto Racing Teams. Let me just also say that of course we have retained PPG - it is still the PPG Cup - but bringing FedEx into the title, the naming position is really critical because obviously it is a company that reaches out to millions and millions of people everyday. Hopefully, as time goes by and the FedEx name becomes synonymous with our Championship, every time you see one of those FedEx vans - and you will be amazed the times you do see them every day - people are going to think about our Championship so we can build presence and awareness; and, so forth. So, it is a very, very important addition in everything we are trying to do.

Q. I am especially interested in the television coverage because it seems like one of the major areas to increase the value of the stock by increasing the television revenue; particularly event coverage. The answer that you gave was rather general. I wonder if there are any specifics you can share with us. I am also curious about the recession of stock with regard to Project Indy, did they pay for the stock; what happened there? And, were the drivers allowed to participate in the stock that was set aside for insiders?

ANDREW CRAIG: A number of questions there. The answer to your last question, first of all, yes, the drivers were allowed to participate in the stock that was set aside for insiders. Your next question was --

Q. Project Indy.

ANDREW CRAIG: Project Indy decided that they were unable to guarantee they can meet all the obligations of a team to take part in the full season. They are not quite where they want to be in terms of sponsorship dollars. Therefore, at their request, they decided to withdraw from the 1/6 of one share that we had offered them because a condition of that is that you must take part in the whole season. Turning to television: Our current television agreement with ESPN does last through until the year 2001. So I have to make the point the agreement is fixed. What we need to do is really concentrate on the production of the shows. And, the primary thing that has been lacking, I think, on our side has been a proper understanding and dialogue with our TV partners. And, as we all know, ESPN are the preeminent producers of sport in this country and with a better dialogue, a better communication, we believe that we are going to have a far crisper TV show this year.

Q. Actually two of my questions have been previously answered, but I did have a question about the acquisition of Indy Lights since it has already been the official support Series. Now that you have acquired that Series, how will things be different in terms of will you be doing a different marketing program, public relations, to kind of build those stars? What will be the plan there?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, the first thing is, of course, that Indy Lights is located about three miles from our office, so this is a relatively easy business for us to integrate into our business. The second thing, of course, is that the two organizations have worked very, very closely together over the last few years. We have always officiated - not always - but we have, in recent years, officiated their races, so that side of the business is very well known to us. In more recent times, over the last couple of years, we have started to integrate Indy Lights sponsorship products into our products, and make combined sales on their behalf. We see a lot of scope to do that in the future. We think we can package the Indy Lights program in with the things that we are selling to sponsors. We think there is a lot of economies of scale if you do it that way, sales costs go down significantly because it is obviously much easier to sell a combined package than two separate packages. As far as the further integration of the two businesses is concerned, what I am going to do is look at very carefully how we can look for cost savings and economies over the next twelve months. We are not going to rush to merge their office into our office, but the end of 12 months we will look at what we should be doing to maximize the efficiencies of which, I am sure, there will be some.

Q. I am wondering if you see driver talent as a somewhat limited commodity? And, if so, once you provide this stepping stone or the ladder of progress for a young driver, what is that -- what if that driver, once you invested in his or her development, wants to go to IRL or NASCAR, can you talk about how this Series would keep that person, you know, on the path?

ANDREW CRAIG: Sure. Let me address the first issue about driver talent as a limited commodity. I take the view that perhaps one of the most frustrating things about our sport is the limited opportunity that is there for people to try it. It seems only logical to me that there must be many immensely talented race car drivers who just never ever have the opportunity or have has even thought about looking for the opportunity to enter the sport. It is a sport which certainly isn't easy to enter. It is not something which is available to you at school. It wasn't on the school curriculum that you are going to go racing. I just feel it is very important that we make this sport as accessible as possible. Accessibility means first of all, knowing where to go and, secondly, providing, at sensible costs, the opportunity to try the sport. On the second issue of how do I feel about if we develop drivers and they go elsewhere - that is the luck of the draw. Actually, in a slightly different context, I have often been asked, how do I feel about the fact that Jacques Villeneuve went over to Formula I. I am fine about that provided he goes over there and wins which he obviously did last year, very successfully, I have no problem with drivers moving around. Drivers have to plan their own careers. If they are with us for a while and they go do something else, it is up to them. I think it is a healthy two-way street and drivers obviously have to determine for themselves where they want to race and when they want to race there.

Q. Andrew, do you foresee a name change in the Indy Lights Series?

ANDREW CRAIG: Not at this stage.

Q. Andrew, are there any changes you anticipate in the way CART is run now that you are a public company? I mean, this happens -- it is no secret in other types of businesses when a company goes public there are some adjustments they have to make. In the prospectus you talked about how they have ended the franchise payment system, but beyond that, are there any general ways that CART may -- any general changes that may occur by being a public company?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, over the last three years, we have really changed the company quite dramatically. We have increased its turnover substantially and we have reinvested part of that turnover in acquiring talent, acquiring marketing staff, acquiring television staff. Actually, also, acquiring financial administration staff as well. And, actually, we have doubled the size of the company the last few years. I think now we are really building a good strong team of professionals in every part of the company. So really, in taking the company public, it is not going to result in a significant change in our organization. We obviously have had to increase, on the financial administration side, our personnel somewhat. But, really, we have been gearing up to just be a bigger and better business for the last three, four years. It is almost as if the IPO is almost a logical next step for us to take. So, no, you are not going to see any huge changes in the organization itself.

Q. Following up, going to the stepping stone, you mentioned there is some confusion. What are -- what are some of the main problems you have now by there not being a clear stepping stone? I know in recent years with some of the stuff involving the IRL, there were some people who felt that there was -- people used to have a shot at open-wheel racing, no longer have a shot. Some of those people have switched to NASCAR and Stock Car. What have been some of the problems been by not having the stepping stone?

ANDREW CRAIG: I think that because outside of America there is a clear system, both in Latin America; but, particularly, in Europe, I think actually that it has almost made it easier, curiously, for Europeans, in particular, to move into our Series because there are these ladder systems. As they move up the European ladder, so to speak, you can get to Formula III and you can say to yourself, I can go to Formula 3000, or, alternatively, I can come over to Indy Lights. Because that was a pretty clear route to take. It has been very difficult for young Americans to decide quite where to race. I mean, they all know where they want to be, for the most part know where they want to be - they want to get into the FedEx Championship Series. But, unless we give them guidance as to how to get there, it is really very, very difficult indeed. And, actually, I was involved with Jeremy Shaw and with others on Jeremy's excellent project which takes drivers over to the UK each year to race and it really struck me when we were working with these young drivers, that came from all sorts of open-wheel disciplines; actually some of them outside of open-wheel - absolutely no structure right now at all. And, you leave the potential competitors very, very confused as to what they should be doing. This is not a cheap sport and it is really important that we give the people the clear signal as to where it would be best to invest the money they are going to spend in this sport, and where they are most likely to go and progress up the ladder.

Q. Sounds like you are almost like building it from like the top down, you know, you are acquiring Indy Lights which is kind of the first step down and is that kind of the pattern --

ANDREW CRAIG: It is curious you should say that. Because actually we do describe this as growing the business down. Most companies start small and they grow up over time. Our company, of course, was set up by a group of team owners who came together and said "We can run the sport better." That is exactly what they did. They started at the top. You are absolutely right, that is exactly what happened. They started at the at top and there are none of the underpinnings that normally are there. If you look at the way the NASCAR has built a fabulous business over the last 50 years, they did it brick by brick and they built what you might call, sort of a pyramid of activity. We don't have that pyramid. We don't have the underpinnings. We think we need them. So, yes, it is a phrase we use, "Grow the business down."

Q. Could you touch on the issue of prize money. Apparently this year it is going to be -- the amount is going to be published. And, so the next question would be are we also going to be increasing prize money from previous years?

ANDREW CRAIG: The purse this year will be half a million dollars per race; with winner receiving $100,000, which is up from $67,000, Steve, I might be off by a few dollars there. We will get you the exact number.

Q. Some promoters are concerned that there has been disparity between the amount which is paid by one promoter or one venue compared to another. Are you going to try formalizing or standardizing a sanction fee based on attendance, TV ratings, or anything like that?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, I guess we can only really have complete parity sanction fees if every track was the same size and in the market of equal importance. I think that there will always be some markets which are smaller than others, and we have to take into account the economic well being of our promoter as well because we are very anxious that we want everybody to have a profitable business. So, I mean, I don't think we could ever arrive at a situation where all sanction fees are the same. Internationally, for example, the market just plain well commands a better price, just as simple as that. Fans will pay more. Sponsors will pay more. But, obviously as time goes on, as venues perhaps do get a little bit larger, then you may well see some equalization, but I can't ever envisage a situation where all sanction fees will be the same.

Q. What were the ratings for the 1997 season, the Nielsen ratings No. 1? No. 2, without the 20 million that CART gave to the teams last year to cover their racing and director's fees and such, how are they going to replace that going forward?

ANDREW CRAIG: The average network rating in 1997 was a 1.7. In addition to the original air then CART re-airs its races 3 further times. And, the first re-air provided an additional point 2 of a rating. So, on a gross rating point basis, in other words, the original air, plus the first re-air, the average is 1.9. With regard to the revenues that the teams are giving up, bear in mind that 95 percent of the revenue of any race team these days comes from sponsors. It is sponsorship which drives this sport from top to bottom. So, our teams are fully prepared. This is a year of transition for them, obviously. But they are fully prepared to fill the gap. We are in an industry with over 400 million dollars worth of corporate support and that is actually a Business Week number. That support goes to us, of course, to the tracks. But, the vast majority of it actually goes to the race teams. So, I think when you see that 20 million in that context, it may seem like at first glance to be a large sum of money, but, actually, it is a relatively small proportion of the operating costs of a race team.

Q. I have a provincial question here. I hope you don't mind answering it.

ANDREW CRAIG: Not at all.

Q. You said a couple of weeks ago to one of the spokesmen there at CART that you had no conversations with PIR management as far as returning to Phoenix in the future. I just want to be sure -- does that mean you have not talked to Bill France either or is it just --

ANDREW CRAIG: No, we have had no conversations with anybody about a return to PIR. As I said, at the time, we loved racing there. It is a great track and terrific race fans. But, at this stage, it is not in our plans. We have had no conversations with anybody at any level in connection with PIR.

Q. Could you see yourself returning in the future? Any reason why you couldn't return?

ANDREW CRAIG: There is absolutely no philosophical reason why we couldn't return. Obviously, some practical issues come into play as to when and so forth and so forth. But, philosophically no, absolutely not. We think it is a wonderful facility. As I said, a great race market and we have always enjoyed racing there. But, at this stage, there are no discussions.

Q. Andrew, you were just -- you had the previous question there about Phoenix. Is there any thought -- you have 19 races this year. Is there any thought to maybe -- I know there was a question earlier about expansion to Germany, but is there any possibility of dropping some of the events that you have now and maybe shuffling some of the races around, specifically, the end of the season. I think I talked to you a few weeks ago about the Molson Indy Vancouver; there was some talk that there was going to be a conflict with a PGA golf event and they might like to move it a week ahead or a week back. Are most of those dates fixed and will they be sort of fixed in perpetuity? I am talking about races like Monterey and Elkhart Lake and also Mid-Ohio, are those, you know, are those fixtures, those dates for the foreseeable future?

ANDREW CRAIG: Well, we think actually that we do have to have a very careful look at the specific dates for some of our races. We have had some first discussions with our race promoters on this point. We need more flexibility on dates; primarily, for television reasons. It really behooves us to make sure we have absolutely the best TV dates available. I mean, TV, of course, is becoming ever more congested with ever more alternatives at the weekend. But, we need to make sure that when we are racing, we choose a schedule which -- we choose to race on weekends where the competition we are up against is -- puts us in the best possible position. That is not always the case today. We started that discussion with our promoters, but on the other hand, promoters for their part have built substantial equity in certain dates and we are not about to just overnight to abandon that. This is a real partnership with our promoters. So, I think, though, you will see some of these dates moved around over time. But that is something which we are going to do very much in consultation with our promoters. We are not going to force feed that to anybody. We want it to be done in a constructive spirit because we think it is in the best overall interest of the sport.

Q. You mentioned if you did add Germany, I mean, one of the reasons for the CART schedule ending in September traditionally was that you didn't want to go up against the NFL on television. But, now, this year, you have what, two races in September, two in October, one in November, presumably - I don't know where Germany would fit into that in the schedule - but are you sort of abandoning that strategy a little bit --

ANDREW CRAIG: We are, quite frankly. It still remains a valid strategy. Most people do not choose to go head-to-head with the NFL, simple as that. Particularly when actually the demographics in our case are so similar. We have a somewhat upscale audience and it is very, very similar in many ways to the NFL audience. But, the fact of matter is there are 52 weekends in the year and we have a sport, a summer sport essentially and if we are going to expand the number of races then, for sure, we have got to find some extra weekends somewhere and the place we have been looking at right now is in the autumn because that was the easiest and most obvious thing to do.

Q. Is that -- I mean, is that -- you mentioned the reason you didn't go because that was against the NFL. But, have your market surveys shown that this is not such, you know, a difficult, you know, time in the calendar year to schedule events? I mean, can you expect your ratings to be -- to hold up from the summer into the fall?

ANDREW CRAIG: I think you will always see some races decline in the fall. What we tend to do is to put our races onto cable in the fall because you tend not to get the network affiliate clearance if you go up against football. And we are very happy to be on ESPN later in the year. But, no, I mean, I think inevitably you do see some ratings decline when you go head-to-head with football. If I could back up for one second, I want to make it clear about moving the dates: That we have absolutely no intention of moving the Vancouver date merely because of a PGA event - just to be clear on that point.

T.E. McHALE: We will wrap it up for today. We want to thank Andrew Craig for taking the time to spend time with us this afternoon. I want to thank all of you for being with us this afternoon, and remind you that the FedEx Championship Series opener, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota, airs live this Sunday on ABC TV at 1:30 pm eastern time. Again, thanks for being with us today. Thanks to all the MCI operators who did double duty for us today. We wish you all a good afternoon.

ANDREW CRAIG: Thanks to you, T.E..



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