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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Ian Bisco
Dan Davis
Emerson Fittipaldi
Chris Pook
Al Speyer
November 21, 2002


ADAM SAAL: We thought it was very important that we join together here to take an advance look at 2003 and share with you some of our plans going forward for what's going to be probably the most significant year of operation in the history of Championship Auto Racing Teams. We will review the agenda somewhat later in the program, but right now I'd like to ask our guests to please join us up here for what will be a great announcement. Gentlemen. Please welcome the director of Ford Racing Technology, Dan Davis; vice president of Cosworth Racing North American operations, Ian Bisco; CART President and CEO Chris Pook; and a champion both in CART as well as Formula 1 World Championship, the youngest man to win there in that category, a man who perhaps personifies what racing is all about, not only on an international level, but also here in Miami, Emerson Fittipaldi. It was important from the CART perspective to kick off this meeting with a high note, and we can't have anything more positive to report to you today than what we're going to ask Dan Davis to share with you right now. Dan?

DAN DAVIS: Thank you, Adam. Thanks to all of you for being here today. Thanks to Chris Pook and CART for helping us put this program together. On behalf of Ford Racing we're pleased to announce this two-year agreement where the Champ Car Series will indeed be powered by Ford. Thank you. What this means is that for the next two years we at Ford will partner with CART on the exclusive automotive marketing arrangement. This agreement will see Ford's name in the new series logo, but for us way more importantly Ford cars will be the official pace cars for the CART events, Ford trucks will be the truck for the Simple Green Safety Team, and we will continue our ground-breaking involvement with CART as official technology provider through the use of our Blue Box Safety Program. In addition we've committed to television advertising with CART for the next two years and we'll be working with CART to get our local dealer groups involved in CART race weekends. To me that is really important. Let's get some local flavor in some of these races with some of our dealerships. Cosworth will remain very visible and very involved. In fact, the official name of the engines will be the Ford-Cosworth. Our Cosworth technical people will very much be in evidence around the tracks supporting the teams and the series. Ian and his people have been working very diligently on next year's Ford-Cosworth motor and I'm sure it will provide a great level of competition among all the teams in the next two years. Many of you have wondered if this agreement was ever going to be announced. That goes for me, too (laughter). The truth was we had to determine which brand at Ford Motor Company made the most sense for this program and how it could be best marketed to help us accomplish our ultimate goal of selling more cars and trucks. The bottom line for us, that's what we're here to do. We're pleased to have it done. We're very pleased to be supporting not just CART and the competitors, but also Cosworth in their efforts to create a world-class racing series. So thank you all once again. We at Ford are really excited about CART. We're really excited about our future together. As a closing, I'd like to say let's hit the gas and let's light up those Bridgestones. Thank you.

ADAM SAAL: As Dan alluded to, this is our second major sponsorship announcement in about two weeks. We will hear from Al Speyer from Bridgestone shortly. Chris, this was a key component of what you needed to accomplish as CART president. How do you feel about the foundation for the future with our new partners?

CHRIS POOK: Tremendous announcement for us today. We're absolutely delighted to have probably the greatest name in automobile racing, Ford Motor Company, involved in the series with us. Their commitment to motor racing is huge, not only in this country, but all over the world. You cannot go anywhere in the world and not find people who immediately associate the brand name of Ford with quality, with technology, and with the sport of automobile racing. For Championship Auto Racing Teams this relationship is very, very significant. It allows us now to move forward with a relaunch of this series, repositioning of this series. It is clearly our responsibility to deliver value to the Ford Motor Company, and indeed to Bridgestone, our presenting sponsor. Our job now is to sit down with Dan and his colleagues at Ford and find the most conducive way whereby we can race on Sunday and we can sell Fords on Monday. That's what it's all about it is our responsibility to provide value to companies so they get a return on their investment. That's what we intend to do at every single level in this relationship. We are obviously very happy. It's very significant for us. I think that you're going to see us now take this series to a new level.

ADAM SAAL: Thank you very much, Chris. As Dan said, let's get on the gas right now. Proof positive of that is the fact that right now the first 2003 spec Ford-Cosworth engine is actually being tested at Firebird. The man who has been charged with making the tweaks, the enhancements, as he has been for 20 years, is Ian Bisco. Ian joined us in Portland when we announced the Cosworth package. We're pleased to announce the Ford package. Ian, your mission stays the same no matter what. Tell us how you feel as you enter another era with Cosworth and CART.

IAN BISCO: I'd like to congratulate Ford for joining us. Ford and Cosworth together are no strangers to the world of motorsports. Together we've had many records, many success stories. We intend to build on our own record with CART in the future. Cosworth in California is now receiving many new parts and pieces. We've already started building engines for next season. We've put four together, tested those. Two of those have done a lot of work on the Ford Dyno in Dearborn. The other two, as Adam says, they're in Firebird in Phoenix there. They're going to start running in a car as we speak. I'm expecting a call to tell me they've done miles already. That's a real exciting part of the whole thing. The results that we had when we tested our first four engines, the first time we've seen those over here in the US, we ran four engines. All were within four horsepower of one another. We were really pleased about that. I think it's on target to be a very, very competitive and equal engine for everybody. We at Cosworth, with Ford, look forward to an exciting new chapter in CART's history. I guess we could get the manufacturer's championship for the next couple years with the engine program, right (laughter)?

ADAM SAAL: Thank you, Ian. It's a great program. Ian leads a group of people who, with Ford, will keep this moving. Speaking of partners, we'd like to ask Al Speyer to join us up here. Both sponsors alongside of our CART president. If you could make the Bridgestone announcement. An announcement was made at California Speedway not too long ago, a couple weeks ago. It really shocked some people. Al said it definitely made sense for Bridgestone. He's here to talk about what now must seem like a very good move. Al, give us your thoughts about now and the future.

AL SPEYER: Thank you, Adam. Good afternoon everyone. As Adam said, a couple weeks ago we announced at Fontana that Bridgestone will be the presenting sponsor of CART. We're doing this largely, as we stated in Fontana, because Bridgestone in our international brand. We promote it worldwide, in many countries, but we need to focus a little bit more in North America for our Bridgestone brand. It's very important to our business. We changed over to the Bridgestone brand starting this year. It's already built some momentum for us. The next logical step was simply to take the position as presenting sponsor. We really like the international flavor of CART, running not only in North America, but the international events. That challenge that it gives us technically with the variety of tracks, CART racing on not only speedways and ovals, but the street circuits, permanent road courses, very much helps us demonstrate the technology in our tires to the racing fans and the general public because, as Dan wants to sell Ford cars and trucks, we want to sell Bridgestone tires. We're very excited about this announcement today. It is another building block, another piece of the momentum for growing into next year. There have been some team announcements made already, driver announcements. Now we know the manufacturers. We're very excited and looking forward to working together with some new blood in 2003.

ADAM SAAL: Thank you very much, Al. Again, as a former CART and Formula 1 world championship, Emerson Fittipaldi set the standard for racing for many decades. He's been a proponent of CART, as well as Ford-Cosworth racing engines that took him to many wins in championships. You were with us in Portland, as well, when we announced Cosworth. Tell us what you think these decisions will make for the future of CART.

EMERSON FITTIPALDI: Well, first I would like to congratulate Ford and Cosworth for being involved with CART, and I congratulate Chris Pook. Ford's name in motor racing, like Chris says, is very traditional. I remember in 1969 when I went to England to race a Formula Ford, I had this opportunity to show what I could do with my talent against top young drivers from all over the world, most based in England. It was a new formula. That's the reason I was able to leave Brazil. I started racing in a competitive way in England. At that time there were big names like Jim Schenke (phonetic) from Australia, he was at that time the Formula Ford championship. I arrived from Brazil. I was received at that time by Ford Brazil. A very big manufacturer in Brazil, very big in the Brazilian public presence, very successful in Brazil, has helped a lot of young Brazilian drivers. I met Walter Hayes, who was one of the people responsible at that time to get Fords and Cosworth working together. They supplied Colin Chapman's first V8 engine to Jim Clark and Graham Hill. I was very lucky that I was able to join that very special group of people, not just Colin Chapman, but Walter Hayes, who I have a very good memory of. He was like my tutor, my advisor at that time. That showed how much tradition Ford and Cosworth has in racing. Then when I arrived here in America, I joined CART in 1984, 1985. I had many wins again with Ford-Cosworth. I'm sure for next year on, when everybody has the Ford-Cosworth engines, it will be a very competitive series, more competitive than ever, like when I joined here. Again, it's going to show the drivers' talents. It's going to be a great show for the public, for TV, and the drivers are going to show who is going to be the best driver. Again, congratulations to Ford, to Cosworth, Chris Pook for CART, and Bridgestone for joining us. I'm sure we're going to be the most competitive series, the most challenging series from a driver's point of view, perspective. Many people talk about IRL, about Formula 1, but we are the most challenging for any driver to come here and race. We have the short ovals, we have long ovals, two-mile ovals, street circuits, and road circuits. That's a challenge. Who wins here can go to Formula 1 and will be a real championship, like this year Cristiano da Matta. We have the best series. Thank you.

ADAM SAAL: Thank you very much, Emerson. Coming from you, it means a great deal. We're definitely going to live up to your expectations for next year. Chris, we'd like to give it back to you before we open it up from comments from the media. Reiterate what the official name of the series will be and what we can look for in the coming weeks as far as additional announcements related to that logo?

CHRIS POOK: I'm happy to announce the series will now be known as Bridgestone Presents the Indy Car World Series Powered by Ford.

ADAM SAAL: I believe that's Champ Car.

CHRIS POOK: Champ Car (laughter). Just testing to see if you're awake.

ADAM SAAL: It's the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. There we go. I think we'll go right to questions after that (laughter).

Q. Dan, talk about the process you went through to come to this agreement?

DAN DAVIS: A couple things. You and I talked about this maybe in Miami. You wrote a really nice article that came out, that was extremely accurate about that. One of the things that as a very large company as we are, being so international, so many different activities and people interested in motorsports, want to contribute in motorsports, it's difficult for me to keep everyone at Ford up to speed in terms of what was happening in CART. For a while we were going to do a new engine that was going to be naturally aspirated, then that changed. With all the changes, what occurred, it was very difficult for me to keep all of our management people together in terms of what's happening and why should we be supporting this series? As we all know here, it turned out to be a spec engine series with Cosworth. I had a to do a lot of educating within Ford to get everyone on the same page so they understood why it made sense to do it, that it was perfectly logical to support Cosworth that secured the engine program. That took a while, number one. Secondly, we had to look at: Which brands are we going to promote? Ford has a number of fantastic brands. We use Jaguar in Formula 1, we're now going to be using Ford in Formula 1, there's Mazda, Volvo, et cetera. We needed to look at: How are we going to do that? Are we going to try to involve all brands or just one brand? There were a lot of deliberations, a lot of education that needed to take place. We are the kind of company that wants to be very inclusionary in terms of letting everyone in upper management understand what we're doing and have the opportunity to debate it and discuss it with us. That all occurred. We got it all finished up in the last month. Everyone's ready, as I indicated earlier, to hit the gas. Everyone at Ford Motor Company, I can tell you, the entire upper management team at Ford Motor Company is behind this program. We don't have one dissenter that says, "What are you doing?" or "Why?" Maybe it took me a while to get that done, but for me that is a very powerful process and a very powerful stamp of approval of what we're doing and how strongly Ford feels about it. I can tell you all the way up to our chairman looked at this program and said, "Go."

Q. Can you talk about the marketing involved?

DAN DAVIS: I can't really tell you all the specifics. Some of those programs have to come together. We really want to get the local Ford activities together when there's a race in their community. That's work yet to be done. That's something that will be ahead of us. Certainly from the national standpoint, from the corporate division standpoint, we're there. We already have the funding and so forth to bring forward the program. At the local level, we've got some work to do. That will be our challenge as we roll this program out. We've got some new cities we're going to that we have to just deal with what we call Ford dealer associations. We really need to get to them and outline the opportunities that are there for them, get them to understand how they can utilize this form of motorsports to help sell products. You know, the term "Race on Sunday, sell on Monday" is a great term. In reality what happens is an automobile is such a major purchase for most people, really the influence is cumulative, it's long-term. We're really pushing the Ford brand and the association with being a winner, being with a great racing series, the excitement, all that. That's what we call loyalty. We're trying to build brand loyalty here. You build brand loyalty with winning, being associated with quality activities and quality companies. That's where we are with this one.

ADAM SAAL: Are you going to take advantage of the drivers in marketing your product?

DAN DAVIS: I would really like to do that. That is not something we have planned yet. As a director of racing, I feel just so strong that the drivers are the real key to the success of helping your brand. We've done that in all the other series we've been in. We've done that with our drivers in the current CART arena. I hope to expand that, yes. I think it's a huge opportunity for us.

ADAM SAAL: David, as the man in charge of CART's media relations, I'm looking forward to working with our partners at Ford as well as Bridgestone to do exactly that, to take the new drivers coming in and develop them into recognizable and marketable and known sporting celebrities here in this country. It's no small task, but we're definitely going to shoot for that, we have to shoot for that. I'm very much looking forward to this. We have some good resources with the PR components in both these corporations.

Q. Can you talk about Ford Canada, Mexico, Australia, are they on board?

DAN DAVIS: I think the simple answer to that is they're on board, but we don't have a program yet. The opportunity is in front of us to go explore, but we haven't explored it yet. That's the challenge ahead of us. It's a good challenge. I mean, obviously the races in Canada are phenomenal. The races in Mexico are phenomenal. Ford Mexico has been involved in the past. Now we get a chance to really expand on that. But we have work ahead of us on that one.

ADAM SAAL: Gentlemen, thank you very much.



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