Champ Car Media Conference
Topics: Champ Car
ADAM SAAL: Thank you all for coming out for a pair of exciting announcements. We are going to hear about our new branding as well as the new team joining the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford to get things started. Would you please welcome CART CEO and President Christopher R. Pook.
CHRIS POOK: Good morning. Thank you for joining us this morning. This is an extremely important day because it represents the start of the second of three major steps that this management team took to reestablish the value back into this company, not only for the companies involved in this series, but also for our fans. This second step involves establishing a mechanism to provide an increased return on the investment from all of our sponsors, be they series sponsors, be they a car sponsor, be they a venue sponsor. And most importantly, our fans. You'll recall that last year, which was an educational year to say the least, we spent our time stabilizing the company. The next two years we'll spend rebuilding the company toward 2005 where our goal at that time is to become the most efficient automotive technology sports marketing delivery system in North America. Before we talk about tomorrow, let's reflect for a moment on yesterday, and particularly the tradition and the heritage of Champ Car racing, and indeed of Championship Auto Racing Teams. Let's not forget why Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Pat Patrick and Bobby Hillin formed Championship Auto Racing Teams. It was formed to create added value to open-wheel racing. Two of those gentlemen were road racers, two of those gentlemen were oval racers and their goal was to take the car values of both disciplines into the marketplace. They wanted to create added value. They wanted corporate America to participate. They wanted national television and they wanted to create an open-wheel, year-round championship, a series that would provide for the best road racer, the best oval racers, and deliver a real championship, championship cars, championship drivers. Look at the list of those who have participated: Andretti, Hoyt, Unser, Dallenbach, Rahal, Fittipaldi, Vasser, Zanardi, Montoya, da Matta and many more. Last week was the largest international auto racing show in the world. We were fortunate enough to be a large part of the show among old drivers and young drivers and intermediate drivers. The word was, basically, if you want to prove yourself and prove your career to get to the top, Champ Car racing is an avenue that you can follow. As those of you in the media remember, almost starting in Miami, the constant precession of drivers from all over the world who came through our path to look at our series with an eye to participate. Our 2003 lineup consists of young, talented drivers. Both have chosen the Champ Car format for their livelihood. It's a format that is designed to reward those who work hard to achieve success, especially Penske, Gurney, Patrick; it's about delivering value to fans. Talking about watching, we took a certain amount of heat last year over our TV package, but thanks to the hard work of Lingner Productions who orchestrated it and CBS, we had a record year in delivering value. Joyce Julius informed us that the exposure last year with sponsors was over 150 hours. That's 103 percent increase over 2001. 2001, 829 sponsor engines; 2002, there were 6,885 sponsored engines. Now, that's really value. Look at our attendance. Over 2.6 million people attended Champ Car races in 2002. So I respectfully suggest to you that we are challenged as we go into 2003 to increase those numbers and we will increase those numbers. We continue to bring value back to all of our constituents involved in our sport. Now, let me talk for a second about delivery systems, because the goal as I said for 2005 is to have the most efficient automotive technology delivery system in motor sports in North America. Just talk about North America, Canada: three major markets, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, the three largest markets in Canada. Mexico, the two largest markets in Mexico, Monterrey and Mexico City. And then the United States, Los Angeles/San Francisco, Portland/Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee/Chicago, Cleveland/Columbus, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami. In Europe, in England, the London market, in Germany, Berlin, and then we go to the pacific basin, in Brisbane, Australia. In 2004 we will add two more major markets in North America. And when I say "major markets," I'm not talking about venues that are 40 miles outside of town. I'm talking about venues that are in town. Those deliver an incredibly efficient set of demographics and those set of demographics determine the companies who involve themselves in our series. They will bring value to the corporation and deliver value to our audience. In talking about delivering value, let's look at our two partners for 2003. I don't think one can imagine two better partners for a series that's moving forward and growing than Bridgestone and Ford. Ford in their 100th year as an automobile manufacturer, and Bridgestone continues a rich tradition of racing. It's a perfect fit for the history and tradition and the core values of Champ Car racing. Together, we will continue to develop a Champ Car brand. We will continue to develop racing car drivers of the status of the names that I read to you earlier. We will set a course for the future in the true tradition of Champ Car racing and the core values of the men who established this company. So today on this important day as we take our second step, and we tell you about our new branding and our new logo, it is now my pleasure to introduce to you from Bridgestone, Joe Barbieri and from Ford Motor Company, John Probst. (Unveiling)
JOE BARBIERI: Good morning, it's certainly an honor for me to be here representing our company. In Fontana last fall we announced Bridgestone's new role as presenting sponsor with the Champ Car World Series. And with that announcement we met with CART's leadership and graphic design team and began working for an appropriate series logo. We didn't undertake this design process lightly. We knew that the logo had to capture the flavor and excitement of the series and represent the important contributions we made. And just as important, it had to emphasize motion. As you look at the new logo you'll notice the subtle arrows, an element also found in this design is the arrow that is found on every Bridgestone Potenza racing radial that is used in the Champ Car series. That is what the series is doing, it's moving forward. CART has an impressive past, it has a bright future and we are excited to be part of this forward moving process. Bridgestone is proud to be an integral part of this new logo, and as we enter 2003, the confidence and strength of our product, the talent of our people will ensure great competition around the globe.
JOHN PROBST: We are very pleased to be joining Bridgestone in this tradition that is CART. We are also looking forward to our participation in the new era of Champ Car racing. This is our centennial year at Ford, and as you know, Henry Ford felt that racing was a lesson to be learned with the technology involved and the valuable tools of our products. In fact, Ford Motor Company was started in part from prize money that Henry Ford won racing his famous Sweepstakes car- which by the way had no fenders, so we consider it an open-wheel car. We are excited about our involvement in CART this year and the job Chris and his people have been doing to revive the series to create an exciting on-track product that will appeal to racing fans worldwide. Chris has been quoted that he wants to "put the racing back in racing" and we here at Ford could not agree more. Our partners at Cosworth are pleased to report that the first major test of the revised Ford-Cosworth XFE engine has gone extremely well last week at Sebring with teams Newman/Haas, Dale Coyne and Herdez Competition, running three days. Due to the increased power at the low-end of the engine, we expect lap times to be very comparable to those set in 2002, even though the peak horsepower and rpm's will be lowered for 2003. With dyno and track testing, we are confident that the engine will provide teams with a very reliable, competitive piece that will put even more emphasis on those teams to improve their setups, particularly in power-down situations and improve the driver's skill, and continue to develop the driver's skill and also put more emphasis on the race strategy. We feel that these things will go a long way to put the racing back in racing. On the marketing side, our people will be working hard with CART to identifying key markets so we can work with promoters to create strong promotional opportunities that will benefit the series in the long term. In short, we are pleased to be a partner with CART and Bridgestone in this new era. We know our engines and our people can help put power back into this series and help it move long on into the future. As [Director of Ford Racing Technology] Dan Davis alluded to in Miami, we are ready to burn some rubber off those Bridgestone tires. Thank you.
CHRIS POOK: Thank you very much. If I may, I would like now to introduce a new member of Champ Car management team. As you know last year I spent a considerable amount of my time in a turnaround mode. I was very fortunate enough toward the end of the year to start conversations with David Clare, and David has got umpteen years of experience in the motor racing business, both internationally and domestically. He ran Carl Haas' Formula 1 team for him for a number of years and then went to work for a good friend of ours Bernard Ecclestone as his right arm in running the Formula 1 business. So I'd like to introduce, David. (Applause.)
ADAM SAAL: We've been hard at it building the roster, building the entry list for the 2003 Champ Car season and today we have two new owners that we welcome to the ownership cockpit of the Champ Car racing team. Please welcome to the stage the principles of Pollock Kalkhoven Racing, Craig Pollock and Kevin Kalkhoven. Welcome, gentlemen.
CRAIG POLLOCK: Well, what can I say? I can't be any prouder than I am today. Obviously this announcement was made by CART, we are in the series, we have applied and we have been accepted and are proud to be here. It's going to be extremely hard for us because there are fantastic team owners and they have got more experience than we have in Champ Car, and we know it's going to be a very hard year. The decision was taken six weeks ago by Kevin. He came to Switzerland and said, "wouldn't it be a good idea to get involved in a Champ Car team?" At first, I looked him in the face and said the first race is the 23rd of February. First, how are we going to do that? We now have the facilities and we are here and ready to go. Cars are there, engines are in the facility, the parts are there, the guys are working extremely hard. We are going to be at Spring Training for the first time. My new partner Kevin Kalkhoven is also the partner I was working with when looking at the Arrows Formula 1 team. I think we made the right decision by coming here to a professional CART team to have some fun. Formula 1 is a little bit more difficult and a little less fun at times. I will pass over the microphone to Kevin.
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Thanks, Craig. As Craig mentioned we literally started this at the end of November. I think it's a great credit to Chris and the whole Champ Car team to stabilize the rules for the next two years- it enabled us to do this. Without the decisions that they made last year, it would have literally been impossible for a new team to have come on board as we have done. We started to get the facilities second of January. We will be in St. Petersburg on the 23rd. We are looking forward to competing with those folks. We will be in the less competitive ranks to start with. We will walk before we will run, but look forward to being as successful as these guys [team owners] are.
ADAM SAAL: I think the off-track underselling is already going on a little bit. These guys, they won't be way down on the grid -you can count on it. I'd like to ask Chris to come back up and speak to this development today.
CHRIS POOK: Craig, Kevin, welcome to Champ Car. We are delighted to have you and I know your fellow owners are equally delighted that you are here. It's about competition, it's about quality, it's about experience and it's about executing on a game plan. I would suggest to you that these two gentlemen who are joining us, they know about executing, they know about setting their sights on the goal posts and they know about bringing it to closure. It doesn't really surprise me that it only took six weeks because they have surrounded themselves with good people, they understand it and they know where they are going. I can just tell you that we are delighted to welcome them to the ranks of Champ Car owners, and I expect the bar is going to get raised with these gentlemen. It's a good day for Champ Car racing today. Thank you.
Q. Kevin or Craig, could you just address how you guys got associated and how it went? How did the whole story start?
CRAIG POLLOCK: Well, it actually happened through my lawyer. We had been dealing with Kevin on something else and it put the two of us together. Immediately, I would say that we both got on, which is extremely unusual in motorsports at times. And Kevin and I were looking into actually buying a Formula 1 team. It's quite simple. Kevin has the expertise behind him and the do diligence and I knew what I was in for in a Formula 1 team. From there, obviously that didn't work out, and we kept in touch. Kevin thought it might be a good idea to start up a CART team.
Q. Would you just talk about if you might be running Reynards, and the driver lineup?
CRAIG POLLOCK: We will be running Lolas this year. We are definitely going to be starting as a one-car team because starting as a two-car team would be impossible in just six weeks. On the driver front, we hope to be able to announce a driver within the next ten days, the driver and senior engineer within the next ten days. They are very much linked together and I will not, at this time, disclose who we are talking to driver-wise.
Q. With last year being a challenging year for CART, what gave you the confidence for a new team?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, first of all we've seen pretty much what the Formula 1 scene was about. I think when it was clear that wasn't going to happen, I started researching other areas, and obviously a Champ Car team was not the only one that I researched. I think some of the critical decisions that Chris had made last year, particularly in terms of the stabilization of the engine formula and the rules for the next two years, made it clear that it was possible to start a new team. And also, I believe very much in the format Chris is proposing, which is taking racing to the city. I think that's an exciting way of taking racing back to its roots. And I think looking at it on an international basis is also the right thing to do. So we then started discussing it with Chris and it became clear that this was a key point in the history of the Champ Car series and we very much wanted to be a part of that and see it grow from here.
ADAM SAAL: This is the 15th formally announced team. However we do have the contracts for the remaining 18 cars and then some as we promised in place. Our friends at Ford-Cosworth have a similar amount of contracts in place for their engine work. And basically the goal we set has been met. You'll see another announcement related to a team on Friday, this one naming a driver to a previously announced team.
Q. How are you going to divide your time on the CART circuit and what's going to happen with your relationship with Jacques Villeneuve in Formula 1?
CRAIG POLLOCK: It's going to be quite a difficult year because I have to work out quite a few things. I have promised my partner in crime [Kevin] that I will be putting the majority of my time into the CART series and making sure it is working. It would be impossible for me to do it without [team manager] Russell Cameron. I think Kevin really knows that. But where Jacques is concerned, Jacques is basically managed from my offices in Switzerland and Monaco and he has enough people looking after his interests all the time. I have gone through the whole scenario with Jacques and he is extremely excited about the fact that Kevin and I are starting this team up. He's been a huge supporter of Champ Car since day one, having been a champion and he knows what it's all about. He thinks this is the form of racing he'd be doing potentially in the future.
ADAM SAAL: Jacques does indeed remain one of our proponents for Champ Car racing.
Q. When you were in Miami with Jacques and you met with Chris, was that kind of the genesis of this whole thing or were you simply taking a look around? Because you talked with us and people kind of wondered if you were serious or not.
CRAIG POLLOCK: I tend very rarely to say that I'm looking at something without really looking at it. For me, if I came over to Miami to look at the race - I actually didn't even stay for the race. I was there on a fact-finding trip and I purposely asked to see Chris Pook and tried to pick his mind to see where he was going with Champ Car in the future. What he was telling me, I liked what I heard. It seems that his vision was the correct vision to lead Champ Car forward. I checked out many things that he said through other sources and it all weighed up. I also imparted what he said to Kevin, I think that also maybe helped Kevin look into the Champ Car series.
ADAM SAAL: Obviously Craig maintains close ties with the City of Montreal through his relationship to Jacques and other business interests. We will actually go there to reiterate this announcement at the conclusion of today's proceedings. It should be popular in Montreal where we had an unbelievable race last year and look forward to another incredible race this year.
Q. Jacques has always been a big supporter of Champ Car racing. His contract is up at the end of this season in Formula 1. Does your team have aspirations of actually having Jacques Villeneuve back in Champ Car racing in the future?
CRAIG POLLOCK: I think a lot of people in Champ Car would have aspirations of having someone like him driving for them. Isn't that right [team owner] Stefan [Johansson]? We've got to be very realistic about it. Jacques is a Formula 1 driver, his contract is up at the end of this year, but he has more championships to go in Formula 1. Definitely, if he can get a very competitive ride driving in Formula 1 then he should remain in Formula 1 at the present time. In the future, if Jacques wants to carry on racing, if he wanted to come over the Atlantic, I would love to have him on my team. But I just had a discussion with Chris Pook, and Jacques, definitely, if he came over here, he wants to win. He'd go to the most competitive team and it wouldn't be because of a buddy. He wants to win in anything he does. So if Stefan or [team owner] Eric [Bachelart] have a more competitive team than we have - he'd go there. And that's a fact in racing.
Q. You mentioned two more new dates in 2004. Will that mean you drop two existing?
CHRIS POOK: Good question. (Laughter). Obviously, I'm on record as saying that we are market driven company. And as a market driven company, you listen to all of your corporate partners and we listen to what our teams have to say and where they want to be. We will arrive at a consensus of what is the most efficient place for us to be as we take our series forward.
ADAM SAAL: We have a great deal of work to do over the coming weeks. We're definitely turning up the flame a notch, but it's all about getting toward St. Petersburg where we will get our season started. Thank you and we appreciate you being here today.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|