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Champ Car Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Champ Car World Series

Champ Car Media Conference

Joe Chrnelich
Dick Eidswick
Kevin Kalkhoven
Chuck Kosich
Hiroshi Nakajima
August 13, 2005


DENVER, COLORADO

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to thank everybody for coming by for the announcement of the 2006 Champ Car World Series schedule. Participating today in the front here to talk about the schedule is the President of Champ Car, Dick Eidswick; Co-owner of Champ Car, Kevin Kalkhoven; and the Executive Vice President of Development, Governmental Affairs and Planning, Joe Chrnelich. I'll turn it over to Joe. He's going to show you what's going to happen during the upcoming season with Champ Car.

JOE CHRNELICH: Good afternoon, everybody. Before we get into the actual schedule, if I may, I'd like to make a couple general comments just to establish a base of understanding, so you have a better understanding of where our thinking is moving forward. First of all, if you recall last year when we had our unveiling, we talked about making sound business decisions as we assemble a schedule. We are maintaining that policy this year. I'm very pleased to inform all of you that the decisions we're making are paying off. We're seeing better fiscal performance as well as event performance at our venues. Today also you'll see a slight increase in the number of venues that we've added to the schedule. This is due to our policy of not announcing a race or putting it on the schedule until we have a firm deal. We think that's good for credibility and that's something we try and build on and maintain as we move forward. Heading into next year, you'll also see us moving or shifting, if you will, our self-promoted events into independent promoter hands. We think fundamentally this is a better strategy for growing an event and creating more energy at the local level. It certainly is much more in line with our business model. Lastly, I think we all would agree we are making some very significant progress, and it's showing in the level of energy, strength, and the remarkable growth at the venue level. The attendance numbers are very strong on the whole and it tells us that the Champ Car product is not only attractive, but that our business model is working. This progress, mind you, is directly attributable to our loyal family of promoters. Without them, it is very hard to rebuild this business. We'd like to at least acknowledge them publicly, let them know we're proud of them and we appreciate their performance. With that, why don't we begin the presentation? As we go through each of those, I'll make a few comments about each of our venues. (Video presentation) Obviously this year, Long Beach, there was some high drama over the future of Long Beach and Champ Car. To our delight, and just about everyone's delight, I stress just "about everyone," Mr. Champ Car and the home team prevailed, and that was good news for Champ Car. With that now complete, our new cousin, Mr. Jim Michaelian, has promised us that we will see a new energy and a higher level of performance at Long Beach than we've seen in recent years. Jim is very energized. He is very pleased to join our extended family of partners. We believe he and his team will do nothing but deliver on that promise. (Video presentation) Needless to say, folks, we are all very excited about Champ Car coming back to Houston. In particular we're very excited with our choice of venue, Reliant Park. We did a lot of research and homework down in Houston. Ultimately, with the work of our promoter, we came to the conclusion that was the best place for us to be. It gives us everything and the promoter everything we need to put on a first-class event with the backdrop of the Astrodome, the Texans stadium, and under the lights in particular should be spectacular. Speaking of promoters, as we went through this process, we had to find a promoter. Little did we know we had one right within our own Champ Car family. Right now I'd like to acknowledge and introduce our new promoter, Mr. Mike Lanigan of Mi-Jack Products. Stand and wave, please. I do want to say publicly, this would not have happened were it not for Mike Lanigan stepping up. We learned early on he was interested in the promoter business, but Mike has done a whale of a job making this happen. We certainly appreciate it and won't forget it. Also along with Mike are two of his promoter team members moving forward. One is Mr. Chuck Kosich, who some of you probably know, work with Mike for Mi-Jack. Chuck also had a history with the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix in Houston. He has a lot of historic experience which will lend a lot of strength to the effort. Also here is Robert Dale. Pretty impressive credentials from Houston. More importantly, he was the CEO and President of the Super Bowl in Houston, also lead the charge in Atlanta for the Super Bowl. He knows where the big fish are that you need to do to hook in for those events and get involved. I think Mike has really built a hell of a team for us. We'll bring them up at the end of the presentation; give you a few words on Houston. (Video presentation) Monterrey, as you know, folks, is the race that serves as our strategic linkage, if you will, to create awareness in our northern Mexico markets, but it also serves as a bridge into our Hispanic constituents in the US. This race traditionally has tremendous support from both Tecate, which is their hometown, and also the telephone giant Telmex. The way we look at this, this creates a lot of energy early on in that market as we build towards obviously the Mexico City race at the end of the year. We're delighted to be back and we've got a great promoter down there. (Video presentation) Milwaukee, as you know, has a little bit of a connection to me. We're happy to be returning again this year for the 105th, I believe, running, which is one heck of a track record, if you will, probably second only to Brett Favre's record of games played. It hurts me to say we took a big step backwards this year. It did not perform anywhere near what we had the year before. We were quite excited at the night race. Obviously, that's got our attention. As a partner, we share some of that responsibility. We went to a Saturday afternoon race for television reasons. Obviously, it did not pan out well. But we were concerned also on the promotional effort. To be sure, we're going to be working very closely next year with the promoter on their advanced marketing plans and how they're going to rebuild this because we do need to see the trend turn upward again. We all love The Mile. I know everybody in the room does. As I said, last year we had to make some tough decisions. Unless we see that trend turn up, which I have confidence we can. But if it doesn't, we're going to have to make some tough business decisions about our presence in Milwaukee. Again, we're going to, work very closely with them. We are moving the date back to Sunday, which traditionally in Milwaukee is a good attendance day. We're looking forward to that performance moving forward. (Video presentation) Speaking of history, Portland obviously holds a very warm spot in our heart. Best I could tell, that was our first race in 1909. We were very, very encouraged this year in what we saw in Portland. There was a new energy. We saw a lot of people coming back to the race. In fact, Mike is here today. He and his team did a great job of creating new business coalitions. He got the Governor and state government back involved. He also brought some sponsors. GI Joe's was terrific. We have Chevron, Intel, Red Bull, high activation mode in the market. That's the kind of signs we look for in terms of rebuilding. Mike and his team deserve a lot of credit for doing that. Next year we're already planning on a wider strategy which we find unique, which is a state-wide strategy tied to economic development. The Governor is very keen on this idea, marketing the state to bring businesses in, but also to tell businesses out there who's already there. They have some tremendous industries. We look for him and those companies to join the effort. We also, as you know, have a Pacific Rim strategy. Portland, the Port Authority in Portland, does a lot of business over there. Mike and his team are also looking at establishing linkages between our Pacific Rim events and the City of Portland. On the whole, we like what we see. It's headed the right direction. We're pretty excited about where it's headed for next year. (Video presentation) Seems a little bit like history is the theme here for a while. 25th anniversary is impressive. We think it will be a very exciting marketing vehicle for the event, but we also like what we see. This year Cleveland showed very well. I say "showed very well" because there is a difference between showing well and when you get down to the business of our business, you also have to produce well. There are some things we need to tune-up there, and we're going to do that. But we were very pleased with the job our team did in terms of reenergizing the event. It really did look good. The stands were full, the suites were up closer. A lot of people do more standing elevations for quick pit stops, things of that nature. We like what we see there. We're also encouraged. We've been getting a lot of support of letters from the government officials. One indicator in particular that's of interest to us is the sponsorships. US Bank, Sherwin-Williams, Budweiser, has spoke loud and clear. They want to step up. They want to do more. They are toying with getting involved at the series level. Those are the kinds of things we like to see. Even the Cavaliers have talked about getting more involved. That's a good sign for us. It means they want to tag on to us for some good exposure. All of these again are positive indicators. We have cautious optimism this thing is going to start to bear fruit moving forward. (Video presentation) Nobody throws a party like Molson Sports Entertainment. They put on a first-class event every year. They do a fabulous job of energizing Toronto, which is obviously one of our strongholds. Although some of our team owners may take exception to this, this year's race we think produced some of the most riveting drama, last 25 minutes of the race, that people have seen on TV in a long time. It was one of those times where we could just not leave the screen. Those are the kind of moments that tell us that our product on TV shows well and can grow our viewership base. We're also very encouraged with the merger that's now complete between Coors and Molson. We think that's going to add additional strength and some leverage in terms of growing our relationship with Coors a little bit closer. On the whole, obviously we're delighted with Toronto. We're delighted to go back. We look for nothing but even greater things out of Toronto. (Video presentation) We could say electric, incredible, amazing, astounding. Quite frankly we ran out of descriptives for that weekend event. Edmonton by all measures just blew us away. 55,000 on Friday, 67,000 in the rain on Saturday, and 78,000 on Sunday. It was truly a magnificent event. Tom, I'm not sure if he's here today, but he and Greg McDonald chased us relentlessly, if you recall, to give us a chance for Edmonton. I'll tell you, folks, they delivered on the promise. We trusted them to deliver, and they did it. The way we look at it, it is going to be a mainstay, a stronghold for Champ Car for many years to come, and actually a great model for our decisions moving forward. (Video presentation) With the pressure being on our promoter, because San Jose is a hometown of Mr. Champ Car, the Canary Fund folks delivered a winner. They obviously had Bob Singleton at the helm, one of our most seasoned promoters. Bob did a whale of a job. The Bay Area was buzzing. Not only San Jose, but you look at San Francisco, Oakland. The Grand Prix event of San Jose and Champ Car, it was out there. People were talking about it. There was excitement. I will tell you that the date -- I know we experienced some problems there logistically, obviously on the circuit, and we will work side by side with the promoter and fix that. But on the whole, we think it was a Grand Slam home run. In fact, day after the race, Mayor Gonzales, who was a little tepid going into this, wasn't sure quite would happen, grabbed Tony the next day and said, "Give me a list of what has to be improved and it will be done for next year." That's how excited he was about this. That's the power of what we can bring to a community. All the positives aside, folks, I think probably the most remarkable success indicator of that event was an article that was in a NASCAR publication. The heading on it said, "Champ Car shows NASCAR how to draw fans in northern California." That is a tremendous compliment, especially given the prominence of NASCAR and how good they are. But more importantly, that's a testament to our promoter, too. They delivered for us. In short, San Jose is going to be better every year. The wrinkles will be ironed out. That event will grow to much larger heights than even you saw this year. We're proud to be there. (Video presentation) Last year, I don't know if you were aware, but we had co-promoted this race with Centrix Financial. From the outside looking in, it was a great race and quite a success. As I mentioned earlier, behind the scenes we knew we had a lot of things to fix. As part of our shift towards a traditional model, we met with Bob Sutton and his team and put the proposition on the table that they take full control of the event as an independent promoter. Bob agreed to step up. Since that time, the Centrix team has done an amazing job. Last year there were six sponsors. This year they had 56. All the suites have been sold out. They were building new ones to try to keep up with additional demand. Ticket sales are very brisk and healthy. Now that we're into the weekend event here, the look of the event is improved over last year. It's crisp, it's first-class. That, again, is a credit to Bob and his team. We think Denver is going to be a great market long-term for us. Certainly all the excitement leading up months before this, Champ Car and the Grand Prix got the attention of the Denver market. Those are the elements we look for and those are the things we need to feed our promoter and help them continue to maintain. We're delighted to be here. This is going to be a great weekend. Certainly, it's long-term for us. (Video presentation) Well, obviously we're very pleased to be going back to Montreal again. It's a charming city, great setting, and great circuit. The thing I'm not sure if you're aware of, this year marks the return of our former promoter, Norman Legault. Norman, if you don't know him, is one of the sons of Montreal, one of the most respected men in that city. But he's also one of the most respected, experienced F1 men in the world. He is a terrific individual, very seasoned, and the fact that he has come back on to our team I think speaks volumes for the business plan, the vision that Kevin and the owners have established as well as the philosophy that we as a management team has adopted. He's linked on to that. He has told me all indications are this year is going to be a great, reenergized event in Montreal. We're delighted to have him back in the family. (Video presentation) Well, if you haven't noticed, we've added Las Vegas onto the schedule with an asterisk. The purpose of that, and the reason we put it up there, is both Chris from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and I agreed we would hold off until we talk after this year's event. Obviously, this combined event is a different approach for us. The objective or the goal was to see if we can't somehow help attract those 80,000 fans for that race into Champ Car fans. We've only had one year, we had some hiccups last year in terms of the transition between the events. Chris has worked very hard to make sure that transition time is minimal, at best, so we get right into the Champ Car event. But we will sit down afterwards, talk about it and see how it performed. We need to talk about the economics of it from Champ Car's perspective. At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, Champ Car will be in the Las Vegas market long-term. It's a market we are in and will stay in. (Video presentation) Obviously, our business model, as Kevin has articulated many times over, it puts a strong focus on the Pacific Rim. Korea plays a very important part of that plan. Now, I know there's a lot of trepidation out in the public about is the race going to come off, because obviously it didn't last year. We've been working very closely with the promoter to make sure it does happen. But what we can tell you candidly, we try to do that as a matter of course with all of you, is working on the new venue all the way around the globe with language barriers and time zone barriers is a very challenging task. Obviously, it's something we have to fine tune because we're going to be doing a lot more of that. But safe to say it is a challenge. We're working with it. The reason we're very confident we'll get it done and done right is because we believe we have the best staff in the world. We've done long-distance events, very talented. We will not let the promoter fail. We're looking forward to getting there for the first inaugural event. Kevin and I visited, had quite a welcome for the ground-breaking ceremony. We're anxious to be there. We are looking forward to being there next year as well. (Video presentation) Well, our race at Surfers, folks, hands down is the most dynamic event production on our schedule, second to none. It has grown to be the single largest event in Australia, second to none. The one problem we have there is we're running out of room in Surfers Paradise for more people. Some of you have been there, it's an amazing event. We're happy to be a part of it obviously, and it shows our pride very well. The fans there love our product. Obviously, we're happy to be back in Australia. We can't wait get to get there. (Video presentation) As you see on the schedule, that's our season finale. It's in the largest population center of Mexico. Our promoter partner down there does a great job, absolutely great job, of driving attendance. That's why they hold the attendance record in the series. The citizens of Mexico, if you don't know it, are terribly passionate about our product, but even more so about their drivers. In fact, that's one of our challenges moving forward. We need to identify and develop more top-flight Mexican drivers to get into our series, and we're doing that. What you can also expect to see is a lot more your long-term promotion of Champ Car and our brand. We need to expand the awareness, make sure that they see us year long because that does pay dividends here in the US because of the Hispanic demographic. Obviously, it's a premiere destination, we're happy to be there, going to be there a long time. In closing, if I may, I want you to know we feel we have made a lot of progress in a very short period of time. By no means have we everything fixed. We have a lot to fix. We're going to do this. We're going to rebuild this brick by brick. More importantly, relative to the schedule, what I want you to know is it's not so much how many races we get on the schedule, as it is how healthy is the schedule itself and the venues drop. If the venues are healthy, the promoter is economically sound, we're economically sound with the equation, it's good for the city; that's going to be a strength in the schedule. We'll always move things around and adjust a little bit, but our goal is to build strength in the schedule, not necessarily length of the schedule by number of venues. We'll continue to grow incrementally one or two here or there, but at the end of the day the focus is health of each of the venues. Lastly, I just want to thank you for being here today. Before we go to question and answer, we'd like to invite our new promoters up to say a word about Houston.

MICHAEL LANIGAN: Some of you people that may or may not know me, they call me Big Bear, they call me the heavy set guy; they also call me the guy from Mi-Jack. I go back to racing with open-wheel as a sponsor since 1992 and as an owner the past several years. When this opportunity came up with Kevin and Joe, I enthusiastically believed in it. I believe in the City of Houston, I believe in Champ Car, and I believe in the model that Champ Car is doing. On that, if you have any questions, we're going to have a kickoff in September. We'd be more than happy to answer those at that time. Thank you.

JOE CHRNELICH: We'll open the floor for questions for all three gentlemen up here.

Q. Will there be any additional races added the next year's schedule?

JOE CHRNELICH: As I mentioned earlier, there is a possibility of maybe an additional race coming on. What we do is, we constantly restate, we will not put a race on unless we have a firm deal. So there is a possibility, but if it doesn't happen, we are very comfortable with the schedule as its being presented.

Q. There have been announcements from Champ Car about racing in China, it is not on the schedule now but will we see it added?

JOE CHRNELICH: Absolutely. Again, that speaks back to the process. But for those of you who haven't been to China, Kevin and I have, it is a very different culture. How they do business, they're quite frankly catching up to global standards on how you do business. Our discussions are very, very deliberate, painstaking at times because they are very detailed in nature and they want to learn. But we have not completed those discussions. Until we get those done and they're satisfied and we're satisfied, we're not going to be in a position to announce.

MODERATOR: Kevin, take us through your overall thoughts for the schedule and what it took to put those together, please.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Sure. First of all, one of the things that is kind of great about the job that Dick Eidswick has done is the way he's built the management team inside Champ Car and continues to develop that. Joe was a relatively new addition to the company and has done a fantastic job of developing the schedule. I can't even remember when we released the schedule last year, but it was some horrific date. Here we are August the 15th, exactly as Joe promised us, we would have the schedule. We have 15 races signed. We have the potential of more. I have to congratulate him on just doing a fantastic job. For those of you who think that what we do is just road races, I'd remind you that we've actually got five track events, if you like. We've got three airport/temporary and we've got five road races and two ovals. In fact, what we've got is a series that still continues its tradition of being very, very varied and very tough on the drivers. Guys who can win in these environments really are winners in every sense of the word. The one thing, though, we are finding, and I think it's obvious, is if we bring racing close to the urban centers, whether it's a track like Montreal, which is very close to the center, or whether it's a street circuit, and if you turn it into a three-day festival, the fans will come, the families will come. That actually is kind of one of the important things. We're creating new fans as we go along. That fan base is developing very, very rapidly. People say, "Well, does that really matter if there are new fans?" Well, sure it does. "Well, they're not real race fans because they just come for the fun." Well, that's it; they're coming for the fun. What's wrong with that, guys? You don't have to stand out in some mud-ridden field to watch cars come by. You can come out, have a great deal of fun, see the new sort of series we're doing. It's not just street racing. It's this urban festival that's bringing racing closer to the urban centers and allowing the growth in the new families, which in turn will generate additional television watching and in turn will generate new sponsors. The rate of sponsor activity is certainly increasing. If you just look at the number here in Denver, from a very small number to in excess of 50 in one year is indicative of the acceptance of the sponsor base of this strategy. It's been argued equally that it's kind of a shame that we're leaving behind some of the history of Champ Car, some of the old circuits. Well, that's life. Nothing stays as it does. There's nothing that's fixed in life. It evolves, it grows and it develops. That is very much part of the strategy that we have here in Champ Car, is this growth and this evolution. We could just not rely on the history of the series because we had seen that that was not necessarily a winning formula. The winning formula we've got is, again, this urban approach, bringing racing to the centers or close to the centers, and allowing entire families to come, and allowing the fan base to grow, which in turn will complete the prosperity of both the city, the promoters, and our own race series that we love so much. So that's what we did.

THE MODERATOR: Dick, your thoughts?

DICK EIDSWICK: Well, I think Kevin has covered the philosophy pretty well. You know, I, too, commend Joe on the enormous amount of work it takes to put these races together. If you just multiply the number of races times three to five trips per race, you get an idea why he's set the record for the air mileage this year. He's really put together a major effort. What we have done is we've set the platform of how we're going to build in the future. Some of the new races, particularly the foreign races, which we discussed earlier, will take more than just contract negotiations. We have to build those markets. We have to build those as Champ Car markets, markets that are good on television, markets that are good in attendance, markets that know who Champ Car is and want us to come back and will come to the race in droves like we've seen this year. So I think we're on a roll. We really feel good about the way we're putting Champ Car together, and I think that you're going to see more of the same in the future.

Q. What is the maximum number of races we will see on the schedule?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: I think we've stated that we consider 16 races as a good number. We also believe that at least half of them must be in the United States, and we will continue that. If we go to 18, which is possible as the series evolves, cities are literally actually amazingly enough competing to have us come to their cities now. That's a heck of a change in 18 months, which again is a remarkable achievement on behalf of Joe. We could get 18 over. Again, a minimum of half of them will be in the United States. That's part of our policy.

Q. Is Champ Car helping to promote the Cleveland event? And what benefits are there to announcing the schedule this early?

JOE CHRNELICH: Your first question, we're working with several interested parties in Cleveland, in terms of a promoter group, one of which is integrated with our current group that's heading up Rena's team. We're working towards that. That obviously is our business model. We're in the self-promotion position because January of '04, coming out of court, Kevin and the owners said, "Hey, we got to put on a series and we have to have venues." Not all of them were firm with promoters. That's how it started going that direction. Actually, it was that direction even prior to Kevin and the owners coming on board. Our business model is to have an independent promoter, the series, and the city, the city being a large umbrella. Those are your three participants for a successful venue. That's the direction we want to work. In terms of the schedule coming out early, I tell you that the series has never had an owner like Kevin. When Kevin says, "I want it early," we get that done. Actually, the rationale behind it is when you get the schedule out early, the teams can start planning for it. Sponsors can start planning for it. It has in essence a domino effect in motion, if you will, for people to begin dialogue about the next year. Right now, everybody is working on the budgets. Corporations, teams want to be in there. We want to be in there. You have to tell them where we're going to be so they can identify: Is that a good market for us or not? There are a lot of reasons to have the schedule out early. You can expect this to be the case moving forward.

Q. The have been rumors of Champ Car racing in Philadelphia, what are the chances of that happening?

JOE CHRNELICH: Firstly, I'll tell you if you've never visited a town with Paul Newman, you've got to try it. He's an amazing man and has an amazing impact on people. It was like a Hollywood story when you arrived at City Hall with the attention. That's the beauty of our No. 1 ambassador. We visited at the request of the city, and they had asked us to put together an assessment on a circuit and viability of the race, which we reported on there. We have done that. The meeting went very well. There were no negatives -- no people pulling in an opposite direction. That was what we walked away with. However, whenever you deal with a city of that size, these people are elected officials, they have to talk with their constituents; they have to go to their touchstones before they make a final decision. That's what's going on right now. We're continuing to provide them information. We're on-call to go back to have meetings with people so we can explain to the people what it's like to have an event, what impact they can expect, the positives, kind of subside some of the fears that people have initially, the thought of a car going 200 miles an hour past their house. That's a long explanation, but we're making progress. The one thing you can expect out of us, we will be very patient in our decisions of our venues. We rush into a decision, force it, try and jam it through, that is maybe a good short-term value, but in the long-term we're going to pay dearly for it. We'll be patient and it will tell us, quite frankly, if it's for real next year or if it will work further out.

Q. There are gaps in the schedule in April and September on the schedule, are you looking to fill those this season?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: You know, you're really very good with your questions (laughter). The answer is, yes, there are gaps which we obviously will need to fill. It doesn't take too much imagination to work that out. We've got to finish the year with a highlight in the United States. Hopefully we'll be able to announce that sometime.

Q. Ford has been involved in a variety of events, do you expect them to increase their involvement?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Their level of involvement actually has been quite remarkable, particularly in some of the events that are in, say, places like Canada, where at Edmonton they were very, very strong. We are working with Ford to get greater activation here in the United States as well, and they're being very cooperative with helping us. We have good relationships with Ford at the senior level. They're just continuing to evolve.

Q. When can we expect to see the television schedule announced?

DICK EIDSWICK: We'll probably have the TV schedule out within four weeks. It is, as you say, a very important component of what we need to get to the teams, their sponsors, our sponsors, and we're working on it right now. We're trying to close up a couple of dates. We should have it done soon.

Q. What should we expect to see on the television schedule?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: No. No hints. Any other questions (laughter)? By the way, no rumors either.

DICK EIDSWICK: We're trying to add one or two more races on network if we can get them. It's the coordination of the network times available versus the race start times.

Q. How are things progressing toward having a race in Japan?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Actually we have a gentleman here from Japan who can tell us a little more. Come here, Hiroshi. It's new is to put somebody else on the spot. Is it rumor or fact he's from Japan? It's definitely a fact.

HIROSHI NAKAJIMA: My name is Hiroshi Nakajima. I worked with Kevin and Dick and Joe about Japanese involvement, Japanese venue hopefully for 2007. As a matter of fact, last week we brought Jim from Long Beach to Japan and we spent a weekend there. We had a press conference in Tokyo at the Imperial Hotel, along with the mayor of Long Beach as a special guest. We made Otaru as a city that is trying to host a Champ Car race. They elected Champ Car as their event. They had several different choices, starting with Formula One, our touring car races, but they elected the Champ Car because Champ Car made more sense with their business model. That actually happened on Monday, the press conference in Tokyo. We announced there's going to be an effort to bring Champ Car into Japan in '07. That was the official announcement. About 50 media people showed up to the press conference. We made a very positive impression about that press conference. Hopefully it's going to happen in 2007. We don't know the racetrack or we don't know exactly which date it's going to be, but we're still working on it. We're working with a lot of possible corporate sponsors. Hopefully it will happen in two years.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: It is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. I was there in March of this year. It is an absolutely gorgeous site, it really is. If we can pull it off; this thing, it will be just a beautiful place.

JOE CHRNELICH: Kevin liked the sake factory the best.

HIROSHI NAKAJIMA: I thought he was going to buy the factory (laughter).

Q. What city are you looking at for the race?

HIROSHI NAKAJIMA: The city is called Otaru, in Hokkaido prefecture. It's right next to Sapporo, which is the northern part of Japan. Japan is the small island, and it's the second biggest island on the northern part. There's a city called Sapporo. It's the fifth largest city in Japan. Right next to it that's the city called Otaru. That's the city planning to host Champ Car.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: It's a beautiful resort city. Sapporo of course hosted the Olympics a few years ago. It's got a great infrastructure for hotels.

HIROSHI NAKAJIMA: It is a growing city.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Isn't it great there's a city called Sapporo that makes great beer and Otaru has a great sake factory. Is there something happening here (laughter)?

Q. By having two events in May are you discouraging your teams from entering the Indianapolis 500?

DICK EIDSWICK: I think we're making our decisions independent of other series. We're doing what we think is best for Champ Car and for our teams, our sponsors, drivers.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Good thing he didn't allow me to answer that question (laughter).

MODERATOR: Closing comments from Champ Car.

JOE CHRNELICH: I'll just tell you I'm very happy we finally got this announced. There's a lot of work that goes into it. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support of Kevin, Dick, our organization behind it. This doesn't happen with one person, it happens with a lot of people's participation. There's a lot of work ahead yet. As I said, you may see a surprise - maybe not. We'll keep working on '07 and beyond that. That never ends. Hopefully all of you can appreciate our candor. We're trying to make sure we are very clear in our direction so you understand it. Certainly appreciate the turnout today.

MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.



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