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NASCAR Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Media Conference

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
October 3, 2006

ERIC MAUK: Welcome everyone today to our Champ Car Media Teleconference. As most of you are aware, the Champ Car World Series released its 2007 schedule. We released that yesterday at an event in Las Vegas. Those of you on the media should already have that. Those of you that don't call me at 317-715-4133 and I will make sure to get you a copy of that schedule to you. It is a 15-race schedule featuring four new venues.
Today on the teleconference we're honored to be joined by Champ Car President Steve Johnson, and Vice-president of Venue Development John Clagett.
For opening remarks, I'd like to go ahead and turn things over to Mr. Johnson. Steve.
STEVE JOHNSON: Thank you. I want to tell everybody good morning or good afternoon depending on where you are. I am calling in from Las Vegas; sitting here looking over the strip on a beautiful sunny day. What a monumental week for Champ Car this week with the announcement of securing the Phoenix event. Announcing our schedule here in Vegas, the city of entertainment, and it's just -- you can't of asked for a better week for us.
I am very proud to go through many of our accomplishments, but in an effort to be able to answer as many questions as possible, I think I will wait until we get those questions.
At this time I would like to turn over the -- some remarks from John Clagett who's really been instrumental in putting this schedule together. John has been involved with Champ Car for many years, with the TransAm series, and has really come out and done a great job for us.
John, why don't you give us some remarks.
KENT JOHNSON: Steve, thank you. Rather than going through the schedule round by round, I will offer some highlights of what is new.
The schedule opens and closes with inaugural events in Las Vegas and Phoenix respectively. Champ Cars will visit historic Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada for the first time since 1968. And Champ Car will be breaking new ground by becoming the first major American sports organization to hold a regular season event in mainland China.
Champ Car tradition abounds with Cleveland with its 26th annual running; Road America hosting its 25th Champ Car race; Long Beach and Portland both with their 24th annual races. Toronto will be hosting its 22nd annual and 2007 season will mark Surfer's Paradise 17th annual run as one of the world's best attended motor sport events.
The 2007 schedule will no doubt be challenging with ten temporary course circuits; four road courses in five different countries spread over nine months.
I will note that the series has closed later than the December 2nd for Phoenix on at least five occasions; the last time being 1969 when Mario Andretti won at Riverside.
Discussion continues with respect to two events that are likely for the month of September, with details to be released in the near future.
We're delighted to welcome to the Champ Car promoter family Dale Jensen and Bradley Yonover in the Vegas and Phoenix project respectively. Elliot Friedman (ph) and his team including France Quorbay (ph) at FRC USA in China, and Lawrence Stroll and his team at Mont-Tremblant.
We have put together what we believe is a solid schedule that will provide great racing for our fans as well as strong challenges for the teams and drivers, and when combined with the arrival of the new Panoz DP01 we're pleased and feel we have great momentum going forward.
Without further delay Eric, Steve, let us open it up to questions.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you, gentlemen. Just for the record, the 1969 event that John referenced, Riverside, December 7 Mario Andretti won at Riverside capping a championship season for the four-time National Champion. We will take questions from the media now.

Q. Steve, I have a question for you. If I play devil's advocate for a second and look at this schedule and all of the new places you are going, and so forth, this does no look like a series that's about to enter a merger with the IRL. Can you tell me why I am wrong on that?
STEVE JOHNSON: Jim, that's a great question. I am running the business of Champ Car. I am not running the business of trying to put a merger together. So, I took to our board what I felt was the best schedule that I have seen Champ Car have in many years. The board is very supportive of it, and agrees that it's not only challenging for our drivers, but it's going to be great for our fans as well, and again, it -- from a merger standpoint, my focus is and continues to be running the business of the Champ Car World Series, and if anything were to happen with a merger, we'll see how that fits in down the road.

Q. Steve, although in many ways I'd like to focus on the American side and the growth there, there is the international side, the China race. Could you just talk a little bit about the infrastructure involving the China race and if there's any further comment you could make about the much rumored European races for September?
STEVE JOHNSON: Absolutely, Gordon and you and I talk a lot at the races every weekend so I probably tell you a lot of stuff absolutely. As far as China goes, it's a beautiful facility at Zhuhai which is a shorter ferry ride from Hong Kong and it close to Makal. It's right there. The infrastructure is in place. They have got a very secure and stable management team at the track. It's a gorgeous track surrounded by golf courses and hotels, and they put on major events - everything from GT races to motorcycles, and they are very excited to bring the Champ Car World Series to China. We have got full support of the government of Zhuhai, and the mayor and they are, again, equally as excited and are willing to promote and support the event. So we feel very confident that China is going to be a very big success. I'd say our biggest challenge is going to be educating the Chinese fans on what Champ Car is and there are a couple identified champ -- potential Champ Car drivers that are Chinese drivers, that we're going to hopefully give some testing to because we would love to have a Chinese driver in our series.
Your other questions on Europe? Yeah, we're in negotiations right now.
I think that's not a surprise. We're not ready to announce anything but we're getting very close, and we would like to bring Champ Car back to Europe and September would be a good month to do that since it's open for us and we have got a couple of dates highlighted there. So I'd just say stay tuned, I would expect closure on that as soon as hopefully a week to two weeks. I might be a little aggressive on that but that's our plan right now.

Q. We could have actually six new races this year?
STEVE JOHNSON: Correct. We could have six.
Exactly. The good thing is it's not by people that don't understand us. I would be very concerned if (1) we had to build race tracks similar to Korea where there wasn't a racetrack and/or these were promoters and management teams that didn't know the because of Champ Car. So in all instances, they know Champ Car. They know what it takes to put the events on and we're prepared from a staff standpoint to tackle this challenge to make sure that we deliver the best events possible.

Q. I think it's probably the first time in history that there's no ovals on the schedule. I wonder if you could maybe comment on that and talk about whether that's going to be a permanent omission?
STEVE JOHNSON: We don't have any ovals on this schedule because they didn't make good business sense for us. It's not that we're anti ovals and won't run on an oval. We had Milwaukee, for those that were there, we didn't have enough fans to show up to make it a good business case to be there. The same thing when we raced in Las Vegas on the oval last year, you know, we encountered the same thing. So if somebody -- a promoter can come to us and we can develop a business model that is successful for all parties on an oval, we would be happy to look at it. We're not against ovals and just currently at this time does not make good business sense for us.

Q. Following up on what the gentleman from the L.A. Times asked, it was certainly reported in the press that in the last few months there was some talk about running some potential twin dates with the IRL. That's obviously not going to happen. Can you confirm whether there actually were discussions to that end?
STEVE JOHNSON: John, I am not sure if there were. I wasn't in those. I heard, you know, exactly what you guys have heard. I think there might have been a lot of wishful thing. But in our planning - and we have been planning this schedule - as we're working on 2008 right now, it has never been a directive to me to run a doubleheader with the IRL. So I think it was a lot of wishful thinking on some peoples' parts but was not part of our plan.

Q. I don't know if I have missed something or whether it just simply hasn't been finalized yet, but again, the rumor or the speculation was that there would be some doubleheaders with the ALMS in 2007. The places I heard were Long Beach, Houston and the Elkart Lake date. Wondered if you -- anybody can make a comment about that?
STEVE JOHNSON: David, I think to be fair to the American Le Mans Series who is announcing their schedule tomorrow, I believe. Will the ALMS be with us on several dates? The answer is yes. Without letting the cat out of the bag, you were pretty good on probably where you think they might be. But I will let them announce their schedule, but you know, we enjoy running with the American Le Mans Series. We think it's a good compliment, and we'll just see how that pans out.

Q. Focusing on the July 1st race at San Jovite. One question in the list of the new promoters joining the series I didn't hear unless I miss -- unless I wasn't listening closely I didn't hear Allen's name and I wondered if he's involved in that race and I guess the second question is, you know, I think it -- most people who have been there would agree that it is one of the most challenging exciting race tracks in North America if not the world but again there are -- and again I know the place was -- did undergo extensive refurbishing around about 2000, 2001, I wondered if there are any thoughts about the -- you know, frankly the safety issues at the track?
STEVE JOHNSON: Obviously safety is always a No. 1 concern and Tony, our senior VP of Operations was there yesterday, and called me and he gave me his assessment and one of his -- he said, I guarantee you, this may be our drivers' favorite track when they get out here. He says this is a driver's track. He was very excited about it. He said there are some, I guess, some, not safety issues at all, but there are some things they are going to have to do to race to our standards which they are very willing to do. Things like catch fencing, some of those things are missing right now. They have -- the track has, like you said, I think, one, they went through and they reconfigured and there are some more modifications that they are going to have to make, but Tony said it's going to be a great venue to hold a Champ Car event.
As far as promoters go I really -- we have -- we're working with Lords (ph) who obviously owns the event, and it really comes down to what he's doing. I believe he and his team are going to be the ones that are going to be promoting this. He's very excited to become part of Champ Car. He came and met with us in Montreal, and actually he kind of cut his vacation short just to fly in to meet with us. I think he's going to be a great partner for the Champ Car World Series.
As far as Allen, I don't know if Allen is going to have a play in that. That's up to the promoter, up to Lords.

Q. Steve, I am sure you have heard a comment from our sheriff out here in Phoenix, Joe Arpaio. He said this morning on the radio that if the cars make too much noise going by his call center he is going to call out his tanks and stop the race. I am wondering how you react to a comment like that?
STEVE JOHNSON: Well, I don't know Sheriff Joe personally but I know sheriff Joe is quite a character and had many meetings with our people. We have an expert in sound study that has put together a plan that guarantees us that there will be no noise issues at the 911 Center so we're not concerned about that. At the City Council meeting this week when we got the vote to move forward in Phoenix, they went through the entire plan on what they were going to do and even showed diagrams of how they would keep the noise out of the call center. So we're not concerned with that. We think Sheriff Joe is going to end up being a huge supporter of the event. Maybe we could have him throw the green flag or use his tank to pace the race or something.

Q. I am sure you know back in the late 80s early 90s we had three Formula 1 races here. None were successful in the slightest. Why do you think Champ Car races might be successful as opposed to the F-I?
STEVE JOHNSON: 40 degrees Fahrenheit will make it a little bit easier. They were running in the middle of June during the day when we are going to be there, you know, in late November. And it is not apples to apples. Our business model is completely different. It is not just a race that we're going to be bringing to Phoenix. There's concerts, boxing match. Going to be the taste of Phoenix. We're doing some things with car shows and Jackson, it goes on and on. That's part of our three- day festival. It's not apples to apples.
Now I can tell you at the City Council meeting that question came up and the city manager who was involved and who has done a lot of research from the city's standpoint, he defended the Formula 1 races there and said in fact, the races depending on how you measure success at the end of the day were still profitable for the city of Phoenix. I wasn't there for it. I can only hear the stories. But we're bringing an entirely different business model. It a different day and we know the event is going to be successful. We also have a great promoter with Dale Jensen who is the owner of the Diamondbacks, who has taken obviously great interest in the Downtown area in revitalizing it. He's committed as anyone I have seen from a promoter standpoint.

Q. There was some talk about maybe having an event at California Speedway in Fontana since IRL pulled out of that race. There's no racing there with the open-wheel cars right now. Was there any negotiations with Fontana and is there still a possibility of maybe you having two races in Southern California?
STEVE JOHNSON: There has not been any negotiations at all with them. Would we be against doing it? The answer is no. But again it'd got to make good business sense for the promoter, the track and for the Champ Car World Series as well as our sponsors, and I'd be happy to sit down and discuss anything with California Speedway.

Q. Any reaction from Long Beach losing their inaugural spot on the schedule?
STEVE JOHNSON: There actually hasn't. And Long Beach has for several years asked to be the No. 2 race. So I know they are very happy about it and actually I am off to Long Beach here in a couple of hours to have dinner with a new mayor of Long Beach this evening. I think it -- we'll be able to make this, I think, proactively help Long Beach and use the first race to promote the Long Beach race which is the next weekend.

Q. Steve, first of all, congratulations on restoring three races in Canada. Talk about why the Montreal Quebec market is so important to Champ Car and why you needed to make sure that you had a race reestablished -- it's not Downtown though but talk about why the series thought it was important to retain the Montreal Quebec market?

STEVE JOHNSON: Some of the greatest fans we have are in that area for Champ Car and we feel that we owe it to our fans that have supported us. It not the fans' fault that we're not back in Montreal. Had nothing to do with the fans or the support we got or the welcome from the city. It was a place that we really considered home and we felt that Quebec was a great home for us as well. So it was important for us to tell our fans we appreciate everything that you have done for us. We're not going to abandon you even though that we felt that the promoter somewhat abandoned us, but that's a different topic. We're going to support you. We're going to be there bigger and better than ever.
As far as Canada goes, we're even looking for possibly more expansion in Canada. We think it's a great market for us, and we're going to look obviously in Vancouver in the future again once the Olympics are over so I could see us down the road having four races Canada.
Q. John, following up on what Steve was just saying about additional markets, I know that Ottawa for a moment there was mentioned as a possibility of inheriting the Montreal race. What about the city of Ottawa and can you tell us if there are other cities other than Ottawa that may be on the horizon for additional Canadian dates?
KENT JOHNSON: There are. There are that have expressed interest. But until they are ready to make a public stance as to their intent, I think we just leave it that there are multiple scenarios there. Ottawa is one. You have mentioned that. But the others we'll leave for them to decide when to come public with it. But to say that there's more than one is definitely true.

Q. Can you tell to the Mexican audience what happen to the race in Monterey?
STEVE JOHNSON: Be happy to. The promoter being Osessa (ph) has come to us and said they want to focus on Mexico City. They felt that the Monterey race was taking away from the Mexico City race and they wanted to put all their efforts into Mexico City. So they gave us a plan, a business plan on how they were going to do that, and we support it. They are putting all their effort; the sponsors are stepping up more. I think we're going to see a great Mexico City. They just felt that Mexico City and Monterey were somewhat cannibalizing each other and the efforts that the promoter wsa putting into it and so they had asked us to not come back to Monterey.

Q. What is going on with the Mexican drivers in 2007, any talks of names?
STEVE JOHNSON: There are. Obviously with Mario Dominguez is stepping up, there's some rumors and I can't substantiate them at this time, that David Martinez may be stepping up into Champ Car as well, and looks like there might be a couple more Mexican drivers coming into the Atlantic Series which obviously is our development series. So I think it looks very good for Mexican drivers in 2007 for the Champ Car World Series which I think is great for our series.

Q. Steve, in recent past there was a rumor about Philadelphia, San Antonio - there were about two or three - are those subjects definitely out or --
STEVE JOHNSON: Actually, San Antonio has come back to us and they just were not able to do it for 2007. You can't rush into that type of an event. It's got to be planned, otherwise it is going to have a bad ending, so San Antonio has come back and they would like us to look at putting them possibly on for 2008. We said we would definitely look at that and work with them in their efforts.
As far as Philadelphia goes, we haven't made much progress there so I am not overly hopeful in Philadelphia. One, we don't even have a promoter. That's one of the keys you have to have a promoter in place on the ground that's doing all the leg work. We never had one. That has been the biggest thing missing there.

Q. Would you predict that Champ Car will present 25 cars?
STEVE JOHNSON: I am not going to say 25 cars, but I am going to say we will present more than 20, but I have had -- I could tell you I have had more phone calls in the last few weeks from potential new teams wanting packets of information on the car, and expressing interest in our series. So I'd say if we get more than 20 I think everybody would agree that's going to be a good start, but could we be that high? I think the answer is, you know, if all the stars were lined up correctly yes, we could be there 23, 24 cars.
Q. Two race in Europe, they are rosey --

Q. They are rosey, possibility?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think the possibility is getting better by the day, and we're encouraged but until we have contracts signed and we have inspected the race tracks, we're not going to announce anything because I -- we have got, unfortunately, in the past we have been pulling races off of the schedule and I don't want us to do that. I want to be able to announce things and keep them on our schedule.

Q. Steve, attendance in Portland has been down the last few years although it came up on race day this season. How tenuous was Portland's spot on the schedule?
STEVE JOHNSON: I think it was very tenuous. I met with Mike Nealy. I came in and met with many people in the city. I can tell you, it's a great market. The city is committed. Some of the sponsors there are very committed to us and the fans are committed. So we know we can make it work. The attendance was up about 20%, I believe, over last year; which I can tell you, if that wouldn't have happened, if we didn't have a successful Portland last year, it would not have made the schedule for this year, but they really -- they stepped up -- the fans stepped up, and showed that they support Champ Car and we're expecting even bigger and better race in Portland this year.

Q. It's also my understanding that the American Le Mans Series is not going to be coming back to Portland next year. Did you talk with the ALMS people about running a doubleheader there?
STEVE JOHNSON: We have talked about it. Again, I can't speak on behalf of them, whether they are coming back or not. All I can tell you is we're not going to abandon our fans in Portland and we'll be back there and we really look forward to it because it is a great facility. It's a great town. It's a great destination. We've just got to get more people out and more sponsor involvement which I think we can do.

Q. Can you confirm that Champ Car intends to return to Laguna Seca for spring training March 8, 9 or 9, 10; if so, why and how many and which teams do you expect to attend?
STEVE JOHNSON: I know we're going back -- I know we're going to Laguna Seca for spring training - I am not sure -- I don't have the dates in front of me. Tony would have that. When we do that, most of the teams -- I guarantee, all the teams will be there because they are going to need as much testing as they can with this new car. So it's going to be -- it will be quite a show at Laguna Seca.

Q. Can you repeat the dates?
VOICE: I have been told March 8, 9 or 9, 10.
VOICE: I believe that's correct. It's going to be three days of testing.

Q. Following up, your schedule starts strong but seems to peter out at the end with a two-month gap between Denver then Surfer's Paradise, and then one race each the final three months. Is there a chance that you are going to add to a schedule; if not, what are your concerns about what that is going to do for the
STEVE JOHNSON: We're planning on adding them. Our plan right now is we would like to add two races in September. We're in negotiations right now with several venues and promoters. So just stay tuned. I think we're a couple weeks away from filling in the gap.

Q. Is Laguna Seca one of them in September?
STEVE JOHNSON: No. We're racing there in San Jose and we're just not going to do that to that market.

Q. The San Jose event was much improved this year. What additional changes do you see for 2007?
STEVE JOHNSON: That would be a great question to ask Tony and the group. I haven't reviewed the track since and we, quite frankly, haven't gotten that far. We're working closely with the promoter on, you know, the business side of it, and adding more activities for our fans to get involved with. So I think it was a great event this year. And it just had that -- it almost had the feeling of Long Beach to me. It was just -- the excitement was there for only its second year, you know, we're going to continue to see that improve and I know Don Lisman (ph) who is the promoter was very excited with it and there's a guy that's full of energy and ideas so I can only imagine what is going to happen this year.

Q. Any chance that Champ Car could return to Laguna Seca and keep San Jose on the calendar say at opposite ends of the season?
STEVE JOHNSON: I think -- I am never one to say there's not a chance, so -- but it is not anything that we have considered at this time, but I don't rule anything out. Right now our focus in that market though is that race in San Jose and we really think it could be one of our crown jewels, and sure felt that way after year two.

Q. I know there was a lot of controversy in Phoenix. You did make a change to the date - pushed it back into December, December 2. Talking from the previous question about the spacing out, there -- even with the two races being in September, you still got a lot of space in there toward the end of the schedule. Is there a plan for the future to try to tighten that up a little bit?
STEVE JOHNSON: Mark, there is. In '08 our event moves back into November the week before Thanksgiving in Phoenix, so yeah, we would like to move it back, but in fairness of getting the Phoenix race done and working with all parties and making a win/win situation, we agreed to those date.

Q. Pushing it back into November, doesn't that cause the same problem that you have now with the NASCAR race or are they going to move their date?
STEVE JOHNSON: We're not sure what they are going to do but they agreed to a two-week separation for 2008.

Q. How close are you to announcing a TV schedule and can you comment at all about that?
STEVE JOHNSON: We're in deep negotiations right now with several partners. So I can't comment other than we're working on it and to give you an exact date I don't know when it is going to be done. I would like to have it done within two weeks, but when you are negotiating like this, it is somewhat difficult.
Q. Any anticipation of more network races next year?
STEVE JOHNSON: No, I don't think we'll see more network races but I think you will see a different television strategy. What we're really looking for is consistency and continuity and instead of doing what is it going to be this year not knowing, we need partners that are with us and we can do a three- or a five-year deal so everybody knows when they can watch us and where they can watch us and I think that's one thing that has been missing every year we change and come up with something different. We got to stop doing that.

Q. It looks like they are going to announce a NASCAR Bush race for Montreal for some time in August. That was delayed actually, the announcement as you probably know. There's been some discussion that the Indy Racing League may or may not be starting to get some discussions going on sharing that weekend which would bring the rival league onto Canadian soil for the first time. As I say the answer is probably who cares, basically but is that any concern to the Champ Car World Series that the rival league may be coming into Canadian soil, into a market --
STEVE JOHNSON: If I were to say it's not a concern I'd be lying. Any time you give a competitor a toe hold into a marketplace that you have had, is always a worry, so we just have to do it better, do it bigger and be very aggressive and one of the keys was we have to be there first, obviously, and that's one of the reasons why we'll be there in July. And the open-wheel fans, the Champ Car fans will come out and support us. I know it because that's the way they are. With the IRL going there I am sure the Bush Series will be the lead series; the IRL will be positioned as the support series, if they go there and you know, that's okay. We just have to do a great job for our fans, so they realize that again we didn't abandon them and we're there for the long haul.

Q. With the race at San Jovite at Mont-Tremblant you are now going to have to do the promotion from the standpoint of what you do basically in Portland and in Road America where you have got to persuade fans who used to have a race basically in their own backyard in the city; now to drive an hour and a half outside the city. Is there an adjustment in mind to work with the promoter to make sure that that happens effectively because it is a bit of a different marketing stance to have to do it that way?
STEVE JOHNSON: Absolutely. Lawrence Stroll who owns it, he understand that. We talked about that and I think we have got to come up with some incentive to -- and we owe it to our fans to get them to come out. We'll come up with something I am sure very creative but that's going to be a great weekend. I could only imagine when we're sitting there with 22, 23 cars running around that's going to be one heck of a show.

Q. A lot of rumors that A.J. Allmendinger might switch to NASCAR. If he was to make a switch is Champ Car at all concerned about having a lack of an American driver in terms of keeping or building its American audience?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, I don't want to see A.J. go but he's going to do whatever he is going to do. At this time he hasn't made the decision yet. I actually talked with him at Road America, but yeah, I think we're seeing American drivers come up. If you take a look at the Atlantic Series there's quite a few guys in there with Graham Rahal, possibly coming in, I think he's going to be a superstar right out of the box. But it is always a concern and we need to do a good job on cultivating American talent and helping them get rides in Champ Cars. So it's one of our business strategies that we're working on.

Q. Steve, similar to what's been asked about the schedule, how long it is, can you talk about how you are going to keep fan interest between those gaps between races even if --
STEVE JOHNSON: If you look at it really there's less gaps than there has been in the past, and so how do we do that, how do we keep people interested? We drive it through web site technology, television, better marketing, and keeping in touch with our fans. And giving them reasons to stay in touch with us. So yeah, we have got a lot of work to do but that's a challenge that everybody has right now in the sport unless you are running every week, you know, a lot of people are off two and three weeks at a time, so we'll work on that and again, I think the schedule has really less gaps and purposely we have got several times where we have got three races in a row where we can keep building the momentum and hitting the marketplace, hitting the racing community hard so we're not one race, off three weeks, one race, off three weeks like we have done before in the past. I think there's -- I think the schedule is shaping up very nicely.

Q. Following up, you keep talking about the different markets you are in. What do you see as your Target market?
STEVE JOHNSON: The Target market is a very urban market. We need to go where the masses are and make it easy for them to come out and see Champ Car. So we have kind of got a nice mix. You can argue it's not that easy to come to Road America, what a great racetrack and we had a great crowd out there, but it's a long drive from Chicago and Milwaukee. That's why when you see venues like Las Vegas, Phoenix, it's right in the heart, and it's very easy for people to come to the event and that's what we have to make it. We have got to make it easy, easy access, and high entertainment and very enjoyable for people to come out.

Q. What happened to the potential Japanese Grand Prix?
JOHN CLAGETT: Just didn't materialize. For the international packages, just take such an amount of advance planning and government supports and on and on and on and they are just not at that stage of development, any of the Japanese races that we have talked to.

Q. As far as Milwaukee goes, the Mile, were there any discussions at all an thoughts in any way to improve that event?
STEVE JOHNSON: Well, I talked with Andy Randall several times and you know, it just didn't -- it didn't work. The crowd wasn't there and although the crowd was up over the last year, it was still nowhere near where it needed to be and Andy didn't have all the confidence in the world that he would be able to get the people out and we didn't have the confidence either. So that's why we had to take it off the schedule for the time being.

Q. See any chance of -- you are going to continue to talk to them about possibilities?
STEVE JOHNSON: Sure. Sure, again, it all comes down to making good business sense for everybody, which includes our sponsors, teams, fans, and we have proven recently we're not successful on ovals.

Q. It seems a head scratcher to me though because the track is right in the middle of Milwaukee.
STEVE JOHNSON: Yep, it is. There's a lot of things that run on the track and so I can't give you any one reason why the stands aren't full there, but the facts are they are not. We need those stands to be full to be able to support the cost of bringing the Champ Car World Series there, and the promoters has to have the stands full to cover his costs to bring us there.

Q. Your remarks about the urban centers, what would it take to get back to the California Speedway, fantastic facility, you are in that urban market. You say you are not in negotiations but what would it take to make something happen?
STEVE JOHNSON: First, communication would be the first thing and right now we're not even talking, not because there's any problems, we're just not having any communication with each other. So we would need to see as we do with all of our promoters, a very solid business plan on how they market the event. What would it take to be successful and then at the end of the day, we have to look at and say does it make good business sense for us from a market standpoint; when would it fit into the schedule. Who is the title sponsor of the event; a number of things like that all come into play when you make these types of decisions. It's a beautiful facility. Again, I am not going to rule it out, but we'll have to wait and see in the future how things shake out.

Q. It unrealistic for 2007, you think?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, 2007, like I say, we got a couple of September events and we're getting real close on those, and I won't be able -- 17 event for us is, when we only ran 14 this year, that's a big jump so we would not be able to go to 18.

Q. How will you work with the Mexican partners like if you are going to have more Mexican enterprises involved in Champ Car?
STEVE JOHNSON: We would sure like to. I know I have probably made nine trips to Mexico in the last seven months, so we're working closely with everybody down there. Really we have to rely on Osessa to step up and drive the business for us since we're not there. The other thing I can do and we're looking at it is possibly hiring someone and putting them right there in Mexico City, working side-by-side with Osessa and that's something that I am looking at for my 2007 business plan so we have a presence a Champ Car presence in the marketplace, every day of the year.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you. That will bring an end to today's Champ Car media teleconference. I'd like to remind everyone on the call there will a transcript of today's call.

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