View from the Topside
Champ Car TV for 2005

   by Rick Benjamin
March 8, 2005

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Eyeballing the 2005 Champ Car calendar, we’re just about a month away from Long Beach and the 2005 opener for the Champ Car World Series (CCWS). But I’m looking ahead two weeks, when many of the key CCWS teams will go testing at Sebring in Florida. I plan to be there for my first look at some of the new car and driver combinations that’ll light it up during the new Champ Car season.

One reason for excitement is that there are more Champ Car teams and drivers with an opportunity to earn the championship than you’ll see in virtually any other major series.

You’ve got to think that Newman/Haas, Forsythe, and now PKV, with Cristiano da Matta and Jim McGee, can realistically be in the chase. And after watching what Carl Russo and Jeremy Dale put together in a real hurry for RuSPORT in ’04, I think they could be the best bet of all.

And while Bourdais, Junqueira, Tracy, da Matta, and Vasser will all contend, no one doubts that AJ Allmendinger could be the fastest of them all…and I’m looking forward to seeing what Justin Wilson can do in better equipment.

And of course Rocketsports will be formidable, with Alex Tagliani and presumably Ryan Hunter-Reay real threats all season long. It’s not a stretch at all to think that those five teams will be in the title fight until November, and that as many as 6 drivers will have a realistic shot at the Vanderbilt Cup.

And what of television in 2005? While an official announcement is still a few days away, it appears that we’ll bring a veteran team of experienced Champ Car broadcasters to Long Beach and our first NBC broadcast of the season.

All indications are that you’ll see and hear faces and voices that are extremely familiar, knowledgeable, and pumped up about the season ahead. Champ Car has already announced the best combination of networks for its telecasts in a long time; we have a very capable production company on board in Molstar, and we’ve been able to bring back our extremely talented producer, Jack Graham.

We’ll have the directing talents of Jim Marshall of Molstar for the entire season, and maybe the biggest change for the better will be that we have our plans in place well before the start of the season.

So many television details had to wait so long last year, due to the Partner’s rescue of Champ Car; this year, with a great new direction and solid leadership in the series, Champ Car was able to move quickly to firm up new partnerships that will greatly benefit fans worldwide as they follow the action from home.

We’re planning on using exciting new graphics, expanded and enhanced story-telling ideas, and longer shows (2 ½ hours in most cases) to reach and win over new fans for the Champ Car World Series.

There’s always room for improvement in television coverage of racing, but rest assured those of us charged with this responsibility have the fans’ best interests first, and we’ll continue to work long and hard to bring you the best racing television coverage possible.

I can’t wait until Long Beach. I hope you’ll join us on NBC Sports, if you can’t be there in person.

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