Kalkhoven quiets the naysayers UPDATE AutoRacing1.com also interviewed Kevin Kalkhoven yesterday (separately) and will have an article on Monday concerning this topic.
03/02/07 This ESPN.com article says, The lack of solid information emanating from Champ Car since the end of the 2006 season has been ominous, to say the least.
Observers of the American open-wheel racing scene have been fixated on the short field of cars that came out for the first two open tests of the new 2007 Panoz Champ Car and the fact that just a little more than a month before the scheduled start of the season, fewer than 10 drivers have been confirmed.
"I promise I will never go and speak to penguins for two months in winter ever again," explained adventurous series co-principal Kevin Kalkhoven, who spent much of the off-season in Antarctica. "I disappeared for a couple of months and it wasn't necessarily the smartest thing to do without letting everyone know what I was doing. It caused a whole bunch of speculation."
"There has obviously been a quiet period over the winter off-season and that may have been taken by some people negatively and some people positively," Kalkhoven said. "But we had always planned to make a number of major announcements at Monterey next week. Significant sponsorships have come in and the series will continue to develop. I think you'll find there are a number of fully-funded teams and it's going to be one hell of a season.
"I want to reiterate that the owners, particularly Jerry [Forsythe] and myself, are committed to both the fundamentals and the practice of Champ Car -- not just in the past and now, but solidly in the future."
"Our technology department's approach was to use a confirmed and knowledgeable test driver in Neel Jani to compare changes between two cars. Sebring and Houston were private tests where we were trying to advance the car and understand the basic nature of the new technology we had there. They were not meant and were not designed to be public forums for the teams.
"Just developing and understanding the new car has been a major task -- the aero effects, the new gearbox. Each team is approaching it differently and we'll see which team has the right answer in Vegas. Don't jump to conclusions just because engineers chose a specific route."
"We have complete support for Steve Johnson and I think events will prove that our support and faith in Steve is entirely justified," he said. "As for Jerry, that's a story that was put out. Let's wait and see what the facts are."
"We recognize that we had some issues with our television, so we have signed a major longterm agreement with a new television partner (ESPN/ABC) that has been announced," he said. "We also recognize that we needed to update the technology of our motor racing so we committed to a new car, which is being purchased by all the teams. It has been designed for 21st-century racing, and it has been well-proven in all its trials since teams have gotten delivery in testing.
"The other thing is that we have signed longterm agreements with a number of new promoters for new events (including Las Vegas, Phoenix, China and two road courses in continental Europe) which fit the marketing pattern for the future of the series, and we have signed new series sponsors as well. When you take all that in you'll realize that we have made huge, huge steps forward."
"There is absolutely no financial support being offered to any of the teams this year," Kalkhoven said. "The teams are standing or falling on their own success and I'm delighted to say that you will find they are standing on their success.
"This series is here for the longterm. I'm not a believer in highly-subsidized racing as we've seen either in the past or in other series. This year we have new cars, we have new teams and we have a series that is not being subsidized. I can't wait to get on track."