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2002 Teams & Drivers

Dale Coyne Racing
Ricardo González
Roberto González

Fernandez Racing
Adrian Fernandez
Shinji Nakano

Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports
Mario Dominguez

Mo Nunn Racing
Tony Kanaan

Newman/Haas Racing
Cristiano da Matta
Christian Fittipaldi

PWR Championship Racing
Oriol Servia
Scott Dixon

Patrick Racing
Townsend Bell

Player's Forsythe Racing Team
Alexandre Tagliani
Patrick Carpentier

Sigma Autosports
Max Papis
???

Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
Bruno Junqueira
Kenny Brack

Team Kool Green
Paul Tracy
Dario Franchitti

Team Motorola Green
Michael Andretti

Team Rahal
Jimmy Vasser
Michel Jourdain Jr.

Walker Racing
Tora Takagi

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Latest News and Commentary

Transcript of 2003 CART Schedule announcement

August 11, 2002

Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. released the schedule for the 2003 CART FedEx Championship Series Sunday at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. What follows is the transcript of the press conference with CART CEO and President Chris Pook concerning the new schedule.

MODERATOR: Please talk in general about the schedule and how you feel about 2003.

CHRIS POOK: The objective here is to try and break the schedule up and avoid some of these three races in a row and four races in a row which are so expensive and tough on our teams. That's what we have been able to do. We have also, you noticed, moved spring training to the east coast of the United States. That's designed to start the Monday after the 24 hours of Daytona to take place on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, let the media go back to work at Daytona for the Daytona Speed Weeks and then we move into our opening race at St. Petersburg.

We would like to, going forward in future years, clearly put one more or maybe two more races at a later date and that's moving the schedule around, I should add. In the springtime, we have a bit of a gap between St. Petersburg and Monterey and then a gap between Long Beach. So look for us in 2004 to be making modifications there. At the back end of the schedule you can see that we've got Miami currently at the end of September. Then Mexico City and, of course, we finish up with Australia and Fontana. Australia is a date that's somewhat difficult to deal with in 2003 because we have to work around the rugby World Championships which take place down there and television commitments. I know some of you are going to ask me why have you not changed the Australia to Fontana situation and put a gap in with the team. That's the reason why we can't do it there. We're driven in that area.

So emphasis on making it more compatible for the teams; making it more sensible for us from a television point of view - which you will hear about in a couple of weeks - and just a more balanced schedule. We told you that we'd have had this schedule out here for you at Mid-Ohio and here it is. These schedules are difficult to put together because there's a lot of intricacies with dates, in the sense of traditional dates, and venues and also we need to balance television as well. And, of course, the demands of our teams, so we can make it sensible for them when they travel. I would like to thank both Rena Shanaman and Tim Mayer for their work in this schedule. It's not been easy to put together. They have done a sterling job. We challenged them and they've put together a tremendous program.

MODERATOR: We'll just go ahead and open it up for questions.

Q. I am curious to know about those two sensitive dates. I mean, what do you have in mind and also the Chicago situation?

CHRIS POOK: Well, I can tell you that on the 27th of April we will not be in Northern Europe. And you should be able to gather what we're talking about from there. The Chicago date, as you know, the Chicago facility has been shut down as a horse racing facility and has been a report that the facility will be sold. We got this report pretty late in the game. So what -- rather than tell you it's definite that we're going to be there, we want to go back to the landlords in Chicago and discuss that with them in more detail to make sure that is a solid date.

We're anxious to run in the month of May, as you probably gathered from the schedule. We're not going to have that gap that we had this year. So that date becomes very important to us. The other point that's really important to point out to you is Chicago is the nation's No. 3 market. And we want to be in Chicago. We've made that very, very clear since this administration came into CART and we'll continue to put great emphasis on that market.

Q. Chris, was there any consideration given to the rain in England in early May and late April? And as far as Chicago goes, I know that there's some rumors of the ALMS running at Meigs Field. In the past you've expressed the opinion that it wasn't a large enough facility for CART. Is that still the case or could you fit in there for one year?

CHRIS POOK: I will let Tim deal with the rain issue because he did all the research on that in England, and explain to you the difference between Bank Holiday Monday weekend and where we're running in England in that time. Not that we have much experience from the temporary circuit business. We looked at Meigs Field very carefully and we're not comfortable at all with running these racing cars or, for that matter, any one of our three classes of racing cars in that series on that circuit. We were also not very comfortable with the ingress and egress because CART has gotten some distinct experience with going to a venue that requires a narrow entrance and crossing a bridge, for example, that occurred in Detroit. I think that that speaks for itself. So we would not risk it for one year there. It's a nice thought, we would have liked to have done, and we'd like to build our relationship with the American Lemans series as we're doing in Miami. There are certain rules and regulations that we do need to abide by. We can't compromise ourselves in those areas.

TIM MAYER: With respect to the rain, in May the amount of rainfall is virtually identical to that of September. It's sort of a peak or a trough, rather, that goes throughout the summer. There's about a millimeter of rain difference over the course of the month. It's fairly evenly spread out as anybody who's been in England for any period of time knows. The temperature difference is about 5 degrees Fahrenheit difference, daytime average temperatures. But one of the most significant aspects is that the number of hours of sunshine in the month of May is about 50 hours more on average than it is in September. This is partly because of the time of year and so on. But there are some significant advantages to May and May is a traditional Bank Holiday in England so that May weekend is a very big holiday and in conjunction with the promoters we thought it was a very advantageous move.

MODERATOR: Tim is from the United States, but has lived a great part of his life in England. Chris is from England and has lived a great part of his life in the United States and Rena is from Detroit.

CHRIS POOK: She also has lived a great part of her life in Detroit. (LAUGHTER)

Q. Chris, I guess the big switch, if you will, with moving the European races from the fall to the spring and obviously at a time that comes right before the Indianapolis -- right before the whole month of May and everything, I wondered if you could talk about not so much about the rain and that sort of stuff but just the thought process that went into moving those races from the fall to the spring?

CHRIS POOK: Lovely in England in the spring, David. It's the sensible thing for us to do. If you will recall Japan was in that slot before we traveled to Japan and that slot is now open. So it makes sense for us to move there. The other thing I think you've got to look at is that in the spring the weather is improving in the sense as you're moving towards summer so temperatures are rising, days are getting longer as Tim pointed out. In the fall, or in the early autumn, if you will, the weather is not improving. It's heading towards winter and the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping. So your chances of better weather in the springtime frame are infinitely better than the fall. We tried to put some logic to it, David.

Q. First of all, the presence of Rockingham on the schedule for next year would lead us to believe and can you confirm the happy rumor that Rockingham will not take place this year? So that's the question. No. 2, I have been told that Cleveland might be a night race; anything you can tell us about that?

CHRIS POOK: Word travels fast around this joint, doesn't it? The answer to the first question is yes, we are -- Rockingham is on the schedule. We have a sanction agreement, and they are actively selling tickets. Corporate sales are excellent. And they are in full preparation for the event and we'll be in the travel mode during the week of that race. The second part of your question was regarding Cleveland. Yes, we would have a very high interest in running at Cleveland under the lights on the night of the 4th of July weekend, tying in a full concert, music and fireworks, and ice scream and apple pie and all those things that take place over that period of time.

And we think that Cleveland is an excellent market. We think the venue is an excellent venue. And we have had some very, very enthusiastic meetings with the mayor and her key members of her staff and with the key members of the business community. That's where we're headed there. It's not a done situation, but we think that these racing cars would be quite remarkable under that scenario at night. If you remember we did a test run at Gateway a few years ago and they were truly spectacular. And we think that that's a good venue to start off the first of what might well be some more night races, depending on, obviously, the ability to get facilities lit.

Q. Two years ago (FIA President) Max Mosley said the prohibition of running on a road or street course is no longer in place. So are you exploring the idea of running on a road or street course? I do not know of any more ovals in Europe.

CHRIS POOK: Very observant of you, Lewis. You are very observant. (Laughs) Nice try. I doubt if we're going to build an oval in between now and April 27th. (Laughs). It is a lovely circuit the South of France. Forgive me, but it's a nice try, guys, but we're not going there.

Q. This schedule is going to make it difficult for your teams that want to run in the Indy 500 next year. What is CART's official position on its teams competing in the Indianapolis?

CHRIS POOK: We're delighted for them to compete in the Indianapolis 500 if they are acceptable to the Indy 500. We have great respect for the Indianapolis 500 and for the city of Indianapolis.

Q. If my math is correct here, you are down to three ovals maximum next season. Is this the lowest ever for a CART Series.

CHRIS POOK: Yes, I think your math is remarkably correct, yes.

Q. Are we going to see ovals go away completely in the next few years?

CHRIS POOK: I don't think that's the case. I think that you need to refer yourselves back to some of my conversations about urban races in previous discussions we've had together. I think we've got to be very sensible how we rebuild this series, and I think we've got to be sure we go to venues that fit the style of the motor cars and the drivers that we have, and the audiences.

Q. Chris, will you have a race in Chicago one way or the other, street race or on the oval, what is sort of your approach there?

CHRIS POOK: I think I explained to you the importance of the market so I can't sit here and say today, oh, gosh, we're going to have a street race there next year because it's not very logical, but I can say to you that and I will repeat to you and emphasize to you that we consider the Chicago market to be extremely important to us. It's extremely important in every sense of the way; not only for our English speaking and U.S. initiatives, but also for our Hispanic initiatives because Chicago is a very major Hispanic market also, a long with Los Angeles and Dallas and other venues around this country. And we're very sensitive to that. We have got three drivers from Mexico in our series whom we have a high level of respect for, and we're sensitive to these issues. And we have a huge relationship in Mexico with Monterrey and Mexico City. So these are things that play into our thinking. And you've heard me talk about NAFTA many times over. I mean, this is a very, very important part of our whole motor racing planning - Canada, United States and Mexico - very, very important part, the cornerstone of what this series is all about.

Q. Chris, Montreal could have been also on August 24th. Is this because you didn't want to ask for -

CHRIS POOK: It's very tough on these teams, you know, and there's some big long hauls. Going Denver to Montreal is a tough haul in itself but then you make that haul as part of a four-race series, it pushes our teams. If you think, you know, we're kind of in the central part right now and then -- what we're doing this year is we're going to the central part of the North American continent; then we're going to the northeastern part of Montreal in one direction; then we're reversing direction all the way back across the country to Denver again and then the guys come home to Indianapolis so it's pretty taxing on just the human resources themselves let alone the economic resources of the teams.

Q. What can you tell us today about the number of teams that could confirm their return to the series next year? Is it too early for you to talk about?

CHRIS POOK: It's a little early for us to talk about it. But we continue to be pretty exited about what we've got next year. We're still very enthused. The target is a minute of 18 and a maximum of 22. We continue to pursue that with existing teams than with new teams. I think you are going to see here very shortly our television schedule and then you will hear about some of the packages we're putting together for the teams and some other sponsorship announcements that have a huge effect on this whole program. So it's premature for me to talk about it and I would respectfully suggest it's premature for you to ask about it, with all due respect.

Q. What is the status of Houston in 2004 and years after?

CHRIS POOK: We will be in Texas in 2004, period.

Q. Not quite on the schedule, but another question about all the very many issues, the engine badging issue, Chris, obviously we know the Cosworth program is well in place; and there's been a pitch to Ford to get involved in this. Any comments you could make about the status of that at this stage of the game?

CHRIS POOK: I am smiling. Stay tuned.

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

 

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