ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon, thank you and welcome
everyone to today's call. We have a very exciting announcement
as we head into the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car
World Series Powered by Ford season. Today I am joined on the
call by Mr. Carl Russo. The team owner of RuSPORT. We are also
joined by Justin Wilson, a third year driver in the Champ Car
World Series. He will be undertaking his second year at RuSPORT.
He finished third in the championship last year. And we are also
very pleased to be joined by Mr. John Edwardson who is the
chairman and CEO of CDW. Right now it is my pleasure to turn
things over to Carl Russo.
CARL RUSSO: Good morning, thanks for joining us; on the East
Coast, just barely good afternoon. It's certainly my privilege
to be here on this great day. From an announcement standpoint, I
won't say much as the news has already hit the wire but just to
say the following; that we are proud to have CDW as a partner on
the #9 CDW race car driven by Justin Wilson coming forward in
As many of you know, the first race that we won as RuSPORT, the
first race that Justin Wilson won in Champ Car, was the first
race that CDW was our primary sponsor. So as far as I'm
concerned, this was destined to be, but I won't make more
comments than that. I'm going to introduce John Edwardson, who
is the chairman and CEO of CDW.
JOHN EDWARDSON: Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be with
you or wherever you happen to be. So the first question is
probably why is CDW interested, and clearly, we are interested
because we think it will be good for CDW to participate in the
Champ Car World Series.
We are a distributor and direct marketer of computer technology
in the U.S. and Canada. Our revenues are about 6.3 billion a
year in the last 12 months. What we do is a perfect fit for what
Champ Car is all about. We sell technology. Clearly technology
is very important in racing today. I was amazed by how much it
is used and how much computers are used in every single facet of
So we think it is a wonderful fit. It will be good for us as an
entertainment venue for our customers and we could not have
picked a better partner than RuSPORT to partner with and Justin
Wilson as our driver. We do like to win. We have got been a
winning company for many years and we are on the Fortune 100
best companies to work for in America. We've been given numerous
recognitions about being a winner. So clearly what we're all
about is helping the team win.
One of the great things is it won't just be the CDW logo on the
car. We are having a CDW technology specialist help the RuSPORT
team and help Justin with the adaptation of technology. So we'll
be a little more involved maybe than other general sponsors
would be. With that, I do want to add that we have some
partners, Hewlett Packard, HP has partnered; Plantronics, Edge
Tech and Targus, will be joining us in the sponsorship. We are
all looking forward to the summer racing season. I will be at a
number of the races and we will have customers at every single
And with that, I want to introduce Justin Wilson. We are
thrilled to have him as our driver. In fact, that was one of the
key elements of doing this was first finding the right partner,
and second the right partner with the right driver, and that's
Justin, now your turn.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you very much. Obviously I'm very excited
about the new season and having CDW on board with the team. It's
already been mentioned that it's not just a sponsorship program;
it's a partnership. And I think the information and the help
that the technology that CDW can bring to the team will help us
take the next step and hopefully we can go out there and win
this year. The idea is to keep improving and try and be the
strongest team out there and make the least mistakes on the
track. With that, looking forward to the new season.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much, gentlemen. Congratulations, Mr.
Edwardson, thank you and welcome to the Champ Car World Series.
We look forward to a great year and many years down the road. As
the announcement that many of you saw today read, this is a
multi year deal with RuSPORT, and real quick before we turn it
over to the media, a question for Carl, this is your third year
in the Champ Car World Series, last year, first team ever in
Champ Car history to be a second year team with both its drivers
in the top five in the final season standings, and now starting
your third year, and to attract a high profile sponsor such as
CDW, tell us a little bit about what that means to your team.
CARL RUSSO: Well, obviously it means a number of things to the
team. No. 1, as John echoed earlier about winning, I'll echo it
back and say that CDW is the leader in their space. They are the
No. 1 in their industry and we think that's important for a
number of reasons, not the least of which is the brand names
that it brings along with us as partners as you heard John
mention. So that's No. 1.
No. 2, applying that technology to the team, it already started
last year, actually. CDW started working with us from behind the
scenes from a technical consulting standpoint. As you know in
motorsports, especially in many Champ Car, where you're
professing gobs of information and trying to make decisions
realtime, they started helping us do a much better job of
collating and moving that information around, and we expect that
investment to continue. So on those pieces alone, it means an
enormous amount. But very clearly, to have a stable industry
leading sponsor to join Justin in our effort, means a whole lot
for the forward looking, not just stability of the team, but the
performance basis that we're going to be based on. So I can't
give you enough words to tell you how positive we are on this
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations again. We'll go ahead and turn things
over to the media.
Q. You obviously put your toe in the water last year and then
made this decision to really go after it. Can you tell us, you
talked about the perfect fit and utilization of your other
brands and components, but can you tell us what the key events
or reasons were for you to really make this decision and push
forward with this thing?
JOHN EDWARDSON: Clearly what happened in the Toronto market was
significant. It was the first event in which we participated.
Justin happened to be the winner that day. But the next week, we
had a significant increase in the revenues of our Canadian
subsidiary as a result of the publicity and reaction, the
increased number of phone calls into the company. So that was
exactly what we were looking for. What we want to do is more
business. We do believe that the customers of our company and
the coworkers at our company will have a great deal of interest
in racing. It has been one of the things that has been brought
up to me numerous times by our co workers, and they believe that
their customers will be very interested in attending the races.
Q. I won't ask you why you chose to sponsor Justin and RuSPORT,
definitely a fine driver and a fine gentleman and RuSPORT
likewise. What I would like to ask you the question this way:
Why as a Canadian based firm, a Toronto based firm, did you not
elect to sponsor one of several Canadian drivers, such as Andrew
Ranger or Michael Valiante, Patrick Carpentier, all of whom are
struggling to find sponsors so that they can race against a guy
like Justin Wilson?
JOHN EDWARDSON: I think the answer is, you know, we are a U.S.
based company with a Canadian division that is doing very well
in Canada. And I think the answer is Carl and Justin got to us
first. They found us. (Laughter). They did a great job selling
CDW. And we had not been out looking to do this at all. It
really came to us and they approached us.
CARL RUSSO: Well, I must amplify, with all of those great names
and those up and coming drivers as well as some significant and
seasoned veterans of the series, I for one I do believe that
inside of our team, we have the two best drivers in the paddock,
and as they continue to learn, I think these are the two drivers
that are going to take us to the front. So that would be my
answer, but I'm flattered by yours, John.
Q. The standard question that's been asked, to Justin and
everybody, what's it going to take to really push and beat
Newman Haas, and Sebastien Bourdais this year? What do you see
in Justin and RuSPORT that is maybe a little bit different and
stronger this year than last? Obviously your second year with
the team, you're a little more comfortable with the team, etc.,
but again, bottom line is, what's it going to take to beat
Sebastien this year?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think one of the key parts as you mentioned, is
the continuity. It's my second year with RuSPORT, and all of the
information, all of the things we learned last year, hopefully
we can use that well this year and build from that and be
stronger at every race. I think that the team have been working
extremely hard all off season and they have put a lot of effort
in. It's now time to put the operation to the test. I think that
is the key part, and obviously as we have said a number of
times, CDW have also brought some technology to the team, and
hopefully we can process all of the information quicker and
CARL RUSSO: In my view, we have given Justin a car to win at
every race, so I'm not sure what the issue actually is.
(Laughter). All kidding aside, I'll amplify on what Justin said.
The cohesiveness of the team, the culture of the team continues
to refine and become more purposeful. I'm very, very encouraged
in what I've seen in the entire team and in the key leaders
amongst the team, and specifically, how they have started to
lead the team more and more. With that, to your answer, you've
been around motorsports a long, long time
Q. Gee, thanks.
CARL RUSSO: Well, you're welcome. Not as long as Gordon. But
you've been around a long time and you know that these things
happen by a million little details, and those details are
executed by people who are inside a good culture and have good
processes. I think Justin is going to get to the front more and
more this year. I think the team is going to put a consistent
car underneath him. We struggled at certain types of tracks, and
other at types of tracks, we seemed to have a good combination.
We'll have address some of those weaknesses and hopefully
maintain the strengths. I'm looking for Justin and AJ to get to
the front more and more, and if we do that, the championship is
Q. Justin, when you came to the United States, did you imagine
that after two years, you would be on top of the championship
car with the top team and a chance to win the title, because you
will win the title, right?
CARL RUSSO: Exactly right.
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, I don't know how to answer that. Obviously
I'm very pleased to be a part of RuSPORT and to have the
opportunity of trying to win the title. I feel really at home
here with the team, and I think the whole team gels very nicely
together. It's that that gives us the opportunity to go out
there and go out there and try and win races. It's a good
scenario and I'm very pleased and privileged to be part of it.
Q. Now a follow up for Mr. Russo. Carl, how do you consider the
staff situation of the Champ Car at the beginning of the 2006
CARL RUSSO: From my perspective, are you asking about the
series, or the competition that we're going to face?
Q. The competition, yes, yes.
CARL RUSSO: You know, I think you've seen the series has
formidable competition, and it's the series that has enough
equivalence where teams that you might not suspect would do well
have done well. I think you're going to see Forsythe be very
strong. I think you're going to see Newman Haas be very strong.
I think you're going to see PKV be very strong. I think you're
going to see Team Australia be very strong. I think everybody is
going to step it up.
Having said that, you know, we've all been working with the same
cars for a long period of time. We're learning more about the
racetracks. I think the competition at the front is going to be
closer than it's ever been. I think it's going to be one of
those seasons where qualifying is going to be determined by
hundredths of a second, not tenths of a second. I think track
position, pit strategy, all of those pieces are going to come to
bear, and every little piece of the equation is going to make
the difference between not only winning and losing, but being on
a podium or not and being in the championship hunt. We're
certainly going to try.
And to your question earlier to Justin, I'll echo one piece. As
all of you aware, Justin, when he came to the States, he was
coming out of Formula I. He had quite literally outgrown Formula
I. He could no longer fit in a Formula I car, so they simply had
to get rid of him; that's my view. In my opinion as I've gotten
to know Justin and the talent that he has, there's no question
whether it was this team or another, that he would be at the
front. So all credit to Justin for what he's been able to
achieve. That's my view.
Q. Let's go back to that day last summer in July in Toronto
where you pulled off the win and the emotion of finally cracking
the middle position on the podium, and your mom or dad or
relatives were there to celebrate with you, talk about that; and
how anxious you are to get back and try to make it two in a row
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was a great time last year. We came
close a couple of races beforehand and to actually pull it off
in Toronto was a great feeling. I was kind of wondering what was
going to happen to stop me getting that can first win in those
last few laps when I was circling around behind the safety car.
It was a great time, and I'm looking forward to getting back to
Toronto and trying to repeat that. It's going to be quite a
challenge, as Carl mentioned already. As each year goes by with
the same car, more and more people work out how to make this car
quick. So it's going to be a closer, tighter field and it will
be a challenge for the driver to come out on top and it will be
a great feeling for whoever does that.
Q. Carl, the Canadian contributions to this team are certainly
well documented from team president, Jeremy Dale on down. Is
Jeremy back with the squad this year, maybe talk about the
Canadian contribution to getting this team to where it is?
CARL RUSSO: The Canadians come in a number of forms. We have a
number of Canadians on the team. Obviously Jeremy being the
president, he is one. And Jeremy is currently in another room
eating all of the cookies. (Laughing). Something about the visa
thing, I'm not sure.
But another large Canadian contributor that we talked to earlier
was actually the Canadian contribution from CDW Canada, which
was why Toronto happened and is I think a very rapidly growing
segment of CDW's business. So that to me is arguably as big a
contributor as all of the associates of CDW in Canada, I don't
even know the number. What's the number?
JOHN EDWARDSON: About a hundred. It was important at the
approach, actually, went through CDW Canada as the first
available sponsors and then came back to CDW headquarters in the
U.S. We are here because we were first approached about the
Canadian race in Toronto and when you win your first time out,
it kinds of makes you want to come back for more.
CARL RUSSO: In Canada, by the way, some others, as you're
probably aware, Justin's race engineer, Todd Malloy, is
Canadian; our shock technician, the wondrous Alex Nishi is also
Canadian. There's probably some others that I'm forgetting. But
there's a significant contribution in RuSPORT from Canadians. By
the way, there's a significant contribution on virtually every
Champ Car team from Canadians.
Q. With the new car coming on board next year, this being a
multiple year deal as I understand it, with a new car coming on
board next year and everybody having to learn new setups and all
that, will the technology partnership of this deal help your
CARL RUSSO: I think there's a couple of things that help the
team. Earlier we spoke about the culture of the team and trying
to build a learning organization. I think that sets the tone for
any time you get a new chassis like that; it's really about your
learning rate. But I think you bring up a very astute question,
because frankly, we're going to be ripping through a ton of
information trying to sort that out. And so there's no question
that CDW's expertise is going to help us there. And John, maybe
you want to amplify on that.
JOHN EDWARDSON: Sure. One of the things that we do for companies
all over America is help them make determinations about what
type of equipment they need, how much of it they need, based on
what it's going to be used for. So we will have CDW computer
field engineers be active, they have already been active, they
will get more active, and will clearly have the best technology
in the world available. We sell billions of it every year in the
U.S. and in Canada, and so we have a big inventory to draw from.
When RuSPORT needs something, it will be there the next day.
Q. This is a great announcement today for Justin, anything on
the horizon for your other car, sponsorship for A.J.'s car?
CARL RUSSO: Oh, that short guy. The answer is, as we've always
stated, when there is news, we'll report it, so there's nothing
to report today. But obviously our activities on the team on
both on track activities and off track activities and our
marketing partnership continue without any abatement.
Q. I noticed in the press release that you showed a picture of
the car with the CDW logos on it. Are the partnership logos
going to appear on that car, as well, Mr. Edwardson?
JOHN EDWARDSON: And the answer is they do, or they will, and
they are already on the car. And so as the main sponsor, we get
a little more visibility than the others, but HP, Plantronics,
Edge Tech and Targus are all on the car.
CARL RUSSO: And just so you know, that picture that was sent out
was it actually a computer generated drawing. As we do the
photos from today, you'll get a chance to see the placement as
JOHN EDWARDSON: The visibility is very important to our joint
Q. I think maybe this is a question for Carl, and that is that
since you've been in the series, do you find that it's getting
any easier to find sponsorship? Do you think the climate is
changing? And I would say from what I perceive, maybe your team
has gone the hardest after it and you've been doing the most
effort, that's visible, to me, anyway, some may be doing it
behind the scenes; maybe could you address that. And the other
thing I want clarified is CDW, is this coming from the U.S. as
well as Canada?
CARL RUSSO: So maybe John can answer that last question first.
JOHN EDWARDSON: The pockets in the U.S. are a little bigger in
the U.S. operation than the Canadian operation, so this is being
funded principally from the U.S.
CARL RUSSO: But it involves CDW worldwide.
JOHN EDWARDSON: It involves CDW Canada. And at our two Canadian
races, I believe, we will be very visible, three races in Canada
this year. And I know I will be at the Toronto race, and maybe
one of the other ones.
CARL RUSSO: To your question, on the sponsorship climate and
what's happening in that environment, CDW, as you know, prides
itself on delivering technology first to its customers. It's
what has enabled it, I think one of the key areas, that has
enabled CDW to grow at the rate they have grown. John paid us a
heck of a compliment when he said we got to them first. So maybe
that's the right mesh. Look, you have to be aggressive on the
racetrack to win. We believe you have to be aggressive off the
racetrack to win, and that aggressive certainly starts in the
approach to CDW, but it's not going to stop there. We're going
to continue to be aggressive in our pursuit to help CDW win off
the racetrack as well.
So your question about the climate, I think the climate mimics
the health of Champ Car, and as it continues to grow, that
climate improves. So I believe you're going to see a continued
success in this environment. I think it speaks to Champ Car's
business model where you have very high technology racing where
the costs are controlled that puts it in a reach of a broad set
of sponsors that can reach a technology savvy audience. So I
think that is going to improve and I can only speak for what we
see at RuSPORT, not what the other teams are seeing in the brood
ERIC MAUK: Thank you, that will bring an end to the Champ Car
media teleconference today. Again, congratulations to everyone
concerned with this announcement today, another very positive
announcement as we head to the 2006 season opener which takes
place on the streets of Long Beach, the Toyota Grand Prix of
Long Beach, which will take place April 7 9.
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