When CART went public
over 1-year ago, it ended up with enough extra cash to be able to do
things it never was able to in the past. Immediately CART
bought the Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic series and brought them
under CART's direct control. Everyone expected CART to make
more strategic acquisitions, but it hasn't.
What began as something
around a $70 million bankroll has grown to over a $100 million nest
egg. That's a pretty hefty sum of money to just be sitting on
when the series badly needs a boost. Here's
ten (10) things we wish CART would spend it on:
TV advertising (Cost $10 million). CART must advertise
during most major sport events. That means the Super Bowl,
the Indy 500, Baseball World Series, Hockey Stanley Cup, NBA
Championships, etc. And they must advertise during
every NASCAR Winston Cup TV broadcast. Not all the people
who watch those events are CART fans, but they are sports fans,
many of whom don't have a clue what CART is. Chip Ganassi
made the bold statement that Juan Montoya is the greatest race
car driver in the world right now and we agree with him.
Although he is ultimately destined for F-1, CART has Juan
Montoya now. Take advantage of that by telling sports fans
to come watch the 'greatest' driver in the world compete.
purses (Cost $5 million). As it should, CART continues
to expand its schedule. This is putting a strain on the
CART team staff. Increase the purses enough for the teams
to hire 3 to 5 more full-time employees to reduce that strain.
a race in New York City happen (Cost $30 million). Bernie
Eccelstone had a strong desire to hold a F-1 race in Manhattan.
Ever wonder why? Does CART want a 250,000 Sunday crowd in
the financial capital of the world? We certainly hope
so. Why not host a Champ Car race (like The Long Beach Grand Prix) in New York City?
Imagine the sounds of the turbo Champ Cars ricocheting off the buildings!
CART couldn't get New Yorkers to leave the City to watch the
Meadowlands races. CART must bring their product to the
people. The liberal enviro-treehugger/consumer advocate crowd has already put the
kybosh on a World Trade Center Grand Prix with their petty complaints about noise (actually MUSIC, in this case).
Like there's so many people living in and walking around in the Financial District on Saturdays and Sundays.
It could not be a 3-day event (unless it was on a 3-day holiday
weekend). It would have to be a 2-day weekend only
event. Closing NY City streets during the weekday either
requires a visit by the Pope or some other act of god.
Getting a race approved in Manhattan will require repaving the
bumpy streets, pumping millions into the NY political system,
and doing something to appease the tree huggers. Sound
expensive? You bet. Is it worth it? Need we
answer that? Think of the instant publicity before
millions of people, the evening corporate sponsor
entertainment possibilities, playing in front of the majority of
the world's corporate headquarters, the plush hotels, the
extensive mass transit system.
the ALMS (Cost $5 million). We wonder how much longer
Don Panoz will and should continue throwing his personal money
at the ALMS. If only it could perform in front of decent crowds, perhaps he wouldn't need to.
He has done a lot for sports car racing with the ALMS. It has become a premier road racing series for sports cars, but it lacks a large spectator turnout. CART has become a premier road racing series for open wheel cars, whereas its success on ovals is, at best, spotty.
Why not combine the ALMS and CART and make CART the premier road racing
sanctioning body in North America (Much like NASCAR is the
premier oval track sanctioning body). Buying the ALMS
would of course mean that Don Panoz would become a CART board
member and major shareholder.
CART's street races are 'weekend events'. CART must work
to make its oval track events weekend events too. How does
CART boost Saturday attendance to near-Sunday levels? They
must make the Saturday races as compelling as Sunday's
program. NASCAR has managed to do that with the Busch
series. CART has been unable to do that with the Lights
and Atlantics. The idea would be for the Champ Cars to be the featured race on Sunday and ALMS/Sportscars being the featured race on Saturday or,
better yet, Saturday Night. Each could run independently at some venues (i.e. when ALMS runs
the 12 Hours of Sebring), but run combined weekends at most
venues. When Champ Cars run on an oval, the Sportscars can run on the infield road course Saturday evening into the night.
or triple its marketing staff (Cost $5 million). Pat
Leahy is a welcomed addition to the CART marketing staff.
However, the resources he has to use is limited and he can't be
everywhere all the time. CART must not only increase its
US-based marketing staff, it should have at least one fulltime
marketing person in every overseas country it races ( Australia,
Europe, Japan, Brazil), someone who will help the local promoter
beat the drum year-round.
local newspapers (Cost $5 million). CART's coverage in
local newspapers is spotty...at best. I can go anywhere,
read a Monday newspaper and find NASCAR coverage. CART is
lucky to get coverage in the major newspapers let alone the
local ones. Talk about missing the grass roots fans.
That seems to be a major hole
ESPN's TV announcers (Cost $5 million). John
Kernan, Dr. Jerry Punch, and Bill Weber may be NASCAR groupies,
but line their pockets with enough money and watch how fast they
become CART groupies. These guys are the best we have
seen. They know how to tell a story and play-up NASCAR,
and they do it in the most convincing fashion.
a Champ Car in RPM2Night's studios (Cost $0). They say
a picture is worth a thousand words. NASCAR hit another
homerun by putting a Winston Cup car right in RPM2Night's
studios so Benny Parsons and others can explain to the viewers
exactly what they mean when talking techie-stuff. Jon
Beekhius may love Denver, but CART needs to get him in
RPM2Night's studios every Tuesday to talk CART and to talk it ij
front of a Champ Car. To fund the cost I bet a half-dozen
sponsors would love to have their name on the side of that
car. Federal Express, are you listening?
Steven Spielberg a consulting fee (Cost $5 million).
The movie CHAMPS now being filmed by Sylvester Stallone
and directed by Renny Harlin can be a blockbuster, not only at
the box-office, but also for CART. The potential is mind boggling.
CART must leave no stone unturned on this one. Stallone
and Harlin may be good, but just as Montoya is the best driver
in the world right now, Spielberg carries a similar label in
Hollywood. Hire him to critique the movie and suggest
improvements. Sure Stallone and Harlin may be a little
taken aback by it, but hopefully they will see the value in his
input. And if Spielberg is not available, there is always
George Lucas and others. If this movie gets a 3 or 4 star
rating from the movie industry, CART will have hit a grand slam,
and with it instant worldwide name recognition to even
a scholarship program
(Cost $10 million). We don't mean the meager one
CART currently has, we mean something meaningful.
Something that will have an immediate impact on producing new
college graduates that are properly trained and ready to work in
CART. One of the biggest obstacles the teams face is a shortage
of qualified people to run their teams. Spend $5 million
on CAR scholarships and the other $5 million on go-kart and
other auto racing training ground series.
It's not hard spending
$80 million of the $100 million is it? Spending it wisely is
quite another. Let's hope CART endeavors to invest in its
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and Ganassi do CART proud
gets the Monkey off his back with 100th win at
year of progress shapes Rockingham
solution for CART's franchise dilemma
nears completion, fighting hard to win CART date
Tracy keeps his Kool, wins LBGP for
is an American driver?
up at Nazareth