On our rumors page we reported that Luca di Montezemolo, the Ferrari chairman, announced the return of Maserati to motorsports next year, but he has strongly denied that the Ferrari/Fiat owned company is looking to bring Maserati to F1. A Ferrari spokesman said that the small
marquee was going to concentrate it's efforts elsewhere in the racing world. "They will definitely not be in F1," said a Ferrari spokesman. "Maybe in GT racing, or over in America with CART or the IRL series."
With that said, CART needs to give serious consideration to our
proposal to race at Monza or Imola as part of an expanded European swing, and as a way of assuring it lands Maserati/Ferrari in the series. While Maserati is not Ferrari per se, it certainly will draw a lot of fanatical Italian racing fans since Ferrari/Fiat owns Maserati.
With the right marketing to all the tifosi fans, CART can
further develop the type of international following it needs. As CART begins to rub elbows with F1 for part of the world
market share of top-level open wheel racing, a market where demand far outstrips
supply, it will be well served by having more involvement with companies
that have a true global vision.
We can't see Maserati in the IRL simply because it obviously wants an international sporty image and CART can deliver
that to them, not only a strong USA presence, but also a strong worldwide presence. For a company that sells cars worldwide, one would assume CART
would be their first choice.
Therefore, we recommend, once
again, that CART announce their plan for a turbocharged 1.8L turbo engine so Ferrari will know that they are investing in a engine formula that will last them
20-years (might we remind you that Ferrari has a lot of experience with street and F1 turbo
engines). Then we'll wait with anticipation when Ferrari/Fiat decides to rebadge the engine as a Ferrari at some point.
Once that happens, there is no stopping CART. Their popularity will skyrocket to a level on par with F1, and
some years from now CART will look back on this decision as a defining moment in its
history, not only for maintaining its turbo heritage, but for providing a
platform by which a car company can develop alternate engine
technologies. Might we also remind you that several car
manufacturers still sell turbocharged street-legal cars, and with the push
to smaller, more fuel efficient engines of the future, turbos are
beginning to be looked at once again as a way to maintain performance
levels with smaller displacement engines. Design and development of
a small 1.8 liter engine for CART, will enable engineers to apply what
they learn on the track, to their passenger cars of the future.
CART can and MUST deliver to manufacturers and sponsors a worldwide exposure where
annual TV audiences are measured in the billions per year, not millions.
CART already has the international flavor of drivers and
manufacturers. Now it needs to land a few more sponsors with a true
global vision, implement the right worldwide marketing effort, and sit back
as all the current F1 engine manufacturers, currently considering starting
their own rival F1 series, step back, take a look at CART and say, "why
are we spending so much in F1 when CART is now delivering us a worldwide presence
for a fraction of the cost, and by golly, we actually have a chance to
win a race.
It's time CART move swiftly (is that possible
with so many self interests standing in the way?), with a unified global
business plan, that is supported by a global marketing plan, topped off with
a global mentality. That global mentality must permeate throughout its
entire structure......and that means from the mechanics on the teams right
up to the President of the organization.
Possibly the biggest task ahead for CART's new
President, Joe Heitzler, isn't a new TV package or series sponsor, it's
getting all the troops to grasp and understand the 'global vision'.
Mr. Heitzler has solicited the input of all CART's constituents to help
develop CART's next business plan. Unfortunately, not all those
constituents have the same idea as to what's best for CART as a
series. They certainly have their best interests in mind. Can
you blame them? But that means not everyone agrees on where best to
expose their product (the USA or globally) and CART will never be able to
make everyone happy.
We'll use Toyota and Philip Morris as two
examples. Their current participation in CART is currently funded 100%
by Toyota USA and Philip Morris USA, respectively. Their parent
companies are tasked with selling in the global marketplace, while their USA
arm is tasked with selling product in the USA. Therefore, if you ask
them, they will tell you that CART should pull in the reigns and concentrate
on making CART a very strong USA series. And while that has a lot of
merit, the fact of the matter remains that the USA motorsports marketplace with NASCAR, ALMS, GrandAm,
TransAm, NHRA, IHRA, and the IRL is terribly over saturated.
With little future growth to
be realized in the USA, the challenge for CART will be
to maintain a strong USA presence (choosing its races wisely with just 50%
in the USA) while growing a strong global presence with the other 50% of
Certainly Toyota USA and
Philip Morris USA might not be too keen on my push for CART to be a global
powerhouse, believing instead that CART would then neglect the USA market
they covet. That's expected.
However, just as NASCAR had to
endure the outcry when it announced it was dropping both short track races
at North Wilksboro, NC in favor of bigger superspeedways that could hold
three times as many fans, it will be up to CART to help the Toyotas and
Marlboros to understand the 'bigger picture' of where the series is
headed. It will then be up to them to decide whether to ride the rocket ship
upwards, or jump off before the booster rockets ignite, seeking refuge in
the more tranquil den at 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis,
or the sandy white beaches in Daytona.
With a global vision that
permeates the entire organization, at least companies such as Toyota USA
and Philip Morris USA, will understand where the rocket ship is headed,
instead of second guessing where it might be going, as it does
today. Should they decide to jump off, it will then be up to CART to
convince their parent companies to replace them with perhaps an even
bigger financial commitment.
How's the old saying go?
You get what you pay for. As a pure USA company, CART delivers
millions of eyeballs, but as a true global company, CART can and will
deliver billions of eyeballs. We don't know about you, but we know
which we would prefer!
Unfortunately, many in the
CART community think their battle is with the IRL and that's where the
focus should be. Forget about the IRL, there are far bigger fish to
fry and far bigger markets to cultivate.
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
to discuss this article