Patrick and Team Rahal's Scott Roembke
Pook, Tom Anderson and Carl Haas
Forsythe, Derrick Walker and Cosworth's Ian Bisco
Photo: Mark Cipolloni
CART rounded up six team owners and a few
manufacturers that were willing to show a commitment to CART
for 2003 and beyond during a press conference at the Shell
Denver Grand Prix today. Much of the media has been
speculating about CART's future.
By bringing the team officials
together, Pook said he hoped to silence the ''spin doctors''
who have hinted at CART's possible demise since 1996 when the
IRL was formed. The highlights are
below. Full transcript
Chris Pook promised that a minimum of 18 cars
will run next season, and possibly as many as 21. He also thanked the
media for all the coverage of the series, and apologized for coming down so
hard on The Rocky Mountain News on Thursday.
Team owners of Newman/Haas Racing, Fernandez
Racing, Patrick Racing, Players/Forsythe Racing and Walker Racing and the
manager of Team Rahal all announced their commitments to CART next season
and expressed confidence in the circuit's product.
Noticeably absent were Target/Chip Ganassi
Racing; Team Kool Green, soon to be owned by CART's Michael Andretti and Kim
Green, and Morris Nunn Racing. All three are expected to field teams in theIRLnext season, but all have stated to AutoRacing1.com there is
still a possibility they could also run in CART, it's just too early to
commit right now. Pook noted that you don't see the IRL teams making
announcements yet, so why does the media think all the CART teams have to
commit by the end of August, September 1st timeframe.
Pook stated - ''We will continue to grow the
series, we will continue to put it on new tracks, we will continue to go to
new markets and we will continue to be the best sports-marketing delivery
vehicle in North America." We will be back in Texas in 2004 (read that
Dallas or Houston) as well as two other major markets." I said in
December when I took this job, the objective is to stabilize CART in 2003
and 2004. "We will be going back to Australia and Europe and we plan
on going back to the Orient after 2004." ''That we've done by doing
the relationship with Cosworth (CART's lone engine supplier beginning next
year) and with our major events,'' he said. ''Then, in 2005, we'll come into
a new engine formula and new cars, and you'll see a new CART moving on down
Pook also said he was committed to bringing more
American drivers into CART, which is dominated by foreign drivers. Andretti
and Jimmy Vasser were the only Americans in Sunday's 18-car field and both
drivers are not yet committed for 2003. Pook said he expects one or
two new teams from Europe, a returning team to CART who had left and a team
moving up from another USA racing series. Today you see commitments
for about 14 cars and we have months to get four to seven more.
Gerry Forsythe of Player's/Forsythe Racing
confirmed he would field two cars next season, adding, ''reasonably sure of
a third car and speculation on a fourth car. We are committed. CART is the
best, most diversified type of open-wheel racing. Why wouldn't we want to be
involved in it?''
Derrick Walker, who said he will be back
''certainly with a one- and hopefully with a two-car team,'' agreed that
CART ''is in transition. There are major changes happening in our sport.
There is a perception of uncertainty. This is not a six-month slide-through
and then we're out of it. This is a couple years of transition from where we
are right now to where the CART of the future is going to go.''
Tom Anderson of Fernandez Racing said his team
will return with one car for sure for Adrian Fernandez with sponsors Tecate,
Telmex and Quaker State and is negotiating with sponsors on a second car.
Pat Patrick said he was confident there will be
18 cars in CART races next year, and ''we expect to be one of them and we
are working on a second one."'
Carl Haas reiterated his long-time involvement
in CART with his partner, Paul Newman, and said he was committed to
continuing the relationship. We are pretty certain that will be three
cars, one with Mario Andretti. ''I can't tell you my whole program
right now, but we're going to be there and we're going to be there with a
first-class program,'' Haas said.
Cosworth's Ian Bisco said "I think just to
expand a little bit on when we made the announcement in Portland, we at
Cosworth are committed to CART. We have been developing the engine since we
made the announcement. We have done a lot of testing and setting up, getting
the engine parameters correct for what we think is going to be necessary
next year. I think the big thing that I should say is that this is by no
means a low-tech engine. This is still a complicated, high-tech engine that
we will be supplying next year and it will be the same engine that everybody
will get. I think right now, we have got parts loaded for 20 cars next year.
We are committed doing this. We think it's going to be a very
exciting series. We are not underestimating that the teams are going to be
very demanding. I think it's going to be fun. I think that the level of
competition is going to be very, very close. I realize that there will be a
lot of demand put on us, but we've been around, we have been in this series
a long time. We have supported CART for 20-odd years right now and this
brings something new to us. As I say, go back to the engine a little bit, we
have been developing the engine. We have got sort of, I call them, the
"real" parts. We'll be going together and we'll be track testing probably in
October, and we'll be supplying engines probably towards the end of
November. In fact, I think probably by Rockingham, we'll be handing out
contracts for people to get teams signed up. Teams have been asking for
contracts. It's a delay on our part, really. I think what we are really
doing is we are going through, this we are trying to cover every infinite
detail to make sure all of the costs are controlled so everybody knows how
much the program is going to be, cover every little detail. It's a very
comprehensive contract. I think that it's going to be exciting and it's
going to be very reassuring when the teams do get these..
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