Editorial

One-on-one with CART's David Clare

 

 by Mark Cipolloni
July 7, 2003

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CART COO David Clare
Photo by Mark Cipolloni

It's Saturday in Cleveland and CART's Chief Operating Officer, David Clare, finally has a few minutes to relax between meetings and talk about CART and some of the pressing issues facing the series.  Clare is CART's behind the scenes day-to-day operations man who, along with Chris Pook, is fixing CART's past mistakes and charting CART's future course.

Off limits during our interview was any discussion or speculation about the future ownership of CART.

Cipolloni:  David, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have a few words with us.

Clare:  It's my pleasure.

Q: As background for our readers, how did your relationship with CART materialize?

Clare: I have known Chris Pook for about 15 years.  When Chris became President of CART I called him from South Korea where I was living and said if he ever needed any help I would be interested.  Last year Chris realized he was spreading himself too thin trying to run all aspects of CART and in Toronto last year Chris and I talked about me coming to work for CART, and the rest is history.

Q: Some people have speculated that since you worked for Bernie Ecclestone for many years he may have recommended you for the job.

Clare: No, at least as far as I know.

Q: Chris Pook has gone on record that he would like to retire as President after the 2004 season, and perhaps work as a consultant, or in some other capacity with CART.  Recently, Montreal promoter Norman Legault's name has come up as a possible replacement for Pook.  What about you, would you be interested in that position?

Clare: Sure, how can anyone turn down an offer like that?  I would be delighted if asked.

Q: What is your relationship with Legault?

Clare: I have known Norman for a number of years.  I would regard him as a friend.

Q: Certain high profile motorsports players are once again predicting CART's demise.  How do you respond?

Clare: I don't respond to comments like that.  Our actions will speak for themselves.  Our constituents will judge us by our actions - what we deliver, how consistent we are, and how well we communicate with them.

Q: Where do you see CART being positioned in the "world" scheme of things?

Clare:   The motorsports industry is changing and I don't think it has fully played itself out yet.  Not all series have felt the full effects of the change yet.  TV rights and how racing is packaged will change and we think we are ahead of that curve.  We are really the only motorsports series in the world that focuses on urban races, and that includes F1.  We will remain primarily a North American series, but we will also race in key markets overseas. As an urban racing series we would not be stepping on anyone's toes (NASCAR, IRL or F1).  It makes us unique; it's our place in the world scheme of things.

Q: As you look to the future, what mix of US, Canadian, Mexican, European and Asian races do you envision?

Clare:   Our mix and our schedule won't be too dissimilar to what it is today.  We will race between 16 to 20 races per year.

Q: What mix of ovals, street and road course do you envision for CART?

Clare:   As I said our current mix is good.  We will race on ovals if they are within, or very close to, an urban market such as Milwaukee.

Q: Will we see any new races in 2004 and when will next year's schedule be released?

Clare:   We are working on some new venues, which I can't talk about at the moment.  We are working on finalizing all deals and releasing our 2004 schedule by the end of July.

Q: Will the 2004 schedule include an improved TV package?

Clare:   Absolutely, and we will have an increased emphasis on network TV.  CBS is an excellent partner.  We are trying to finalize and announce our TV package for 2004 within 3 to 4 weeks.

Q: With regard to the 2005 engine formula, V8 or V10, Turbo or Normally Aspirated?

Clare:   We are working with the engine manufacturers.  We want to be sure our formula is something they want.  Look for an announcement by the end of summer.

Q: With the always hot Cleveland race being so popular under the lights, have you given any thought of trying to light a city street event such as Miami where the heat is oppressive?

Clare:   Well to be honest, I had not thought about it.  Although logistically it may be hard, I think it's something that's worth considering.  Shadows may be an issue.

Q: Do you envision standing starts for CART?  After all, wouldn't that differentiate CART in the North American market?

Clare:   It certainly would differentiate us.  It has been discussed previously.  It's not on our immediate radar screen, but can't be ruled out if it makes sense at some point in time.

Q: Can we expect to see more American drivers in Champ Cars in 2004?

Clare:   Our aim is to have 5 or 6, but we must do it right.  At the end of the day, this is an expensive sport.  We must match the drivers who have the talent with properly funded efforts. 

Q: Chris has said his aim was to add an Asian race back on CART's schedule.  Can you comment on the Beijing, China rumors?

Clare:   Everyone wants to race in China.  It has great potential.  However, as you know, there are a lot of political and cultural hurdles to overcome.  We have interest from a number of Asian venues.  Stay tuned.

Q: Do you see a return to South America for CART?

Clare:   South America is a fantastic market for us, and yes we would like to get back to Brazil or Argentina.  However, the economic climate in South America can't support a race at this time.  We will keep it on our radar screens for the right opportunity.

Q: Recently in an interview published on CART.com, Sebastien Bourdais said he was quite happy with the CART series, but would like to see more cars on the grid and a few more strong teams.  Can you comment on this?

Clare:   Several new teams have expressed interest in coming into our series.  We are looking for strong teams with the right financial backing.  And we are looking for new drivers who can really push the pedal.  Bourdais has proven that there are some fast young drivers out there who can come in and do well against the more seasoned veterans.

Cipolloni:  David thanks for your time today.

Clare: You are quite welcome.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

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