Red Bull eyes Champ Car, to drop Cheever UPDATE #11 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.' According to AutoRacing1.com sources, don't expect to see Red Bull sponsor any car in the Champ Car World Series this year. After dumping their IRL Cheever Racing program, and based on the Red Bull boss' Helmut Marko's comments below, that was the assumption. However, NASCAR appears to have come in and stole the show. We are told they'll still do their personal sponsorships with drivers like Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger, but won't sponsor any teams in open-wheel racing as they focus on the NASCAR side.
If true this may explain why there has been no announcements coming from the RuSPORT team and why their website has removed all mention of its sponsors except for series sponsors Ford and Bridgestone.
Could this mean they will sponsor the Atlantic series? We shall see, but as long as open wheel racing remains split in the USA, NASCAR and F1 are going to continue to take sponsors away from them. Many sponsors do not want to choose sides and marketing and sales types from both camps continue to undermine each other by saying "we're better than them." Many sponsors choose to not get involved in the battle and simply choose the peace of NASCAR or F1.11/22/05 Our sources tell us to look for Red Bull to become the title sponsor of AJ Allmendinger's car at RuSPORT in Champ Car in 2006 - the energy drinks company really has their eye on AJ and they may sponsor his Champ Car for the next year or two in return for Carl Russo letting him out of his contract to go to the Red Bull Minardi team. Red Bull would very much like to have both Scott and AJ together in F1, depending on how each fares next year.
11/02/05 We hear that RuSPORT is poised to make some major sponsor announcements for next year. We assume the sponsors would be Red Bull, Intel and CDW, all of which we previously rumored. We also wonder if Western Union is still in the mix. If that is the lineup of sponsors, the team should run three cars in 2006. Unfortunately their shop space is limited because they still have not moved. Champ Car is in desperate need of more teams and/or cars for 2006 because supply won't equal demand. As we stated previously, that is limited by the availability of Lola chassis.'
10/29/05 Perhaps more evidence Red Bull is headed to Champ Car, we are hearing that Red Bull might pull their sponsorship from the Rolex Series’ Brumos Racing’s #58 Porsche-Fabcar DP next.
10/28/05 According to this Brazilian website, Red Bull, having dropped the Cheever IRL team, will become the primary sponsor of the RuSPORT Champ Car team in 2006.
10/16/05 Eddie Cheever admitted today at Fontana that Red Bull has indeed dropped sponsorship of his 2-car IRL team. The team has a contract with Toyota for another year, so they hope to be back, but right now their future is somewhat uncertain. Alex Barron's contract is up. Patrick Carpentier has one year left on his contract with Cheever.
10/05/05 We are hearing that Red Bull has told Cheever Racing if he wants to keep the Red Bull sponsorship he has to move his team to Champ Car. If true, it will be interesting to see what Eddie decides to do.
09/20/05 Reports are that Red Bull will step up to full-time sponsorship of at least one RuSPORT car (Allmendinger) in 2006 and they are looking at possibly sponsoring the Champ Car Atlantic series as well. Whether they do two RuSPORT cars like they did with Eddie Cheever, or just one remains to be seen. We do know that RuSPORT has an eye on some other large sponsorship the way of Western Union, Intel and CDW, so we'll have to see how this plays out.
09/13/05 According to SPEEDTV.com, and as we predicted, Red Bull won't be back with Eddie Cheever in 2006, which if true, might deep-six the team unless Tony George bails them out. Now we'll see if Red Bull comes to Champ Car or the Atlantics series as rumored.
08/22/05 Red Bull has a problem. The Austrian drinks firm has been sponsoring a young driver program for the last few years and is keen to be seen to be backing young talent as this is apparently something which appeals to its young customers.
One of the problems that Red Bull now has in Europe is that it has been sponsoring so many drivers that it does not have enough places to put them in F1. This has resulted in Red Bull Racing having three race drivers this year rather than two and a backlog of others in GP2, where there are five cars running in Red Bull livery. The result of this is that Red Bull's number one hope: American Scott Speed is trying to get out of his Red Bull deal in order to break into F1 by another route because there are too many people in front of him in the Red Bull queue.
For the last four years Red Bull has been sponsoring Red Bull Cheever Racing in the Indy Racing League. Sadly this has not been a great success with the team winning only one race, back in 2002 when Tomas Scheckter won at Michigan.
"All the things that are in our control: reliability, pit stops and keeping the drivers focused have been very successful this year," says team boss Eddie Cheever, himself a former F1 driver. "We are working better and better with Toyota on using their engineering but unfortunately we are with Toyota in a difficult year. I think a measure of how we have done is how we compare to Ganassi's team who has also struggled under difficult circumstances this season."
This is all well and good but Red Bull wants results and Patrick Carpentier 10th and Alex Barron 12th overall is not that exciting a result. There has been talk for some time now that the Red Bull deal with Cheever will end this year but Cheever himself says that things have yet to be discussed for next year but there are signs that Red Bull might be looking elsewhere with rumors of talks with Rahal Letterman Racing, which has an ace up its sleeve with the presence of media darling Danica Patrick, and talk of a deal in Champ Car with RuSPORT, which fields rising American star AJ Allmendinger. There is also talk of a series sponsorship of Formula Atlantic. Excerpts from Grandprix.com.08/17/05 It looks like Red Bull is coming to Champ Car. This Champ Car article says, One indication of Champ Car's gathering strength was the presence in Denver of Dr Helmut Marko, godfather of Red Bull's racing programs around the world. Former F1 driver Marko oversees the European race team aspects of Danny Sullivan's Red Bull F1 driver search program and is a key consultant to Red Bull in determining their racing sponsorships. I talked to Dr Marko in Denver after he completed a meeting with Kevin Kalkhoven and Dick Eidswick.
"The Champ Car World Series is a great series," Dr Marko asserted. "There's a lot of excitement around the series. The crowds are looking good and the atmosphere around the series is really exciting. We like the atmosphere and the direction the series is heading. It's a much more exciting and attractive environment for us than some other racing series, including Formula 1. The ambience around the series and the way the fans are treated and embraced is what we like to see. You can be sure you will see us doing some very good things in this series."
I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Red Bull will announce both team and series sponsorship programs with Champ Car. In fact, Jerry Forsythe confirmed that the level of interest in the series is building rapidly. "A number of teams from other series have approached us and I'm very confident that you're going to see several teams join the Champ Car World Series for 2006," Forsythe said. 08/14/05 The Director of Motorsports for Red Bull, Helmut Marko (pictured right), who reports to Red Bull President Dietrich Mateschitz was making the rounds in Denver this weekend and we hear he was very pleasantly surprised at what he saw. Red Bull has used racing as their major marketing platform in many series from junior up to F1. With Champ Car having a worldwide reach much like F1, one would assume Red Bull has an eye on a bigger role in the Champ Car World Series. They already have a personal services contract with American AJ Allmendinger, and with Ryan Hunter-Reay a proven race winner, and the only American to win races the past two years, there is huge potential for Red Bull in Champ Car whose American events are successful and growing and with Champ Car starting to focus on the Pacific Rim (Korea, China, Japan) Champ Car presents opportunities Red Bull will, hopefully, find too good to pass up..