Champ Car questions from overseas

A reader writes, Dear, I wish you a successful and happy 2006. Each year I guess why Champ Car is not able to fill their grid early. As of today there are only a few confirmed drivers. Probably we will know the last drivers once again in Long Beach – the first race of the year. You wrote that there are many drivers failing to get rides in F1 who are looking to Champ Car. I do not see this. A lot of those drivers are going to other series like GP2, DTM, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Nippon and even F1 test drive. Let us hope that the starting grid is as strong as 2005. Do you know anything about European TV-coverage for 2006? Alexander Besserer, Karlsruhe, Germany

Dear Alexander, Champ Car teams can't hire drivers yet because they have no sponsorship and are, therefore, hoping to find funded drivers to fill their empty seats. The inability of most teams, and the series itself for that matter, to land their own sponsorship remains the major downfall of the series. Drivers, therefore, look to all those other series first because they have an opportunity to get paid to drive rather than paying for the drive. F1 teams also hire funded drivers, but primarily that is for test drives as most regular F1 drivers get paid to drive.

Champ Car could easily ensure that all the best funded drivers in the world look to Champ Car first, before say F1. How? If the Atlantic champion will earn $2 million in 2006, why does the Champ Car champion earn under $1 million? The Champ Car champion should earn $5 million, or dare we say $10 million, i.e. significantly more than the Atlantic champion. This opportunity to recoup your entire investment will draw drivers and new teams into the series like bees to honey, just like we see in Atlantics. The stipulation for winning the $5 or $10 million should be that the money stays in Champ Car and the champion must return to the series the following year to defend their title, with a portion of the money going to the team they drive for, the rest in the drivers bank account as earnings. Likewise, the Champ Car rookie of the year should earn at least $2 million with the same stipulation that the money remain in the series the following year.

How will Champ Car afford to offer lucrative payouts like this? By landing sponsors who will pay naming rights for having their name on the award. However, as we said before, the Achilles Tendon of the series is lack of sponsorship. There are three short months until the first race in Long Beach, let's see how many new sponsors the series is able to announce by then.

As for European TV coverage for Champ Car in 2006, we assume it will be on Eurosport again as most were reasonably satisfied last year with TV coverage in Europe. Mark C.

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