Where Champ Car is lacking

UPDATE Another reader adds, As usual AutoRacing1.com readers are right on the money about Champ Car. Champ Car has not spent a dollar on marketing- EVER. Maybe part of the reason is that Kalkhoven and Forsythe come from a business-to-business background and don't have a clue how to run an entertainment business or a sport. The reader who gave the IRL props for at least getting in the paper is 100% correct. One article after another implying or predicting Champ Car's demise is out in print and the Champ Car PR people are nowhere to be found-EVER? Champ Car can say that their "street festivals" are huge – and they are as far as events go, I have been going to Champ Car races since 1993. But how are the teams suppose to attract sponsors when the series is invisible – would McDonald's be in Champ Car if it wasn't for Paul Newman? Brian Kellione

Dear Brian, While it would be unfair to say that Champ Car does no marketing or PR whatsoever, the amount that it does clearly is a small fraction of what the series needs for it to prosper as a sport. However, it's a chicken and egg problem. Big-name drivers attract fans and sponsors, but they want to get paid to drive. Marketing and PR also costs money which in turn will generate sponsors and money, but where does the series get $50M per year to start the ball rolling? Hence why we said the series is in dire need of a new investor or sponsor that will give the series the seed money necessary to get the egg to hatch into a chicken. Mark C.

03/20/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have to say that one thing which Tony George's crowd has figured out, which Champ Car still hasn't gotten, is the whole field of PR. Kind of like some past presidents (insert names of your own choosing), who were able to convince people that everything was great when it was really going down the drain.

One specific lesson I see being played out again and again… the IRL has figured out that getting their name in the papers is almost always a good thing. Hence, the almost daily news blurbs about the most miniscule and mundane things in the IRL realm. If an IRL driver participates in a small-town charity go-kart race, it gets a blurb (if not a full write-up). I hate to say it, but this is what Champ Car needs to do, too. That's how you get name recognition, cheap. Dave L., Los Angeles, CA

Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Another week gone by, Spring Training is a distant memory and STILL no announcement from either Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing or Champ Car regarding Graham Rahal? What first appeared to be another big Champ Car coup is now more fuel on the fire that Champ Car does not have its act together. Perhaps Champ Car is a little gun shy about Graham Rahal abandoning Champ Car after one year just like his former CART CEO dad did when Bobby left for F1 (disastrously, I might add)? Why wouldn't Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) just add a third IRL car for his son? Or maybe something bigger is looming and holding the deal up, including Champ Car opening up May for a Ganassi and RLR switch to Champ Car next year, bringing with them their old IRL cars for Indy-only runs. Richard Huffman, Missoula, Montana

Dear Richard, Champ Car needs a major infusion of cash from another investor or from sponsors before any teams are going to come into Champ Car. Currently it is running on the minimum budget that it can to survive, hence Champ Car appears to the media (evidence – numerous doom and gloom articles recently) and to fans and other constituents that it is teetering on the brink of self destruction. Sure Champ Car's new owners have spent a lot of money to bring it back from bankruptcy, but it's going to need to land some major sponsors (both team and series) before the predictions of death stop. Mark C.

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