CHAMPCAR/CART: Pook elected CART President and CEO

Detroit: (December 19, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that its Board of Directors elected motorsports veteran Christopher R. Pook to serve as its new president and chief executive officer, reporting...

Detroit: (December 19, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that its Board of Directors elected motorsports veteran Christopher R. Pook to serve as its new president and chief executive officer, reporting directly to the Board of Directors.


Chris Pook . Photo: TGPLB

Pook, the founder of the renowned Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, will take office immediately, replacing Joseph F. Heitzler who served as CART's president since December of last year. Heitzler will remain a member of the Board of Directors and continue to serve as Chairman of the Board.

"The board believes that Mr. Pook has the experience in the motorsports industry necessary to guide CART during these critical times," said James Grosfeld, a member of the Board's search committee. "His reputation in the industry, significant shareholder support and outstanding business accomplishments made Mr. Pook the logical candidate for this position. We believe that Mr. Pook has the necessary skills and contacts to immediately make a positive impact on the Company and our sport. We expect and will demand results from Chris, and similarly, he expects and will receive our support as he leads this Company forward."

"Today's decision by the Board will allow CART to truly focus on building the long-anticipated shareholder value that we know CART has the potential to achieve," Heitzler said. "With our new television package [with CBS and Fox Cable Networks, including Speedvision/Speed Channel] and new race venues [in Denver, Mexico City, Montreal], together with Chris' expertise, this will place CART in an excellent position for a successful future in 2002 and beyond. We need to all join together to realize the full potential of CART."

Pook, 60, arrives at CART from the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Inc., where he served as president and chief executive officer. The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: DVD).

"I am delighted to accept this appointment and grateful for the vote of confidence and trust placed in me by the CART Board of Directors," Pook said. "A great deal of potential exists within CART as a business organization and a motorsports property, and I will immediately introduce some of the proven business disciplines and practices that have served me well throughout my career in order to bring CART to a new level of success. The entire CART community currently finds itself in a very challenging environment, but it is my goal to quickly develop an energized business plan and management team to lead the organization in a direction beneficial for CART, its teams and drivers, promoters, manufacturers/suppliers as well as our corporate sponsors and shareholders.

"I must also express my grateful thanks to Denis McGlynn, CEO of Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc., for releasing me from my contract. DVD is a dynamic organization that has great potential and I have enjoyed working with them for the past three-and-a-half years. The fact that CART and DVD are cooperating on both Long Beach and Denver race events, and hopefully on other potential venues, will allow me to stay in touch with my 'old' colleagues at Long Beach with whom I have enjoyed such tremendous loyalty and support over the past 27 years. We built that company together as a team - now I need to get my arms around the folks in the CART office and build a similar team of energized and dedicated individuals who will execute on the game plan and be winners."

Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc.'s President and Chief Executive Officer Denis McGlynn remarked: "We could not envision an individual better suited to lead CART and are truly delighted for Chris. Dover Downs appreciates the many contributions Chris made to the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach over the years. We are also pleased to announce several new initiatives with CART that will allow us to continue working very closely with CART and with Chris in the years to come. In addition to the new Grand Prix of Denver announced last quarter, we have just signed a letter-of-intent with CART for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, are in discussions relative to new races at our Nashville and St. Louis facilities, and have secured two one-year renewal options to our CART sanction agreement for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. In addition, CART has awarded us 'preferred promoter' status for the next three years to pursue CART-sanctioned street events in several major metropolitan areas."

Pook, a native of Somerset, England, made his initial impact on the motorsports world by fostering and developing the idea for the annual Long Beach Grand Prix, the first post-World War II actual city circuit Grand Prix in the United States.

In 1973, Pook conceived the idea of running a world-class automobile race through the city streets of Long Beach, and his dream was realized when the initial event, a Formula 5000 event, was staged in September 1975. The event's concept and success attracted the illustrious Formula One racing series and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach evolved into an annual event on the World Championship Grand Prix circuit for eight years.

Following the 1983 event, Pook made a decision to change the format of the Long Beach Grand Prix from Formula One to CART Champ Cars, the fastest growing automobile series in the world. Within days of the Long Beach announcement, events in the New Jersey/New York area, Portland and Las Vegas were announced, and today the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has developed into one of the marquee events in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

In 1996, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Inc., with Pook as president and chief executive officer, completed an initial public stock offering, and also acquired tracks in St. Louis and Memphis. In 1998, the company was purchased by Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. Pook has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. since 1998.

Pook was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, is co-chair of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and is chairman of the board of the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Pook holds degrees in Modern Languages (French and Spanish - he is fluent in both languages) from La Sorbonne in France and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Sales Promotion from the University of London.

Pook and his wife, Ellen, have three children, Michele (33 years old), David (29) and Andrew (24).

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season kicks off March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico and the 19-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS and Fox Cable Networks Group, including Speedvision/Speed Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: DVD) operates a multi-purpose entertainment complex conducting NASCAR auto racing, pari-mutuel harness horse racing, pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast harness and thoroughbred horse races and video lottery (slot) machine operations in Dover, Delaware. The Company owns and operates the Nashville Superspeedway and operates the historic Nashville Speedway at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tennessee; organizes and promotes the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California; and owns and operates Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis Motorsports Park near Memphis, Tennessee. The Company also organizes and promotes the Denver Grand Prix beginning in 2002.

This release contains or may contain forward-looking statements based on management's beliefs and assumptions. Such statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties which could cause results to vary materially. Please refer to the Company's SEC filings for a discussion of such factors.

-cart/dvd-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series AUTOMOTIVE , INDYCAR