CHAMPCAR/CART: 2005 schedule announcement transcript (part 2)

Continued in part 1 Q: So I understand, is Vancouver off the schedule this year or is there a chance there still could be a Vancouver race this year? JOE CHRNELICH: To answer your question it's currently not on the schedule that we have ...

Continued in part 1

Q: So I understand, is Vancouver off the schedule this year or is there a chance there still could be a Vancouver race this year?

JOE CHRNELICH: To answer your question it's currently not on the schedule that we have physically standing here before everybody. The discussions are ongoing, however.

Q: Can you give any light what the discussions are centered around? As you well know this is a very popular race, draws a very large crowd. What seems to be the problem?

JOE CHRNELICH: The thing we may have touched on earlier with the Olympics coming down the pike, it clearly has taken a lot of the focus away, and rightfully so, not only us but from other things in town, to start working in preparation for the Olympics. That's a massive effort and a massive event. Obviously the city has to remain focused on it and to start looking at direction in terms of making sure ends meet and that they put on a great show.

Consequently that's created some problems for us in terms of the event or attention towards the event, and at the end of the day when we do an agreement with a promoter we have got to make sure it makes sense for everybody involved and unfortunately the added element of the Olympics here has created a little bit more -- put a little bit more pressure on that agreement between all three of the parties here. So we're trying to work our way through it but at the end of the day what I did comment on is if for some reason it does not happen, we think Vancouver is a great market, been very supportive and there's no reason to think that we couldn't after the Olympics come back to the table again and talk about returning to the market.

Q: Are you optimistic that there will be a race there this year?

JOE CHRNELICH: Right now it's probably a 50/50 proposition at best.

Q: When will you guys allow a sneak preview and where?

DICK EIDSWICK: Talking about having the spring training and the preview of the season probably the end of February out in the Western part of the United States somewhere.

Q: What is the current situation with title sponsors/presenting sponsors as of today?

DICK EIDSWICK: Sponsorship of the series is -- we have been focusing on the partners that we have in Ford and Bridgestone and the rest of our valued sponsors and we have been working with a number of new ones, interesting sponsors like McDonalds, and we're hopeful that we'll have a title sponsor in the very near future.

Q: Two questions. First, regarding Laguna Seca they have reached a schedule with a tentative date of September 11. Is that what is being discussed? Second question, is nothing in the southeast or east are there any discussions ongoing about those areas?

JOE CHRNELICH: First of all, you are correct the date is September 11 with Laguna Seca. Consistent with their posting of the schedule we are, as we have said, in negotiations. In terms of southeastern destinations, I wouldn't look for anything in 2005. We have one that might possibly pop on which we can't comment any further on. What I would tell you though is even though '05 may or may not be likely, '06 you will see some very intense focus on getting us back on the map in that region.

Q: Following up, on the spring training, a site for that, is that contingent on what you accomplish with Laguna Seca?

DICK EIDSWICK: Not necessarily. We're going to pick a site out in the Western part of the United States that works for the teams and works for us and particularly as a good location for the press, but it has no connection to the race in Laguna Seca.

Q: When you say Silicon Valley, that means like San Jose, they talk so much about San Jose?

DICK EIDSWICK: The site in Silicon Valley is not firm yet. San Jose is certainly one of the alternatives. We will announce that whenever it's clear.

Q: Las Vegas would be during the night?

JOE CHRNELICH: Currently, that's the discussions we're having with the promoter. So if things work out according to the deal that we have on the table right now that would be the situation, yes.

Q: There is 42 days from Long Beach to Monterey. Anyway you can fill her or you just leave empty in that way?

DICK EIDSWICK: We agree with you there's a big gap in there and of course, the races that we're looking at right now, we would like very much to fill that gap.

Q: Anyway that you can just give us some hint about Brazil, Argentina, in Europe, England and Germany?

DICK EIDSWICK: South America is a very good market for us because we have a lot of interest in Champ Car Racing down there and we have a large TV audience and we have a number of drivers from South America so we're working very hard to have a race in South America next year. It is unlikely that in 2005 we'll have a race in Europe.

Q: What about the great northeastern part of the U.S.A., New York, Philadelphia, anything in that area?

JOE CHRNELICH: Any in all of the above. We think that area, whether it be New York, Philadelphia, could be a Washington D.C., I mean, that whole sector is very, very important to us rounding out our schedule ultimately over time. We're having discussions with -- in some of those markets already but that will be '06. It's safe to say that it's clearly in our sights. We think we need to be there. Provided discussions go well and we find the right partners, that can occur.

Q: Was there any negotiations going on in China or other countries in Asia that you can talk about?

DICK EIDSWICK: There have been negotiations with other countries in Asia, yes. We would like very much to have a race in China and we have an agent over there and even though the process takes time, we would like to have one in 2006. It's unlikely that we'll have one in 2005.

Q: You talk about how the negotiations are continuing and with the idea that it does take a while for these races. I am calling kind of asking you about Vancouver in particular, at what point do you stop negotiations with them and say, listen, we just can't get it done this year and we'll maybe try after the Olympics, how long do you negotiate with them?

JOE CHRNELICH: I would say we will know going into November. The discussions are pretty much down to the fine point, either we're going to be able to make it work or not. Clearly we need to respect our fans in Vancouver, we need to arrive at a decision between all the parties. I wouldn't look at that lingering too much longer.

Q: There's a couple of dates that I didn't hear. Dates for Silicon Valley and date for Surfer's Paradise?

JOE CHRNELICH: Surfer's Paradise October 23rd. Silicon Valley July 31.

Q: You talk about making this a complete World Series. What seems to be the problem with you guys getting something locked down for Europe?

JOE CHRNELICH: I think first and for most, what you have got to do is make sure you have a good solid partner, meaning a promoter; somebody that wants to put the event on; make sure they have the proper venue; make sure the demographics of the market match our product. I mean, there are a lot of considerations that go on into play here. Relative to Europe, we know we want to be in Europe some day again. But the last thing we want to do - and this is a bit of a new philosophy, I believe, for our company - and that is we want to make the decisions on markets where we know we have long-term potential for success. Whether it's us or any other league, you have always got to be careful to avoid just popping into a market and then leaving. That's not how we're going to operate moving forward.

So the point in time we find a solid partner and location in Europe - and believe me in the course of my day, I get a lot of calls from around the world saying, we're interested - we keep those discussions going, but there are high water marks that have to be met where we actually get serious in discussions. So the best thing we can do internally is to structure different regions around the world where we think our product will be strongest; where we think the market has a lot of openness to it, if you will.

We don't want -- if possible, avoid crowded markets. Because that's not good for anybody. And it doesn't happen in a year, it doesn't happen in 90 days, you start to see the makings of a schedule that really makes sense from a logistics standpoint, from a World Series standpoint, and pretty soon over time - and that's probably another year, maybe two years - you are going to start to see every market we're in makes sense for everybody involved; whether it be the city, the promoter, fans, the organization and our team owners. As I said, there's a lot of variables to take into consideration, but that's the kind of thought process we need to put into it and I think it's unfair for us just to declare an area and say, oh, yeah, we're going to be there when in fact we're not convinced we have got the right partner there. It's just not fair to the community. That's a long-winded answer to your question but that's our firm belief in how we're going to operate moving forward.

Q: Dick, when you get your title sponsorship, is that going to be stuck in between the Bridgestone presents, the so an so Champ Car World Series powered by Ford or are you going to make it short enough that you can do it in one breath?

DICK EIDSWICK: I like your thinking on that point. Yes, we are going to make it so that we can say it in one breath.

Q: You seem to be heavily weighted toward out of U.S. market. Do you have some kind of weighting that you use to say that our fan base is here or here and that we set our races up in those areas?

DICK EIDSWICK: We do have a very strong fan base in the United States, but we also have a big one in other parts of the world. We're looking for a balance, looking for a balance of exciting international venues where our international drivers can show off their skills. At the same time, we know that we need at least half of our races in the United States because many of our sponsors are domiciled in the United States so it's a balance that we have and we want to put on a good show for all of our fans and we think that a 50/50 balance is about right.

Q: Is your television going to be set up to be more internationally based this time?

DICK EIDSWICK: We're working on an international distribution that's much better next year than it was this year, yes.

Q: So it would be a different company than who was doing it this year?

DICK EIDSWICK: That's right.

Q: I am getting a little conflicting information here. I wanted to clear up the Vegas date if I could. I believe on the schedule you have posted on your web site you have September 25th. Which would be a Sunday. Joe said September 24. He also said it would be a day race. So is it going to be a Saturday night doubleheader with the trucks or a Sunday stand-alone?

JOE CHRNELICH: First of all, let my say, the calendar, it was my mistake. It's the 24th, and I also owe Chris Powell an apology on that, we talked last night, but the 24th is the date. It is a night race. My earlier reference to a day race was Milwaukee.

Q: With IRL competing now in the street races, how important is this year for Champ Car and how much are you looking forward to it?

JOE CHRNELICH: Answer the second question first, we're really looking forward to next year. I mean, obviously with the new ownership group, racing right out of the gate into a series, it's been a sprint, to say the least. What's exciting about next year - we actually had the luxury of planning - some advanced thought and getting a lot of the agreements and things in place ahead of time. So it will be much more of a relaxed year, if you will. Could never be relaxed in this business, but -- so we're very excited as an organization about it.

As to the IRL, I can tell you that our approach here as a new company is to focus on our business. We have a business model we believe works. The numbers show it. We're going to grow that business model. The IRL and Tony, in particular, has a business model in mind which is all domestic based even though there's some discussion about breaking outside that model. The fact that they are stretching into some of our either former destinations or want to look at street or road courses, I think speaks to the strength of our business model. We believe in our model. We believe it can work as a business. And the IRL, they have got to make decisions on their own. We wish them well. And a lot of respect for Tony, but at the end of the day we need to focus our attention on Champ Car. And where we're headed as an organization and our product and I think if we do that, that will bode well for all our stakeholders and also I think it will start to clear the open-wheel market a little bit so people understand clearly who we are and clearly what we want to do and IRL, if they need to evolve, again, that's their decision and we wish them well with it.

Q: Go back to the Laguna issue. I don't know why Laguna is not on the schedule. I don't know what the issues are whether or not they are coming back. But if it has to do with the market, and the dwindling crowds, what makes the Silicon Valley race any better when it's only 50 miles away and Laguna is an internationally known road circuit that's loved by everybody and Silicon Valley would be a street race?

JOE CHRNELICH: Obviously Laguna Seca has had a long relationship with us, as one of our destinations. It's very unique in that it's tucked up in the hills. It's clearly a different setting and a feel to it than a street course in an urban setting. So when you talk about the two, there are very clear distinctions between the two. And from our position we have got to look at all the variables on it. (A) is that -- can it work moving forward, can it work for everybody involved. Again I keep stressing balance when we do agreements with our markets. It has to work both ways for everybody. If it's slanted or tilted too hard one way and not the other, it just doesn't work. That doesn't lend stability for our company in moving forward. So it's our responsibility to try and work through those things. And ultimately at the end of the day does it make for some tough decisions? Yes. There are going to be some tough decisions we have to make, but at the end of the day, that's why we're here. We are a business, we need to grow and if we're healthy we can make sure our partners are healthy as well.

Q: I guess what I don't understand it's the same geographic area. They are only 45 minutes apart. Are the markets for a street race and market for a road circuit in the same area that different?

DICK EIDSWICK: The two are quite different. One of them is, as you say, 50 miles away. It's not near a populated area. If you look at Champ Car's most successful events, they are three-day festivals. They are marquis events that include a number of things besides the star of the show which is the Champ Car race, by stretching the race into three action-packed days, the venues attract hundreds of thousands of people. And one of the issues with Laguna Seca is that I agree with you it's a beautiful world-class road circuit that everyone likes and we would like very much to be there. But it's much different than an urban setting. Silicon Valley race is designed to be an urban festival.

Q: I want clarification with the Long Beach Grand Prix. Is that going to be the start of the Champ Car World Series season?

JOE CHRNELICH: The answer is yes.

Q: You made a statement before that the ideal schedule would be between 16 and 18 races. When do you see yourself getting there? Could that happen in 2005?

DICK EIDSWICK: I think 16 races is a worthy target for 2005. Probably takes longer than that to get to 18.

ERIC MAUK:: That's all we have from the phone. Turn it back over to Wendy.

MODERATOR::  Any other questions from Indianapolis here? I think this will
conclude today's teleconference and press conference.  We thank all the
members of the media for joining us today.  We appreciate your ongoing
support.  We look forward to seeing you in Mexico City and in 2005 and
beyond.  Thank you very much for joining us today.

-ccws-

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