INDIANAPOLIS (January 16, 2003) - The city of Cleveland has seen more than its share of innovations over the years. It was in Cleveland where Alan Freed first coined the term 'Rock and Roll', an act that led many years later to the establishment of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was also in Cleveland in 1967 where voters elected the first African-American mayor of a major American city. Those innovations continued in 1982 when CART built the first temporary racing circuit on its calendar, turning its Burke Lakefront Airport into a 2.106-mile corral where 200-mph racing machines could stretch their legs.
The only circuit of its kind in the United States, the Burke Lakefront Airport track will make history again when the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford makes its 22nd appearance on the North Coast - with a night race under the lights.
"Cleveland is making history," said IMG Motorsports President Bud Stanner. "Our announcement is the first of its kind in the world in both magnitude and scope. This truly puts Cleveland at the head of the pack and will add tremendous excitement for our sponsors and race fans."
The July 3-5 weekend featuring the US Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix Champ Car World Series, has been a fixture on the CART calendar since 1982 when local hero Bobby Rahal won the inaugural event. The race is guaranteed to be a fixture for even longer with today's announcement, which includes a five-year extension for the popular race.
"Cleveland Champ Car fans will be thrilled to know that the city has renewed its lease with CART and IMG for five more years," said Cleveland Mayor Jane L. Campbell. "This year's innovative night race will certainly increase the success of this event and we anticipate it bringing even more fans to Cleveland for a weekend of excitement."
The race that is known as The Roar by The Shore gets the 'at night' designation added to it this year, a fact that excites defending race champion Patrick Carpentier of Player's/Forsythe Racing as he considers the possibility of careening through the maze of airport runways under electric light.
"I'm really excited about the move to a night race," Carpentier said. "I've never raced at night in my CART career or in any other racing, but I go see other forms of racing such as the World of Outlaws and it's a really great show. The track is so wide open that it should be even better for us at night and will definitely add more excitement to it. I'm sure it will be every bit as exciting for the fans as it will be for the drivers."
The July 5 event will be run under the lights as world-renowned Musco Lighting will turn the airport runways into what will be the world's largest outdoor lighting project. Musco, which has lent its temporary and permanent lighting facilities to events ranging from The Olympic Games to rock concerts, will erect 22 lighting towers to illuminate the racing circuit. By way of comparison, Musco states that a typical college football game requires four towers, Ground Zero in New York required five towers, and the Battle of Big Horn outdoor golf match required eight towers.
"This is by far the largest mobile lighting challenge we've ever taken on," said Musco President Joe Crookham. "These twenty-two trucks, generators and lighting systems will create as much light as nearly a half-million car headlights."
The night race will give fans a new view of what is already one of the most unique spectator venues in all of motorsports. The Cleveland layout is the only two-mile circuit in the United States where fans can see the entire track from their bleacher seats. The event has become the centerpiece of the July 4 weekend in Cleveland and annually draws over 100,000 fans to the track over the three days of competition.
"We wanted to do something to stimulate even more interest in what has always been a very successful event in Cleveland," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "The spectacular lighting of the track will spark interest from not only all the great Champ Car fans of Cleveland, but also every person that passes by the track on the highway for the days leading up to the event."
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. 2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta led a list of open-wheel stars this past season competing with teams such as Newman/Haas Racing, Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal, Fernandez Racing, Patrick Racing, Herdez Competition, Walker Racing and others. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 19-race 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will be broadcast by television partners CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.