Champ Car community voices its support for OWRS ownership. INDIANAPOLIS (January 29, 2004) -- The open-wheel racing world received a shot of stability Wednesday afternoon with the ruling from the Honorable Frank J. Otte in U.S. Bankruptcy...
Champ Car community voices its support for OWRS ownership.
INDIANAPOLIS (January 29, 2004) -- The open-wheel racing world received a shot of stability Wednesday afternoon with the ruling from the Honorable Frank J. Otte in U.S. Bankruptcy Court which awarded the assets of the Champ Car World Series, including race contracts for the upcoming season, to the owners of Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS).
That ruling ensured that Champ Car will continue competition in 2004 and beyond, bringing its unique brand of turbocharged open-wheel racing to its multitudes of fans around the globe. The members of the Champ Car community, including drivers, team owners, sponsors and promoters, voiced their support of the decision on Thursday and what follows are quotes from many of those involved in the series.
(2003 Champ Car World Series Champion, Forsythe Racing)
"I was very, very happy to hear the news that OWRS won the Champ Car bid. The waiting game with all the questions and speculation is finally over. I am glad to say I'll be defending my Champ Car Championship and trying for another for Forsythe Racing in 2004! I am relieved to know where my future is and that's in Champ Car!"
(Team Rahal co-owner and three-time series champion)
"Over the course of my life, I have poured a lot of sweat, a lot of my soul and a great deal of my personal finances into CART. I understand, maybe better than many, due to my time as interim President and CEO of CART, the great challenges that face OWRS and the new CART. Champ Car has had a rocky few years, but I am extremely optimistic after my discussions with OWRS that their dedication and the business plan will mean better days are ahead. The last few months have been focused on courtrooms and legal jargon and not on the beauty of our sport. I hope that this decision allows us to move beyond jockeying for position on court dockets and allows us to begin to focus on fighting for position on track."
(1989 Champ Car World Series Champion)
"I think it's a historical day for racing, internationally. I think it was a great win for CART, for Open Wheel Racing. We have one of the best products in the world, for the sponsors, for the racing fans, for the drivers, for the teams, and I'm very happy and very glad that, in Indianapolis, we won from Tony George. I think we are going to give a great future to young talent, to new sponsors, and to the racing fans worldwide. I think that's the name of the game, to have a competitive series, to have a competitive championship and have a great show. We can supply that, and we can do that. I think there was tremendous pressure on everybody, including myself, because I'm trying to organize a team for next year, talking to different sponsors. I mean, literally, I have been flying all over the world. I was in Europe, I went to the Middle East, Latin America, United States, Brazil, and everybody said, 'well, wait to see what's going to happen.' I think it's fantastic news. Now we can go racing, and we can do what we want to do."
(Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport)
"Now that a court has helped clarify the OWRS future, we can focus again on what we do best -- meeting the technical challenges a tire supplier faces on a wide variety of racetracks. Bridgestone was pleased with our exposure and positioning as presenting sponsor of Champ Car in 2003. We are eager to finalize a similar agreement for 2004 since positive brand exposure for Bridgestone is a key objective of ours. One thing the fans can count on is Bridgestone being ready for the first Champ Car race of 2004 at Long Beach on April 18. We'll be ready to go there and all other races OWRS schedules for the year."
(2002 and 2003 Champ Car Runner-up, Newman/Haas Racing)
"I'm glad that the decision has been made and is now behind us so we can concentrate on what we do best and that is racing. There are many good events on the calendar and we can work to make them even better as well as improve on the others. I'm looking forward to going to Long Beach for the first race and I'm quite happy to be able to race in Canada, Mexico and Australia in addition to the United States."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR.
(2003 Molson Indy Montreal, Milwaukee Mile 250 winner, Team Rahal)
"The fact that the Champ Car World Series will continue into the future is great news. The people from OWRS are motivated and have devised a plan that will hopefully allow CART to regain or surpass the popularity it enjoyed in the early 90s. There is a lot of work to do to get ready for the season as we get ready to resume our battle for the championship."
(Director, Gigante Racing)
"Grupo Gigante and is very pleased with Judge Otte's resolution as it gives Champ Car another chance to showcase the demands of this premier open wheel racing series. We are big supporters of the versatility of the Champ Car World Series, from the unique mixture of road and street course races and ovals to the venues in Mexico, the United States and Canada. These combinations provide Michel [Jourdain Jr.] and his crew an opportunity to showcase their abilities in variety of tracks and in a variety of atmospheres. The ruling also assures the continuation of both Mexican Grand Prix races, will allows Grupo Gigante to share with our clients and vendors two of the premier sporting events in our country."
(Owner/Driver, Fernandez Racing)
"It's a good decision. It's great news for Champ Car. There's a lot of people who put a lot of effort behind it, and they're being rewarded by it. It's good for a lot of people, and a lot of teams are going to be able to race, and that's important. I'm happy for them. I'm happy that I'm going to be able to race again myself, otherwise it would have been very difficult. We had some Plan Bs, but they were not easy Plan Bs, so this is great news that I will be able to drive again and have all our employees in place and etc., etc. It's good news. It's been difficult for everybody just not knowing what you're going to do. That's always a difficult situation, with the sponsors, with everything, it's just very difficult. It's something that, now that it's over, it's a great relief. Now we can go ahead and work our way on what we need to do and everything, and get everything done. I've never been in this situation ever in my life, in my career. I mean, I've been in a situation of not finding sponsorship and things like that, but not in a situation where I was not sure about the series and all that, so it's great news."
(Winner Brands Hatch, German 500 and Cleveland Grand Prix, Newman/Haas Racing)
"I'm glad that we can now plan for the 2004 season. I'm looking forward to building on the 2003 results and returning to the tracks I competed on for the first time last year. I think the mix of road and street courses and ovals is a good one so I am happy that OWRS will continue that."
(General Manager, Newman/Haas Racing)
"From the beginning, Newman/Haas Racing has supported the efforts of OWRS to save the CART series and we welcome the news that OWRS has control of the assets needed for them to continue the great tradition that CART built. We are looking forward to being part of this new chapter of open wheel racing in North America. Newman/Haas Racing is well underway with preparations for our preseason test program which will be starting at Spring Training in early March, and everyone cannot wait for the season-opening Long Beach Grand Prix in April."
(2003 Grand Prix of Monterey Winner, Forsythe Racing)
"The OWRS victory in court is just unbelievable. I am thrilled! I was training in the morning on the 28th, and wondered if I was training for nothing or if we would have a series to run in by the end of the day. I was confident in OWRS and the series, but a little worried about all the business details. I thought it would be a real shame to lose all that Champ Car is, and the Atlantics series too. It's just too great a series to ever really lose. When I heard the news, I was almost in tears. It was such a huge relief! I love Champ Car racing and believe in it 100%."
(General Manager, Gold Coast Motor Events Corp.):
"It's a great result. For us, it's sort of a conclusion of six to eight months of hard toil. It's been very unnerving over the last 12 months or so. We always believed that Open Wheel Racing (Series) was the way to go, and that the guys were committed to continuing the series and had the series at heart. So it's important for us to come over and show our support and to hopefully contribute in some small way towards a victory. I think today, for them, must have been an incredibly satisfying day. For us, it's satisfying in a little small way, but for those guys who have lived and breathed it for a long time now, it must feel like finishing a marathon and breaking the ribbon. It's been a great day. A good fight is always a good indicator--often a lot of good things come out of a dispute, and I think it's probably brought people together within the CART community even a bit closer. It's strengthened relationships, and I think there will be a lot of good to come out of the ruling for Champ Car moving forward. There's an enormous sense of relief. Obviously, we've got staff and they've got families, and it's all about people, this business. No one likes to see anyone get laid off. I certainly think that the Gold Coast event is an integral part of the series, and we like to think that we put on a pretty good event and that you guys want to come down and like coming down. We work hard at wanting to make you come back. There's a sense of elation that, to some extent, there's closure. The thing now is that it's over to these guys, and with the help of a great team and staff at CART, I think there's no question that the series can grow into something that everyone can be really proud of."
(General Manager, PK Racing)
"PK Racing is excited to have the future of Champ Car in front of us. I want to thank Kevin, Paul and Gerry for their tremendous efforts in pulling this together on behalf of all Champ Car employees. Now that the issue is settled, we're looking forward to getting a start on our 2004 testing program. As a matter of fact, we are conducting our first seven-post rig test today in preparation for our first on-track test of the season February 3-4 in Sebring. With this decision, Champ Car has been given a great opportunity to regain its strength in the world of motorsports. I am confident that under the new owners, the series will not just survive; it will thrive."
(Managing Director, Herdez Competition)
"I think it's a great relief for a lot of teams that have invested so much into CART. I don't think anybody has a negative (view) towards any other series, just the same as there's always been merits to having one unified series. The problem is the way it's done. Of course, this situation we were faced with was going forward or not for a lot of us teams. Therefore, I think it was a very good outcome. I think we still have a fantastic series, and now focus on the tracks that want us, and the clear business plan of where we need to be going. I think it's great for everybody. I don't think anybody wants to go around in circles, let alone most of the people that are doing it at the moment. It gives us an opportunity to perform and it gives the new group the opportunity to perform, and now we have to perform and get it right this time. I guess, from a personal note, I've always been fairly headstrong on this program. It's been one of those periods where a lot of people either make excuses or, justifiably, sit on the fence, whether it be drivers to sponsors to everything. The last few weeks have gotten particularly difficult. Now, hopefully, we can get on with our job."
(2003 Lexmark Indy 300 Winner)
"It's just a huge relief, really, more than anything else. I've worked so hard to get up to this point, so have so many other people, and now it's really worth it. We're going forward for 2004, and I think it'll be a really strong season. Whatever you want to call it, the founders of OWRS, Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi, (Gerald) Forsythe, I really have to thank them for making it all possible. Now, I can't wait to try and win races next year. I've never experienced it before, being that frustrated. Even if I did want to go forward, I couldn't because we had to wait 'til this date. It's been such a roller coaster emotionally, not being able to really know where my fate was. I mean, I was in Indianapolis, and it felt like I was either going to be sentenced to jail or set free, and now I feel like I'm running."
(Driver, Rocketsports Racing)
"Champ Car has come out on top where it belongs! I have every confidence in Paul Gentilozzi - He's the man! I'm very proud to be racing in a series directed and owned by the gentlemen of OWRS - Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe. Our primary team sponsor, Johnson Controls, stood by Rocketsports and remained confident in Paul and the Champ Car series. Now we're all business! ...So when do we go testing?"
(President and CEO of GRAND)
"I think the most significant thing today is that all the employees of CART and all the fans of CART, this is a big victory of them. I think what gives the CART new owners, Forsythe, Kalkhoven, and Gentilozzi the energy was the spirit of the CART employees and the spirit of 2.4 million fans this year. For them, I'm happy. The other thing I'm happy about is to put to rest all the political and financial issues, so now CART can go forward with OWRS privately and can make decisions and not have to worry about a board, not have to worry about shareholders. I think that's a huge step for Jerry and for Kevin and for Paul. For us in Mexico, it's just huge, because the Mexican economy is not as strong as the U.S. and racing is the second most popular sport. For our sponsors, and our drivers, and our fans, it's just a huge day. Right now, the most important thing is--I think what won the day was a fair judge who, even though he didn't know racing, somehow or another, he felt the energy of CART and OWRS and their sincerity. That sincerity, as the day went on, became credibility, and that won the day. I think the judge made a tough decision. You always go to a hometown--and even though CART's located in Indianapolis, it is an IRL town--and to be able to do that and get the fairness of the judicial system together with the happiness of the CART fans and OWRS, that's a great day. Now, we have about 120 days to promote the Monterrey race, so we're happy with the decision today."
(Driver Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing)
"I just think it (the court's ruling) was a great result. OWRS won the ruling and will save Champ Car which I think is the best and most complete racing series in the world. I'm looking forward to competing again and think the series will be more successful than ever with the new owners."
(Driver Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing)
"Well, obviously I think it's a great result for CART, fans and the entire CART community. I think it's only fair that we keep the championship alive, it's the best, and most exciting road racing series in the world and it definitely has its place. I'm glad for everyone and I'm really looking forward to starting the season again."