CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago race back on schedule

CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago race back on schedule

CART to Promote 2002 Race at Chicago Motor Speedway; Self-Promotion a First for CART of an Existing Event CHICAGO (March 4, 2002) - Reinforcing its commitment to major league open-wheel auto racing in the greater Chicago area, Championship ...

CART to Promote 2002 Race at Chicago Motor Speedway; Self-Promotion a First for CART of an Existing Event

CHICAGO (March 4, 2002) - Reinforcing its commitment to major league open-wheel auto racing in the greater Chicago area, Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that it will lease Chicago Motor Speedway and internally promote the CART Grand Prix of Chicago at the one-mile oval track on June 30, 2002 (CBS-TV, 3:30 p.m. EDT)

The CART track lease, the first for an existing race event on the CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, comes less than one month after facility principals suspended 2002 auto racing events at the Cicero, Illinois track.

"We are of the strong opinion that the great race fans and sponsor corporations of the FedEx Championship Series located in the Chicago area want and deserve a CART Champ Car event and we plan on delivering just that," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, who founded and operated the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for more than 20 years before joining CART late last year. "This is nothing short of a major commitment to the Chicago marketplace by Championship Auto Racing Teams and we are determined to make this event a success. The fact that we will be responsible for the promotion and operation of this event fits perfectly within our new business model at CART."

In the new arrangement, CART will have use of the Speedway facility located at Sportsman's Park but will provide all management personnel and administrative operations. This includes all ticketing, sponsorship and hospitality sales, venue operations and the various administrative functions of operating a race event and facility. Pook has appointed Rena Shanaman, CART Vice President of Joint Venture Operations, to run the Chicago operation.

Rena Shanaman.
Photo by Bob Kozel.

"Championship Auto Racing Teams has thousands of loyal fans and numerous valued sponsors in the Chicago region that should be able to enjoy a CART race in their hometown," Shanaman said. "Although it will be a challenging assignment, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to once again deliver a great event experience, featuring CART's unique brand of racing, to the people of Chicago."

Chicago Motor Speedway officials were encouraged by the unique agreement with CART.

"We are entirely in favor of CART's decision to move forward with a FedEx Championship Series race at Chicago Motor Speedway this summer and will do whatever we can to support what we believe will be a successful and innovative approach to the management of this event," said Chicago Motor Speedway CEO Gene Haskett. "We have a lot of faith in CART under Chris Pook's management and he clearly has incredible experience and success in the promoter side of the business."

Today's announcement ensures that a CART FedEx Championship Series race will be held at Chicago Motor Speedway for the fourth consecutive year. The CART series was featured in the debut event at the facility in 1999 and the race was won by that year's eventual series champion Juan Montoya.

Current FedEx Championship Series driver Cristiano da Matta earned his win at Chicago in 2000 while fellow CART Champ Car star Kenny Brack won last year's race. Both da Matta and Brack will return to Chicago in 2002 in addition to top FedEx Championship Series drivers Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Dario Franchitti, Paul Tracy, Adrian Fernandez, Max Papis, Tony Kanaan, Patrick Carpentier and others.

The Chicago event marks the first time that CART has self-promoted a scheduled race in its annual calendar. The organization previously operated the Inaugural U.S. 500 at Michigan International Speedway in May of 1996, although that event was announced several months after that year's schedule was unveiled. Shanaman also served as CART's General Manager for that event.

The Chicago track lease follows last Thursday's announcement in Cleveland that CART will join IMG as a promotional partner in the 21st annual Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland FedEx Championship Series race that will be held at Burke Lakefront Airport, July 14. Championship Auto Racing Teams is also serving as a joint-venture partner with a new FedEx Championship Series race in Denver, Sept. 1.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART 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, FOX, and 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.

Statements made in this release that state CART's or management's beliefs or expectations and which are not historical facts or which apply prospectively are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that CART's actual results could differ materially from those contained or implied by such forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in CART's SEC filings including, but not limited to, the 10-K and subsequent 10-Q's.

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Series INDYCAR
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta
Teams ART Grand Prix