CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Pre-race notes

The winning driver in Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota isn't the only person who could end the day $1 million richer. Some lucky fan could also become an instant millionaire during CART's "Million Dollar Payday" as a result of CART's ...

The winning driver in Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota isn't the only person who could end the day $1 million richer. Some lucky fan could also become an instant millionaire during CART's "Million Dollar Payday" as a result of CART's first-ever major consumer promotion.

Earlier this month, 10 million scratch-off game cards for the "Million Dollar Payday" became available at participating FedEx World Ship Centers, Firestone, Kmart and Penske Auto Center outlets around the country (except in New York). The scratch-off cards offer a lucky fan the opportunity to win $1 million during the ESPN broadcast of Sunday's race. Additional supporters of the "Million Dollar Payday" include Toyota, MCI, Mercedes-Benz and PPG.

At three separate times during the ESPN telecast, which begins at 3:30 p.m. ET., a winning symbol will be revealed on the screen. If a consumer holds the scratch-off card which matches all three symbols, he or she will win $1 million. Fans attending the race at California Speedway will also receive game cards to play along on-site.

Two second-prize winners will receive the opportunity to drive the same 900-horsepower Champ Cars driven by Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), defending champion of the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota, and Mauricio Gugelmin (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) who recorded the fastest lap in auto racing history - 240.942 miles per hour - while winning the pole position for last year's inaugural Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway. Three third-prize winners will receive all-expenses-paid trips to the 1999 Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota.

"Our overall objective is to create presence and awareness for the FedEx Championship Series," said Carl Cohen, CART's executive vice president of marketing. "We believe this program will introduce our form of racing to new fans and reinforce our commitment to current fans."

The "Million Dollar Payday" has been supported with multi-page advertisements in People magazine, ESPN magazine and Sports Illustrated. Additionally, 10-page special insert will appear in USA Today this Thursday.

* SIGN ON THE DOTTED SIDEPOD

In conjunction with Bobby Rahal's final FedEx Championship Series career start in Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota, several hundred fans are being offered a unique opportunity to be part of "Rahal's Last Ride." For a minimum cash donation of $25 to the Bobby Rahal Foundation, fans attending the race will be allowed to sign one of two special four-square-foot decals which will be mounted on Rahal's Miller Lite Reynard Ford for his final drive. Many of the signatures will be in view of the in-car camera mounted on the car's roll hoop and may be seen during ESPN's live race broadcast, which begins 3:30 p.m. ET. All donors will receive an autographed photo of Rahal and the car as a memento. "This is a great chance for a number or our race fans to be part of history, to say 'goodbye' and 'thank you' to Bobby, and to support the altruistic work of his foundation," said CART Chairman and CEO Andrew Craig, a board member of the Rahal Foundation. "This unique program is yet another reason our season finale will be one to watch." The Bobby Rahal Foundation is a not-for-profit endowment created by Rahal to generate and distribute charitable funds raised during his final season as a driver. The foundation will identify worthwhile organizations within CART's 1998 race markets to share foundation donations at the conclusion of the season. Fans interested in sponsoring "Rahal's Last Ride" may sign up Saturday at the Team Rahal merchandise trailer behind the California Speedway's main grandstand.

* MONTOYA CONCLUDES FIRST PHASE OF TEST

Juan Pablo Montoya, who replaces two-time FedEx Championship Series champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) with the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team next season, completed the road-course portion of his first test with the team last Friday at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Montoya, a 23-year-old Colombian who tested for the Formula One Winfield Williams team this season, logged 294 miles on the 2.18-mile permanent road course, 233 of them coming on Friday. No times or speeds were released. "So far, I'm really happy," Montoya said. "The car felt a little different than the ones I am used to, but it wasn't too difficult. I think I took the car pretty close to its limits, except for in a few of the corners. I was a bit off in the braking, because these brakes are quite different than a Formula One car, but overall, I felt really good." Managing Director Tom Anderson of Target/Ganassi commended Montoya's performance. "We couldn't be happier. Juan Pablo has a tremendous amount of natural talent. He's very intelligent, has a good feel for the car and he expresses himself very well in terms of what he's experiencing in the car. We ran him through a variety of things, including some general car evaluations, a full-tank run, some pit-stop practices and a race-start situation. We gave him an overall view of some of the things that happen during a race, and he did very, very well."

* INSIDE THE BROADCAST

ESPN's broadcast of the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota will rank with the largest and most complex television productions undertaken in any sport. It will utilize 55 cameras, over 40 miles of cable and enough electrical power to fully service the needs of a small residential neighborhood, based on 100 amperes per household. Approximately 200 crew members will contribute more than 10,000 man hours (roughly 43/4 years work for one person) to the project. As with all FedEx Championship Series events, the telecast will be seen in by some 60 million people in 195 countries, with the broadcast produced in 19 languages. The total number of viewers worldwide for FedEx Championship Series broadcasts during the 1998 season is expected to approach one billion.

* MARLBORO POLE AWARD CLIMAXES SATURDAY

Saturday's post-qualifying activities at the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota will be highlighted by the awarding of a new Mercedes-Benz E430 Sport to one of this season's FedEx Championship Series pole winners. The Marlboro Pole Award car giveaway will use a blind draw method of distributing 19 ignition keys, one for each pole position won by a FedEx Championship Series driver this season. The Mercedes will go to the driver whose key starts the car. Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) and Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) have earned the most pole positions this season with five and four, respectively. This marks the third year of the Marlboro Pole Award car giveaway, which was won by Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) in 1996 and Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) last year. * BANQUET A SELLOUT

The 1998 FedEx Championship Series awards banquet, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, is a complete sellout. No further reservations are being accepted for the black-tie affair, which will honor PPG Cup winner Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda), the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team, retiring three-time series champion Bobby Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) and the top 10 finishers in this year's driver's championship. The event will be hosted by ESPN's Roy Firestone, with entertainment provided by swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

* SERIES LEADERS

PPG Cup points and FedEx Championship Series earnings leaders heading into this weekend's Nov. 1 Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway:

PPG Cup Points

 1.  Alex Zanardi, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing      271*
 2.  Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green             160 
 3.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing      148
 4.  Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing              142
 5.  Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing          124

* Clinched FedEx Championship Series title

FedEx Championship Series Earnings

 1.  Alex Zanardi, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing      $1,169,250
 2.  Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green             $1,014,250
 3.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing      $  584,250
 4.  Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing              $  570,750
 5.  Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing          $  539,250

MRN

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing