CHAMPCAR/CART: Fries with that?

The audience expected some earth-shattering news, but today's announcement by Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford amounted to "do you want fries with that?" McDonald's, the fast food giant that sponsors the ...

The audience expected some earth-shattering news, but today's announcement by Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford amounted to "do you want fries with that?"

McDonald's, the fast food giant that sponsors the #2 Newman/Haas Racing McDonald's Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone Champ car of point leader Sebastien Bourdais today announced it has become the official fast food restaurant of Champ Car through the 2006 season.

The huge conglomerate has been part of the series since the 2003 season, when it began partial sponsorship of Bourdais' Lola. In their initial alliance in a three-race deal, at Cleveland Bourdais rewarded McDonald's with victory the first time out. The firm's director of alliance marketing, John Lewicki admitted that, after that first outing "we got hooked.

"It just makes sense for us to add on to the Champ Car series and become an official status sponsor. The interest to us is in the fact that they (CCWS) do expand boundaries, not only in the US with races but also here in Canada, Australia and Mexico. It makes us very proud that we have a series with international reach and helps us talk about our brand in a significant way," Lewicki expounded.

Although the firm does not intend to do much cross-marketing this late in the 2004 season, Lewicki did note they will play a more active role in promoting the series into the 2005 season and beyond.

"We chose Montreal to have this press announcement because of the global reach and the fact that our Canadian company will be involved, our Mexican company will be involved, the US company will be involved and, hopefully our Australian company will be involved as well."

For that reason, McDonald's will engage in varied schemes using their separate companies around the world "under one global banner, so you may see a little different activation in each country as appropriate," according to Lewicki. He also confirmed McDonald's will remain with Newman/Haas through the 2007 as primary sponsor, "at least."

The alliance with Champ Car is a corporate decision and does not come down to individual franchisees; while the question of corporate sponsorship for the entire series was broached during the press conference Lewicki insisted the firm is taking its involvement "one step at a time. We're very happy with the position we're in now. We may have an opportunity to expand that in the future, but right now we're going to develop on the program we have at this time."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sébastien Bourdais