CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston opens doors to Turbo Tour

Top Champ Car Drivers Receive Rodeo-Style Texas Welcome During Champ Car Turbo Tour HOUSTON, Mar. 17, 2006 - Some of the top racecar drivers in the world were in Houston Thursday as part of the Champ Car Turbo Tour, a six-day, cross-country...

Top Champ Car Drivers Receive Rodeo-Style Texas Welcome During Champ Car Turbo Tour

HOUSTON, Mar. 17, 2006 - Some of the top racecar drivers in the world were in Houston Thursday as part of the Champ Car Turbo Tour, a six-day, cross-country market blitz to promote the start of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. During the one-day visit, Grand Prix of Houston officials organized a Texas-sized welcome centered around a behind-the-scenes visit to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Like rock stars touring to promote a new album, Champ Car embarked on the Turbo Tour on Mar. 12, beginning in Long Beach, CA. The Champ Car contingent included drivers Mario Dominguez, A.J. Allmendinger, Katherine Legge, Justin Wilson, Alex Tagliani, Alan Sciuto, and David Martinez, as well as Champ Car President Steve Johnson and the 2006 Face of Champ Car Brandi Latimer. After four days traveling across the country in series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven's private jet, the Turbo Tour arrived in Houston on Thursday afternoon.

During the visit, the drivers made their first appearance at Reliant Park - home of the upcoming Grand Prix of Houston - for a press conference where 14 sponsors were announced for the 2006 event. At the conclusion of the media event, Grand Prix of Houston officials presented the drivers with authentic Texas cowboy hats to get them in the rodeo spirit.

The press function was followed by a photo opportunity outside Reliant Stadium with the drivers and Dan Mortensen, a seven-time world champion rodeo cowboy. The drivers were then treated to a Behind-The-Chutes tour of the Rodeo conducted by Mortensen and Leroy Shafer, Chief Operating Officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Mr. Shafer guided the wide-eyed drivers through the impressive Rodeo facilities, and introduced the visitors to a 800 lbs rodeo bull.

The Champ Car drivers were impressed with the rodeo cowboys. "These guys are real athletes," said Alex Tagliani. "Also a little crazy. I mean it takes some kind of courage to climb on the back of a bull or a wild horse and challenge them to throw you off."

At the end of the long day, the Champ Car contingent enjoyed the evening's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo performance featuring Hillary Duff from a private luxury suite hosted by Reliant Park and the Grand Prix of Houston. The group was then off to a hotel for a few hours of sleep before resuming the Turbo Tour, which concludes today in Monterrey, Mexico.

"Today was an excellent example of collaboration between the Grand Prix of Houston and Champ Car," said Robert Dale Morgan, Executive Director of the Grand Prix of Houston. "From a press conference where we announced 14 sponsors for this years race to the Champ Car drivers autograph session in the Ford Truck area outside the stadium to a behind the scenes tour at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, today was a great way to start the 2006 Champ Car season."

In addition to Houston, the Champ Car Turbo Tour is stopping at nearly every North American city that hosts a Champ Car event, covering 12 markets in a whirlwind six-day tour. The trip will see the Champ Car group spend nearly 18 hours in the air, flying more than 1,700 nautical miles criss-crossing the continent.

"This is a huge initiative to promote the beginning of the Champ Car season," said Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson. "We are always striving to bring Champ Car to the people and there is no better way to do that than to create a whirlwind tour encompassing our entire North America schedule."

About the Grand Prix of Houston
The Grand Prix of Houston will take place May 11 - 13 at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas. The event will feature an unprecedented combination of racing and activities, highlighted by world-class events from American Le Mans Series and Champ Car. The Grand Prix of Houston will be held on a temporary 1.7 mile street course and will be contested under the lights of Reliant Park, making the event Champ Car's first-ever night time street race. In addition to the high-speed thrills of world-class racing, a wide variety of entertainment and activities is being scheduled for people of all ages to create a spectacular three days and nights of speed and entertainment. Tickets are available online at grandprixofhouston.com or ticketmaster.com, by phone at 713.629.3700, in person at the Reliant Stadium South Box Office, and at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers including Houston-area locations of Foley's, Fiesta, and Wherehouse Music. For more information, please visit www.grandprixofhouston.com.

-www.grandprixofhouston.com

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Series INDYCAR