Leahy, with 27 years of marketing experience for Target Stores, joined CART as its new senior vice president of marketing in 1999. He has agreed to speak at Friday's Business Conference on "Sponsorship - the Essential Component" and will talk about applying the CART philosophy to Europe.
CART introduced all-driver autograph sessions at each of its 20 events during the 2000 season. At the end of on-track activities the paddock is opened and all FedEx Championship Series drivers make themselves available for a 45-minute autograph session in a designated area.
"At a time when athletes seem to be less and less accessible to the fans, as well as less and less willing to serve as role models, we are taking this consummate step to personalize our drivers for their most important audience," Leahy said. "In what other sport do the fans receive the chance, at every event, to interact on a one-to-one basis with their heroes?"
Leahy's responsibilities with Target included planning and execution of marketing efforts for four-time CART champion, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. And he also undertook the planning and execution of the marketing for the inaugural Target Grand Prix of Chicago.
The sensational Juan Montoya of the Target/Chip Ganassi team, who became only the second rookie in history to win the series CART championship crown, will be making a guest appearance at Autosport International on Saturday, Jan. 13. Montoya has signed for the Williams Formula 1 Team next season and will be following the CART philosophy, signing autographs for motorsport fans and giving interviews on the Autosport stage.
Chris Tate, director of Rockingham, Jim Wright, head of marketing for Williams F1; and Bob Cushing, group strategy and marketing director of Redstone will also speak at Friday's conference, designed to look at all aspects of sponsorship and international marketing through motorsport.
Conference tickets are £150.00 (~$216 U.S.) + VAT. Details from Alistair Crompton at the MIA on 02476 692600.
Trade registration for Thursday, January 11 and Friday, January 12 available by phoning 01926 889500 or register on the Web site at www.autosport-international.com.