MEXICO CITY (September 6, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) today announced it has reached agreement with Mexico-based entertainment giant Corporacion Interamericana de Entretenimiento (CIE) and CART racing team Forsythe Racing to conduct a round of CART's FedEx Championship Series in Mexico City beginning in 2002.
The announcement of the multi-year agreement was made by CART Chairman and CEO Joseph F. Heitzler, CIE Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman Rodrigo Gonzalez Calvillo and Forsythe Racing Chairman Gerald Forsythe and marks the largest North American sanction fee in CART's 23-year history.
"We are extremely excited about the potential for this race and are looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with CIE and Forsythe Racing in Mexico City," said Heitzler. "This decision demonstrates the commitment to our newly established strategic direction and we look forward to providing Mexican fans with our exciting style of racing while maximizing this opportunity for CIE, Forsythe and CART.
"Our initial race in Monterrey, Mexico this past March saw overwhelming support for our series, the weekend attendance establishing a CART event record. This arrangement with CIE reinforces CART's strategic focus on taking its events, and our racing product in general, to the next level of sports entertainment. This event also will give us another opportunity to reach out with CART racing to the large and growing group of Hispanic fans who are attracted to our sport."
CIE is one of the world's top entertainment organizations and is successful in a variety of entertainment and event-related endeavors that cater to audiences in Latin America, Spain and the U.S Latin market. CIE often handles the logistical aspects of events and promotes concerts with acts such as U2, Madonna, Sting and Paul McCartney. CIE has promoted NBA and Major League Baseball games in Mexico City as well as the Olympic Champions gymnastics tour. CIE is involved with Broadway plays such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "Phantom of the Opera" in Latin America and Spain and also is a producer and distributor of films. CIE also is involved in marketing and sponsorship sales for its venues, events and properties. The 2002 Mexico City Grand Prix CART event will mark the company's first experience in promoting a motorsports event.
CIE is partnering with Forsythe Racing, which runs three cars in CART's FedEx Series and also has an involvement in the Monterrey, Mexico Grand Prix as well as other motorsports facilities. The Forsythe team will provide operational and management expertise for the race. Forsythe Racing runs the Players Forsythe Racing cars of Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani and the Forsythe Championship Racing car of Bryan Herta in the FedEx Championship Series and is owned by Forsythe.
"Incorporating Mexico City into the 2002 CART schedule places it alongside such major worldwide venues as Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United States," said Gonzalez Calvillo. "This represents the opportunity for CIE to participate in one of the highest growing activities in terms of live attendance and worldwide TV audience, as well as an event that attracts more sponsorship than any other sporting event. Likewise, it marks our entrance into the motorsports industry on a long-term vision with clear business opportunities for CIE."
The five-year sanction agreement is for $4 million annually, the most of any CART North American event. A date for the event is not yet confirmed but will be announced when CART unveils its 2002 FedEx Championship Series schedule. CART last raced in Mexico City in 1981.
"Our partnership with CIE, the largest entertainment company in Latin America, along with the popularity of CART in Mexico and the magnitude of the Mexico City market, lends itself to creating one of the most successful entertainment events in the world, " said Forsythe. "Forsythe Racing is excited about our newly established relationship with CIE and promoting motorsports events in Mexico City for many years to come."
The race is set to be conducted on the road course at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez which is located within the Magdalena Mixhuca sports city approximately 15 minutes from the center of Mexico City. CIE and Forsythe plan to invest $25-30 million in facility improvements.
Incorporated in 1990, CIE is the leading live entertainment company serving the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets in Latin America, Spain and the U.S. Through a unique, vertically integrated structure, the company participates in each of the businesses that provide recreational and entertainment services and products.
The mentioned services and products primarily include: the operation of entertainment venues and amusement parks, the promotion and staging of diverse live events, the promotion of trade fairs and exhibitions, the sale of sponsorships, advertising, and food and beverage at such events and venues, as well as automated ticket sales for public events. The company also participates in the film industry through the production and distribution of films, and the Internet, through the development of vertical entertainment portal. CIE's shares are traded on the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV) since 1995 under the ticker symbol CIE B.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, November 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership among Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the largest paydays in all of motorsports. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series title.
Champions Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser are among the drivers who battle for the FedEx Championship Series title on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.