CHAMPCAR/CART: Perspective on Annual Meeting

CART held its Annual Meeting Tuesday morning at The Westin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis before a group of about 30-35 people, some kept entering and exiting, of which about 20 were either CART employees, directors or vendors. The only director...

CART held its Annual Meeting Tuesday morning at The Westin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis before a group of about 30-35 people, some kept entering and exiting, of which about 20 were either CART employees, directors or vendors. The only director who wasn't present was Derrick Walker, whom Chris Pook said was sick.

The only interesting thing that happened was during the Q&A session, when a representative of Bettenhausen Motor Sports asked whether CART has a poison pill provision (a business term that describes some corporate bylaw that makes a takeover either very hard or very unprofitable). Pook said CART does have one. The Bettenhausen rep said he believes CART should sell the company to maximize shareholder value and said therefore the poison pill should be removed. Pook essentially tabled the talk by saying the directors would discuss it at the next Board meeting.

The highlights of Pook's speech:

* CART has completed a reorganization that reduces the heirarchy from 12 levels of managment when Pook got there to just 5 levels (i.e. a flatter structure).

* CART is now focused on being a marketing organization to capture the interests of the corporate sponsors, who drive the industry.* CART is relying on the regional promotors to reach the retailers because it's a far more economical approach.

* The Milwaukee Mile race drew a 1.3 overnight rating despite not having clearances in eight major markets.

* CART is taking a long-run focus on TV, and they are focusing on the quality of the broadcast first and foremost. He said to be patient and rely on the success of Fox to build SpeedChannel just as Fox has built its own nationwide network, the Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Net, FX, etc., etc.

* CART is marketing itself as a much-cheaper alternative to F1 to multinational corporations....CART claims you get a much better "bang for your buck" with them.

* Tickets for the CART race at Montreal in August are already ahead of expectations, as they've already sold 30% of their goal.

* The contract to race in Miami should be completed by the end of next week, and CART should race there in October.

* Attendance at Long Beach and Japan were both up in 2002 versus 2001, and the Milwaukee attendance was pushing 30,000, which Pook said was very strong because the industry has been seening oval attendance around 10,000.

Nothing really controversial came up during the meeting. Pook came off as a man on a mission: "I'm not just a paid C.E.O., I'm a believer in this product and this racing series."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Pook