Rio Diary, Day One, May 12, 1999 Ron Richards, CART Vice President of Communications RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- As Continental Flight 33 slowly lifted from the runway at Newark International Airport Tuesday evening, thoughts turned to the ...
Rio Diary, Day One, May 12, 1999 Ron Richards, CART Vice President of Communications
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- As Continental Flight 33 slowly lifted from the runway at Newark International Airport Tuesday evening, thoughts turned to the significant number of partnerships it takes to conduct a worldwide sports property like the FedEx Championship Series.
Whether it's FedEx and the role it plays in moving the millions of dollars of cars and equipment, the cooperation of each of our race teams or the alliances CART has with its race promoters, Championship Auto Racing Teams would be hard-pressed to make the Champ Car series happen in five countries on four continents around the world without hundreds of partnerships.
We come to Rio with a renewed sense of excitement in 1999, because one of CART's own is now our partner in bringing the race to Brazil.
When Emerson Fittipaldi first joined the CART circuit in 1984, little did we know he would someday win a PPG Cup. Sure, he had won a Formula One World Championship but many believed he was past his prime. When he parked his Champ Car for the final time in 1996, he was fifth on the all-time CART victory list with 22 wins, more than $14 million in winnings and, maybe most impressively, a race victory at age 48 in one of the world's most competitive race series.
Now he's back with us as an official member of the CART family, promoting the Rio 200. And it's great have him as part of the family again.
Emerson's approach to this event is one that is more inclusive than it's ever been before. He wants to take the race to the people -- make them partners, so to speak. He lowered ticket prices significantly (the lowest ticket price in 1998 was $80; this year it's $20). He expects a far greater number of fans in the grandstands than ever before for a Brazilian Champ Car weekend.
As Emerson grew his race organization, he added ISL Marketing, one of the world's top sports-marketing entities, which represents such properties as World Cup Soccer, the International Olympic Committee and CART, to help him build his event. The first fruit borne of that association was the naming of Brazilian telecommunications giant Telemar as the title sponsor of the GP Telemar Rio 200.
It's another important partnership that will help grow our sport worldwide.