CHAMPCAR/CART: RuSPORT, Wilson, new sponsor teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Now a follow-up for Mr.Russo. Carl, how do you consider the staff situation of the Champ Car at the beginning of the 2006 championship? CARL RUSSO: From my perspective, are you asking about the series, or ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Now a follow-up for Mr.Russo. Carl, how do you consider the staff situation of the Champ Car at the beginning of the 2006 championship?

CARL RUSSO: From my perspective, are you asking about the series, or the competition that we're going to face?

Q: The competition, yes, yes.

CARL RUSSO: You know, I think you've seen the series has formidable competition, and it's the series that has enough equivalence where teams that you might not suspect would do well have done well. I think you're going to see Forsythe be very strong. I think you're going to see Newman Haas be very strong. I think you're going to see PKV be very strong. I think you're going to see Team Australia be very strong. I think everybody is going to step it up.

Having said that, you know, we've all been working with the same cars for a long period of time. We're learning more about the racetracks. I think the competition at the front is going to be closer than it's ever been. I think it's going to be one of those seasons where qualifying is going to be determined by hundredths of a second, not tenths of a second. I think track position, pit strategy, all of those pieces are going to come to bear, and every little piece of the equation is going to make the difference between not only winning and losing, but being on a podium or not and being in the championship hunt. We're certainly going to try.

And to your question earlier to Justin, I'll echo one piece. As all of you aware, Justin, when he came to the States, he was coming out of Formula I. He had quite literally outgrown Formula I. He could no longer fit in a Formula I car, so they simply had to get rid of him; that's my view. In my opinion as I've gotten to know Justin and the talent that he has, there's no question whether it was this team or another, that he would be at the front. So all credit to Justin for what he's been able to achieve. That's my view.

Q: Let's go back to that day last summer in July in Toronto where you pulled off the win and the emotion of finally cracking the middle position on the podium, and your mom or dad or relatives were there to celebrate with you, talk about that; and how anxious you are to get back and try to make it two in a row in Toronto?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was a great time last year. We came close a couple of races beforehand and to actually pull it off in Toronto was a great feeling. I was kind of wondering what was going to happen to stop me getting that can first win in those last few laps when I was circling around behind the safety car. It was a great time, and I'm looking forward to getting back to Toronto and trying to repeat that. It's going to be quite a challenge, as Carl mentioned already. As each year goes by with the same car, more and more people work out how to make this car quick. So it's going to be a closer, tighter field and it will be a challenge for the driver to come out on top and it will be a great feeling for whoever does that.

Q: Carl, the Canadian contributions to this team are certainly well-documented from team president, Jeremy Dale on down. Is Jeremy back with the squad this year, maybe talk about the Canadian contribution to getting this team to where it is?

CARL RUSSO: The Canadians come in a number of forms. We have a number of Canadians on the team. Obviously Jeremy being the president, he is one. And Jeremy is currently in another room eating all of the cookies. (Laughing). Something about the visa thing, I'm not sure.

But another large Canadian contributor that we talked to earlier was actually the Canadian contribution from CDW Canada, which was why Toronto happened and is I think a very rapidly growing segment of CDW's business. So that to me is arguably as big a contributor as all of the associates of CDW in Canada, I don't even know the number. What's the number?

JOHN EDWARDSON: About a hundred. It was important at the approach, actually, went through CDW Canada as the first available sponsors and then came back to CDW headquarters in the U.S. We are here because we were first approached about the Canadian race in Toronto and when you win your first time out, it kinds of makes you want to come back for more.

CARL RUSSO: In Canada, by the way, some others, as you're probably aware, Justin's race engineer, Todd Malloy, is Canadian; our shock technician, the wondrous Alex Nishi is also Canadian. There's probably some others that I'm forgetting. But there's a significant contribution in RuSPORT from Canadians. By the way, there's a significant contribution on virtually every Champ Car team from Canadians.

Q: With the new car coming on board next year, this being a multiple-year deal as I understand it, with a new car coming on board next year and everybody having to learn new setups and all that, will the technology partnership of this deal help your team?

CARL RUSSO: I think there's a couple of things that help the team. Earlier we spoke about the culture of the team and trying to build a learning organization. I think that sets the tone for any time you get a new chassis like that; it's really about your learning rate. But I think you bring up a very astute question, because frankly, we're going to be ripping through a ton of information trying to sort that out. And so there's no question that CDW's expertise is going to help us there. And John, maybe you want to amplify on that.

JOHN EDWARDSON: Sure. One of the things that we do for companies all over America is help them make determinations about what type of equipment they need, how much of it they need, based on what it's going to be used for. So we will have CDW computer field engineers be active, they have already been active, they will get more active, and will clearly have the best technology in the world available. We sell billions of it every year in the U.S. and in Canada, and so we have a big inventory to draw from. When RuSPORT needs something, it will be there the next day.

Q: This is a great announcement today for Justin, anything on the horizon for your other car, sponsorship for A.J.'s car?

CARL RUSSO: Oh, that short guy. The answer is, as we've always stated, when there is news, we'll report it, so there's nothing to report today. But obviously our activities on the team on both on-track activities and off-track activities and our marketing partnership continue without any abatement.

Q: I noticed in the press release that you showed a picture of the car with the CDW logos on it. Are the partnership logos going to appear on that car, as well, Mr.Edwardson?

JOHN EDWARDSON: And the answer is they do, or they will, and they are already on the car. And so as the main sponsor, we get a little more visibility than the others, but HP, Plantronics, Edge Tech and Targus are all on the car.

CARL RUSSO: And just so you know, that picture that was sent out was it actually a computer-generated drawing. As we do the photos from today, you'll get a chance to see the placement as accordingly.

JOHN EDWARDSON: The visibility is very important to our joint sponsors.

Q: I think maybe this is a question for Carl, and that is that since you've been in the series, do you find that it's getting any easier to find sponsorship? Do you think the climate is changing? And I would say from what I perceive, maybe your team has gone the hardest after it and you've been doing the most effort, that's visible, to me, anyway, some may be doing it behind the scenes; maybe could you address that. And the other thing I want clarified is CDW, is this coming from the U.S. as well as Canada?

CARL RUSSO: So maybe John can answer that last question first.

JOHN EDWARDSON: The pockets in the U.S. are a little bigger in the U.S. operation than the Canadian operation, so this is being funded principally from the U.S.

CARL RUSSO: But it involves CDW worldwide.

JOHN EDWARDSON: It involves CDW Canada. And at our two Canadian races, I believe, we will be very visible, three races in Canada this year. And I know I will be at the Toronto race, and maybe one of the other ones.

CARL RUSSO: To your question, on the sponsorship climate and what's happening in that environment, CDW, as you know, prides itself on delivering technology first to its customers. It's what has enabled it, I think one of the key areas, that has enabled CDW to grow at the rate they have grown. John paid us a heck of a compliment when he said we got to them first. So maybe that's the right mesh. Look, you have to be aggressive on the racetrack to win. We believe you have to be aggressive off the racetrack to win, and that aggressive certainly starts in the approach to CDW, but it's not going to stop there. We're going to continue to be aggressive in our pursuit to help CDW win off the racetrack as well.

So your question about the climate, I think the climate mimics the health of Champ Car, and as it continues to grow, that climate improves. So I believe you're going to see a continued success in this environment. I think it speaks to Champ Car's business model where you have very high technology racing where the costs are controlled that puts it in a reach of a broad set of sponsors that can reach a technology-savvy audience. So I think that is going to improve and I can only speak for what we see at RuSPORT, not what the other teams are seeing in the brood sense.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you, that will bring an end to the Champ Car media teleconference today. Again, congratulations to everyone concerned with this announcement today, another very positive announcement as we head to the 2006 season opener which takes place on the streets of Long Beach, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will take place April 7-9.

-ccws-

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