DETROIT (March 18, 2002) - Taking the first step in establishing the 2003 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, officials from the City of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.; (NYSE: MPH) and Dover Downs Entertainment,...
DETROIT (March 18, 2002) - Taking the first step in establishing the 2003 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, officials from the City of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.; (NYSE: MPH) and Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: DVD) officially announced today that the CART FedEx Championship Series will be racing in St. Petersburg, Fla. in 2003.
"I am thrilled to hear that a sanctioning agreement between CART and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has been approved," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. "This confirms that the best open wheel race drivers in the world will be running in downtown St. Petersburg next February. The city looks forward to welcoming event participants and patrons in our city and the worldwide television audience that will be watching the event."
The inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for February 21-23, 2003. The race will kick off the 2003 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, marking the first time since the 2000 season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway that the Champ Car season will open in the United States.
"It has been no secret that we here at CART and our partners at Dover Downs Entertainment have been extremely interested in having a Champ Car race in St. Petersburg, and it is truly a pleasure that we are able to make this announcement today," said CART President and CEO, Christopher R. Pook. "The area is another major market in the United States and is a market that has been virtually untapped by major league auto racing until now. It seems only natural that we would open the CART FedEx Championship Series season in Florida during the month of February, considering that the state is the center of the motor racing universe during that time of year. We believe that racing fans throughout the southeastern portion of the United States will enjoy the opportunity to see the most challenging and exciting form of motor racing in the world on the streets of St. Petersburg, and we expect the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to be an instant success."
The agreement between CART and Dover Downs Entertainment calls for Champ Cars to be racing in St. Petersburg for up to a 12-year term-a seven-year contract with a five-year option.
"We're excited to have this opportunity to bring major league motorsports into the heart of the second largest metro area in the Southeast," said Dover Downs Entertainment Inc. President and CEO Denis McGlynn. "St. Petersburg is a beautiful city and offers the perfect setting for the CART season opener in 2003."
The race will be run on a temporary circuit that will incorporate some of the streets of downtown St. Petersburg around the Bayfront Center as well as a portion of the Albert Whitted Airport. Dover Downs' Grand Prix Association of Long Beach received unanimous approval earlier this year from the St. Petersburg City Council to operate the temporary event.
"The St. Petersburg course has all of the characteristics that are associated with memorable street circuits, including the waterfront, wide open spaces on the airport, as well as the downtown setting," said Grand Prix of St. Petersburg President/CEO, Jim Michaelian. "It will be colorful, competitive, safe and exciting for all the racing fans visiting from the southeastern United States."
As is the case already with the Grand Prix of Denver scheduled for September 1, 2002, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be co-promoted and co-marketed by CART and Dover Downs, which will be overseen by CART Vice President of Joint Venture Promoter Relations Rena Shanaman.
Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc. operates a multi-purpose entertainment complex that includes Dover International Speedway, conducting two NASCAR Winston Cup auto racing weekends per year; Nashville Superspeedway near Nashville, Tenn.; Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Mo. and Memphis Motorsports Park near Memphis, Tenn. The Company also organizes and promotes the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. and will organize and promote the Grand Prix of Denver in 2002. Dover also operates pari-mutuel harness horse racing, pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast harness and thoroughbred horse races and video lottery (slot) machine operations in Dover, Del.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as American Honda, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 20-race 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.CART.com.