CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Pook, Martinez press conference, part II

An Interview with Chris Pook and Chuck Martinez Part 2 of 2 Q: You said there will need to be changes. The drivers talked about the track. Can you talk about what kind of changes you expect at this point? Chris Pook: We're going to make...

An Interview with Chris Pook and Chuck Martinez

Part 2 of 2

Q: You said there will need to be changes. The drivers talked about the track. Can you talk about what kind of changes you expect at this point?

Chris Pook: We're going to make some suggestions to Chuck on the track layout. We'll probably talk about a different victory circle location, things like that, the TV compound will move. Some of the big things you'll notice, some of the small things you won't notice. Hopefully the small things that you won't notice come about as us noticing things we want to change but you haven't seen them. It's a whole variety of little subtle changes, how we move people around, how Chuck moves people around, make sure the people can move throughout the infield and the other areas.

Chuck Martinez: We've done a lot of research. We have plenty of shots, pictures of flow, to give us an idea of what we're going to need to do. We're going to be examining those things closely in the next couple weeks to sort of give us a direction on how we're going to proceed in the future.

Q: Chris, with the show that CART got to put on this weekend in front of manufacturers like Audi, Chevrolet, Porsche, did you get a chance to get a feel for what their impressions were of CART? Does that help you with maybe getting some of those guys involved in the future?

Chris Pook: Yeah, I mean, it was very interesting to see today there were several of the major manufacturers from the ALMS hanging around to watch what was going on today. They were watching yesterday and Friday. It was a shame that our qualifying got dampened down a little bit yesterday. They got the picture, they got the feeling for it. I think it was very positive. I think Cadillac, they got some pretty good exposure today. That's what we're about. We're about delivering value to our sponsors and our promoter's sponsors.

Q: As a student of Miami Dade, students in general here, slightly inconvenienced from the event, but in return we received free access on Friday. For the next year, will we be receiving any additional access or any student discounts or anything like that?

Chuck Martinez: I can tell you that for us, being able to take care of our primary constituents, which is downtown merchants, Miami Dade Community College, Bayside, those individuals are very important. We will absolutely look at ways to do that. Miami Dade has been an incredible partner with us. Obviously, we're here in Miami Dade right now, in these facilities. They're terrific. They've been with us all the way through this whole process. Absolutely we will be doing things along those lines. We want to make sure we promote attendance. We want to get people interested. Hopefully come on Friday, be excited, come in for the rest of the weekend. Yes, we definitely will be doing those things.

Q: Has the permit for 2003 been formally applied for yet?

Chuck Martinez: We have applied for dates with the city. We'll be finalizing everything as far as permitting everything else within the next 30 days, 35 or 40 days.

 Q:   Indications are that Homestead are planning on filing as early as
tomorrow.  What is your preparation for that?

Chuck Martinez: I have no idea what home Homestead is going to do. I would say anything they do proceed with, we feel very confident that we're on the right side of this issue. The City of Miami deserves an event like this, as evidenced by today. I would love to work with Homestead. Let's do co-promotion, let's build a motorsports fan base down here. I'm going to extend that offer to them. I do want to work with Homestead. They have a great, great event there. November is going to be very exciting for NASCAR and the Winston Cup. I'll probably go. As far as I'm concerned, these two events can do very, very well. Homestead and City of Miami, downtown Miami, Grand Prix Americas, can both do very, very well. I think it is in both of our interest to promote this sport as much as we can because it is exciting and people really enjoy it. There is a good fan base with the South Americans and Europeans down here that we can build on.

Q: Have you offered what you might consider an "olive branch" at ISC and Homestead? I remember seeing in the transcript of the teleconference about some of that. Could you amplify about the types of olive branches you might have offered?

Chris Pook: I had a conversation with Jim. In that conversation, I -- actually I had two conversations. I suggested we could work together as a team to help promote Homestead, that it would be beneficial. I recited that in Long Beach back in the early '70s when Riverside was concerned about us as a temporary circuit coming on, we worked with them. Actually, Riverside had their biggest crowds as a result of that. As Chuck said, let's work together as a team. Hopefully there will be a change of heart after this weekend. If there's not a change of heart, rest assured we stand ready to defend our business.

Q: While you were putting this together, did you have a chance to go to any other city and see how they put their weekend on?

Chuck Martinez: Absolutely, I went to Toronto, Montreal, Milwaukee. I came to this race eight, nine years when it was put together down in downtown. As a casual fan, I enjoy racing a lot. I've learned a lot about the business of racing, which is very different from being a fan. You know, CART and American LeMans have been very, very instrumental in educating me on this process. I come from the event business. I come from working in Miami. I know my focus was being fan friendly, providing good customer service, getting the client what they want, putting the logistics of it together. There are certain idiosyncrasies to the motorsports world that I learned. I learned a lot of stuff this weekend. This has been an education, no question. I've got a book full of notes. I'm going on vacation two days from now. When I get back, we're getting back to work. We have a lot of plans. We're going to have a big debrief. We are going to make this event better. It is our intention to make this a premiere motorsports event, something that people will look forward to on a year-round basis, something that people in Miami and motorsport fans alike are going to see as something special.

Q: If an injunction is filed, will CART join with Raceworks in fighting the legal battle or will Raceworks have to fight that battle alone?

Chris Pook: No, CART will join with Raceworks and fight any actions here. We'll help defend our territory along with Raceworks. I would assume the city will be with us, as well.

Chuck Martinez: The city will be.

Q: The city will be involved as an interested party?

Chuck Martinez: The three groups would defend themselves against anything that comes down the line legally. Each entity has its own legal representation, and they work jointly. I was hoping after this race we could sort of let these guys go. If that doesn't happen, so be it. We'll have to move forward. The city is committed to this event, absolutely unequivocally. CART is committed and Raceworks is committed to making this an annual affair.

Q: With the number of Formula 1 folks in town this week, including Ferrari this weekend, knowing you as a businessman, did you use that opportunity to talk to any of them about future relationships?

Chris Pook: Well, I think we probably passed the time of day and said what a nice view the place had.

Q: That's all you're getting out of me.

Chris Pook: That's about all you're going to get out of me (laughter). No, it's not appropriate to discuss those conversations.

Q: Where do you see CART in the future with all these drivers changing competition?

Chris Pook: Well, I don't have any difficulty. Other sports, baseball, basketball, football and hockey, they change athletes on a regular basis, go from one city to other city. I'm particularly happy about the da Matta situation. I wish him well. He's a tremendous champion. If he can get to Formula 1 using CART as a platform, that's a big feather in our hat. If you look at Dario (Franchitti), no one knew who Dario was here three or four years ago. They all thought he was an Italian that showed up in America. Come to find out he was a Scotsman. That happens. You build stars up, they move on. If you looked around the paddock this weekend, there were an incredible number of names that unless you follow international motorsports on a very, very close basis, they wouldn't mean anything to you.

You probably had here this weekend I would say eight of the fastest young racing car drivers of the future all walking around this paddock inquiring about rides here. If you saw a couple of them, you would think they were still in junior high the way they look. These kids are really young. They're getting younger and younger. They're getting faster and faster. We'd love those sort of guys to come into our series. We'd love to be a series that nurtures youngsters and takes them to the next level, puts them back into Formula 1.

If you want to know about the series, you have to listen to what (Juan) Montoya and (Jacques) Villeneuve had to say. They didn't mince their words about what they think about this series. You don't like to lose people, but we're in the business of professional sports, and professional athletes come and go. For every door that opens, another one closes, and every one that closes, another one opens.

Q: Is there a place in the United States for two competitions, like Indy Racing League and CART?

Chris Pook: As far as I'm concerned, sure. We don't compete with the Indy Racing League. People tend to think we do. Some people think we do. We don't. We're in the business of pretty intense racing, which requires you to change gears, brake, accelerate, turn left and turn right and use your head on a full-time basis. That's the business we're in. It's completely different.

Adam Saal: Gentlemen, thank you very much.


Pook< Martinez press conference, part I

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Series ALMS , IndyCar , Trans-Am
Drivers Chris Pook