Continued from part 1 MERRILL CAIN: Thank you, Kevin. Awesome news. Certainly a great prize for the champion next season in Atlantics. Back to Derrick Walker and for Kevin for a second. If you put your Champ Car team hats back on for a ...
Continued from part 1
MERRILL CAIN: Thank you, Kevin. Awesome news. Certainly a great prize for the champion next season in Atlantics. Back to Derrick Walker and for Kevin for a second. If you put your Champ Car team hats back on for a moment, how important will this be to have a very talented driver entering the series in 2007 with this type of funding secured?
DERRICK WALKER: Well, it's essential for the survival of Champ Car, let's face it. It's all too difficult to get into racing in the first place. As many of you know, once you start getting further up the ladder, it gets harder and harder. I think this contribution, this prize that allows the winner of the championship to go to a team with this kind of support, that's a huge step forward, as many of you are sure are well aware of. It's a great day. I think it's really going to turn the series around and get it moving in the right direction.
MERRILL CAIN: Kevin, you have been very supportive of the drivers, a couple of the drivers have the PKV moniker that they're carrying on their cars this season with Katherine Legge and Al Unser III. How important will it be for your team to try to get these drivers into Champ Car with the funding Champ Car is providing?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: I can think of no easier way of putting it than we're putting our money where our mouth is. This is incredibly important. I don't know which one it's going to be, but one of your guys will be in our team sooner or later. Keep going.
MERRILL CAIN: I'd like to open it up for a few questions from the audience.
Q: Is the series name going to remain the same, obviously without the "Toyota"? Kevin or Dick, you said "selected teams." Is there going to be a specific number of teams that could possibly take this $2 million along with the driver?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, as we don't know who the teams and how many will be in '07, we're just saying "selected" at this minute. But I think there will be team owners that will be very enthusiastic to be able to get hold of a championship winner with a $2 million check in his pocket or her pocket. That's a clue, Katherine. Get your butt going.
Q: Vicki, will you guys try and have more doubleheaders? I heard more people talk this year, that's what they've been screaming about for years, Atlantic drivers need more time on the track. Can you talk about next year for maybe more doubleheaders?
VICKI O'CONNOR: The preliminary schedule calls for a minimum of one doubleheader. We are looking at possibly two. It was very popular. We enjoy doing them.
Q: Steve, a lot of people said through the years "more power, less tire." Have you talked to the Yokohama people yet?
STEVE SEWELL: Certainly thanks to Cosworth we've more than covered the power side of it, going from 240 to 300 horsepower. We've had some preliminary conversations with Yokohama, as well as looked at some of the aero numbers with Swift. Again, it's all subject to review. We've kind of been creeping up on it quite honestly over the last two years. We've made some changes. Well, we'd like to think the racing has been much better as a result. We feel we're on to a pretty magic formula year. We just want to continue that process I guess would be the correct way to answer that.
Q: Kevin, long time ago in Indy Lights, Pat Patrick says if you win the Indy Lights championship, we'll give you a ride in CART. That didn't happen. Where will the money come from, the $2 million?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: The money is going to come from the continued success of Champ Car. And it will come.
Q: Tim, will Cosworth be supplying and maintaining the engines? Was there a limit on how many engines a team can use during a year? Are you going to try to go for one engine for the whole year?
TIM ROUTSIS: First part of the question, yes, Cosworth will be supplying and maintaining all of the engines. As I say, one of the prerequisites of this arrangement is that the engines are all within a percentage, one and a half percent, of each other. In terms of the durability of the engines, they're going to run 2,000 miles between rebuilds. We have agreed with the on series a formula whereby we will be able to make sure that every team has an engine available as they send engines back to us. So we've tried to linearize the whole engine supply arrangements for all teams for the whole duration of the season.
Q: Alex, how far along is the car? Who is going to be shaking it down and when?
ALEX CROSS: The pre-season testing will occur early in February. First group of cars will be available early March. The tests will be done under the auspices of Champ Car and Swift. It will be shaken down by a driver not participating in the series.
Q: Alex or Vicki, will the existing 014 chassis be upgradeable to the new spec? Will there be a second class for older cars?
VICKI O'CONNOR: There is a conversion kit available for the current 014, if someone choses to do that.
ALEX CROSS: No, we have planned a conversion kit for the 014 if there's sufficient interest. We'd like to find out how many people would actually like to do that before we start selling them. But we are fully committed to the new car and really think that's the way to go, quite frankly. The series needs a new car, needs a modern car, needs the kind of things we described here today in the press conference.
Q: I noticed on the handout there's a possibility of standing starts returning to the series. I was wondering what the chances of that actually happening are.
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: I would love to do standing starts, for heaven's sake. I mean, let's get these guys working.
VICKI O'CONNOR: It's on the list.
Q: Will the series remain North American based only or will there be any overseas travel?
VICKI O'CONNOR: At the moment, it's going to remain in North America.
Q: Alex, who's designing the car? Is the design process underway?
ALEX CROSS: The current chief designer at Swift, Chris Norris. He's designing the car.
Q: Now that there's been an announcement of the Atlantic chassis and engine, is there any date, approximately the date for Champ Car chassis?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: We're talking Atlantic today so I'm not going to answer that question, but there will be a new chassis, so stop it (laughter).
MERRILL CAIN: One of the questions asked, I'm not sure if we got to it, was what will the name of the series be. It will be the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.
Q: Alex and Tim, earlier there was mention of an annual budget of $500,000 to $600,000. Could you break that down for us in terms of what a chassis will cost, annual cost for engines?
ALEX CROSS: The chassis will be $79,500.
TIM ROUTSIS: I think what I'd like to do is actually defer the cost issue to Dick Eidswick because we've been talking this morning. Dick.
DICK EIDSWICK: The cost of the new car will be $175,000, which includes the chassis from Swift and engine from Cosworth and electronics from Pi and a few other items. In addition to that, there will be the rebuild cost which would be included in the annual budget of the teams.
Q: Richard, great to hear you are going to be back in the series. Can you talk again about some of the attractiveness of the new series? You pulled out at the end of last year. What is so good about the new series?
RICHARD RAEDER: We feel positive with the decisions made by Champ Car moving forward in ways that we like as a team. The prize is obviously going to be a massive incentive for drivers all over the world. For Sierra Sierra, we have some unfinished business (laughter).
Q: Kevin, following on with what Team Australia will do, has there been any discussions within Champ Car teams whereby they might all ultimately have an Atlantic team? F1 tried to do this several years ago with F-3000. Will there be a benefit to the Champ Car program in general if all of these Champ Car teams had an Atlantic team?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: I think almost certainly what we're going to see is a combination of two things: development by teams like Team Australia who have a very, very specific objective about developing a national basis, which is very important to them. I think for some of the existing teams inside the series, I've spoken to the owners, it's far more likely what they're going to do is take their selected drivers and sponsor them through the Atlantic Series in existing teams. So both ways are perfectly reasonable to do. I congratulate Team Australia on the vision they've got for producing national drivers at the highest level, but at the same time I believe that some of our existing teams and people like Carl Russo have already said this, they want to take some of the young talent, they don't want to have to run an Atlantic team, they believe that's best left to the owners of the teams in the Atlantic Series, but they will sponsor the drivers through it and make sure each one of them tries to get their check so that their running costs will be lower next year.
MERRILL CAIN: If there are no more questions from the audience, I'd like to first of all congratulate everyone. I think it's outstanding news for the series as we move forward. Thank you very much for being here today, Ladies and Gentlemen.