CHAMPCAR/CART: Champ Car Franchise Board makes rule changes

INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2003) -- Less than one week after the Franchise Board of the CART Champ Car World Series voted to add more flexibility to its rule-making process, the owners and management of the series combined Monday to ratify a number...

INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2003) -- Less than one week after the Franchise Board of the CART Champ Car World Series voted to add more flexibility to its rule-making process, the owners and management of the series combined Monday to ratify a number of positive rule enhancements that will carry the open-wheel series through the remainder of 2003 and well beyond.

The Franchise Board accepted CART Champ Car management proposals for changes designed to enhance competition, which will go into effect with the May 31 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event at Milwaukee, and includes a measure that eliminates the mandatory pit window rule that was enacted last season. The rule, which stated that cars must pit within a specific number of laps, was put into place in 2002 in order to eliminate fuel-economy racing -- a factor that was in large part resolved by the addition of new ECU systems in the Ford-Cosworth XFE engines. CART Champ Car management maintains the ability to use the pit-window rule on oval tracks of over 1.5 miles in length -- a mandate that helped promote tight racing on the larger ovals in 2002.

In a move intended to provide fans the opportunity to follow thrilling races to the checkered flag, late-race restarts will have a different look beginning in Milwaukee. A 'move-over' rule will go into effect during the last 10 laps of a race, giving the Chief Steward the ability to send all lapped cars to the end of the restart line, giving the lead cars the chance to battle each other without having to negotiate lapped traffic.

The Franchise Board also showed its support of management initiatives in a number of new rules that will be phased in over the next three seasons -- rules that should go a long way toward ensuring the continued success of the series by allowing teams to get more use from their sponsorship dollars. Many of the new rules were targeted at reducing the expenses incurred by teams on race weekends and addressed concerns over team rosters and the maintenance of race-ready spare cars.

"The changes voted on today allow Champ Car teams to better maximize their operations without detracting from the technical aspects of the car or taking away from the exciting racing," said CART Champ Car Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. "We were able to identify budgetary areas where teams could make better use of their resources, and these moves will go a long way toward ensuring what should be an exciting future for the series."

The teams will also designate a primary car, which will go through technical inspection Thursday afternoon, and will not be allowed to run a spare car unless the primary car is damaged beyond repair, as determined by the Champ Car Stewards. If the car is damaged before qualifying, the spare car may be used without penalty. If the spare car is needed at any time after qualifying is completed, the car will start the race at the rear of the field, regardless of where the team qualified. The spare cars, will be available for the fans in the paddock to view them, a hallmark of Champ Car's fans-first approach. The spare car rule will go into effect beginning with the event in Milwaukee.

In addressing 2004, CART Champ Car will take a page from other major sports such as the NFL and the NHL and fix the number of personnel that teams can carry on their rosters. Teams will file a roster of 15 working crew members per car to take to events, not to include marketing and public-relations personnel. In addition, Champ Car will freeze all aerodynamic specifications and components as of May 20, 2003, locking those specifications in for 2003 and 2004.

This move also eliminates chassis update kits but allows management to study any necessary moves toward creating parity among the competing chassis manufacturers, enhancing value for the sponsors, teams and fans. The rules for 2004 will also eliminate the third shock and mandates the use of a mechanical differential only. For 2005, Champ Car management got the green light from the Board to review and study the next generation of engines and chassis, including adaptations to gearboxes, data-logging systems, mechanical differentials and braking systems, and will be giving its recommendations to the Franchise Board in the near future.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Veteran racing teams such as Newman/Haas Racing, Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal, Patrick Racing and Walker Racing are just a few of the teams competing this year in pursuit of the Vanderbilt Cup. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 19-race 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will be broadcast by television partners CBS and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.champcarworldseries.com.

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Series Automotive , IndyCar