DETROIT (August 3, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc., and ESPN International, its worldwide television rights holder and partner, have completed an agreement with leading Italian television group Mediaset for the airing of CART's two ...
DETROIT (August 3, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc., and ESPN International, its worldwide television rights holder and partner, have completed an agreement with leading Italian television group Mediaset for the airing of CART's two European races on Italian national television.
Italia 1, the leading national Italian television outlet for the 15-45 age group, will carry both the German 500 from the EuroSpeedway at Lausitz on September 15 as well as the September 22 Rockingham 500 from Great Britain's Rockingham Motor Speedway.
The Italian television outlet is one of three networks owned by Mediaset, which also owns Canale 5 and Rete 4. Among the three, they reach an average of approximately 45 percent of the country's total TV audience.
Italia 1 also is one of the top Italian networks for sports events. Its programming includes Champions League soccer, the Ski World Series and, in 2002, the Motorcycle World Championship Grand Prix.
"As the exclusive global television representative for CART, I am pleased that ESPN International was able to broker this agreement to bring the excitement of the CART FedEx Championship Series to Italian fans," said Mark Reilly, vice president and general manager of international sales for ESPN, Inc. "The involvement of a major media group like Mediaset in this agreement is further validation of CART's status as an internationally recognized motor sports competition."
CART's events in Germany and England mark the first time the open-wheel racing sanctioning organization is visiting the newly built, oval tracks.
"This agreement will allow us to reach a whole new audience with CART racing and we are excited to be working with Mediaset and Italia 1," said CART Vice President of Broadcast Keith Allo. "This relationship will help us as we build CART worldwide television in the years to come."
"The CART Series represents America, a world with which we have a link through motor sports," said Giorgio Terruzzi, Editor in Chief of Mediaset Motorsport. "The fact that Mediaset is able to accompany the debut of the two CART European races is a matter of great pride for us and it is an extraordinary stimulus for us to be able to open the horizon for all the Italian people that follow motor racing."
Of the 26 drivers in CART's FedEx Championship Series in 2001, two are Italians. Max Papis hails from Como and Alex Zanardi from Bologna.
"CART showed a lot of courage by organizing two oval races in Europe, which is traditional road racing territory, but I believe in the end that it is a gamble that will pay off," said Papis, who has earned two victories in Champ Car racing. "This TV arrangement and commitment with Mediaset proves that it is moving in the direction to be a success. I know CART and Italia 1 will work together to provide the Italian audience with two very enjoyable racing afternoons."
Italy actually hosted Champ Car oval racing in 1957 at Monza. Jimmy Bryan was the winner of the Monza 500 after Tony Bettenhausen had qualified on the pole.
"I want to congratulate both CART and Mediaset for offering to the passionate Italian 'tifosi' (fans) the great wheel-to-wheel racing we have on oval tracks," said Zanardi, the CART champion in 1997 and 1998. "I am sure that CART and Italia 1 will develop a new passion for CART racing among Italian racing fans through these two broadcasts."
Promotion of the broadcasts will occur across all three Mediaset Networks and both Papis and Zanardi will be featured in promotional materials that build toward the broadcasts.
The 2001 FedEx Championship Series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the largest paydays in all of motorsports. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.