Continued from part 1 ROGER EDMONDSON: For what it's worth, Gill and I discussed this, and I agree. We've got a tremendous program. We brought 115 cars to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As a daytime event it provided all the entertainment we ...
Continued from part 1
ROGER EDMONDSON: For what it's worth, Gill and I discussed this, and I agree. We've got a tremendous program. We brought 115 cars to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As a daytime event it provided all the entertainment we think people could probably safely handle. So for the foreseeable future, we're going to stay with the format we have.
If things ever change in the situation that Gill has on her schedule or with her neighbors, we are certainly open to the idea of running into darkness. In fact, we kind of pioneered it on these shorter races with Michelle, as a matter of fact. She was the first one to step up and agree to do a sundowner or twilighter. Of course, we're going to continue that at Mid-Ohio because we really have had a good reception to that also.
Q: Michelle, is a factor in putting that race in the evening the fact that it gets pretty hot there at Mid-Ohio that time of year?
MICHELLE TRUEMAN: No. I think the primary reason that we went that direction was to create a unique event and create from a marketing standpoint something for the spectators and our customers that was different than other things that go on at our racetrack. Being able to do it on Saturday night, we only offer one type of ticket to the event. It's a two-day ticket or multi-day ticket, allowing people to come in and enjoy the day on Saturday and go home Saturday night if they want. Since this event is now paired with the tuner activity, it allows us time for that activity also to go on on Sunday as well with the Grand-Am Cup.
It was really looking at just creating an atmosphere and some excitement around a new concept at the racetrack that wouldn't mirror every other road racing event that we have.
ADAM SAAL: Michelle makes an excellent point. The Grand-Am Cup Series will be part of the tuner event that takes place on Sunday. Grand-Am Cup is also part of the schedule out at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Those are great events worth watching, as well.
Q: In regards to car makers, because of the car counts, is it open for a car maker who is not signed with you to be able to provide cars for your organization or are you pretty much limiting it to three or four makers?
ROGER EDMONDSON: We actually have approved six different constructors to make Daytona Prototypes. They have not all had the same level of success. We certainly have sufficient capacity from our builders to meet demand. At the moment, there are no plans to add any new ones. In fact, I'm convinced if we were to announce a new constructor joining the series, it would stop sales immediately because this is a very reactive community and they'd all want to see what the new car is like before they bought anything else.
We're quite comfortable with the supply line we have and with the quality of products we're getting.
Q: What are the possibilities or what is your potential right now for television and radio broadcasting for the events?
ROGER EDMONDSON: Well, at the moment, we are--as we have been since 2000--partnered up with SPEED. That SPEED agreement goes through the 2006 season. We are now early in talks about the potential for the future.
We do not have any radio broadcast, per se, but we do have web casts on www.GrandAmerican.com both in English and in Spanish. Those outreach programs are available to those that cannot pick us up on TV for whatever reason.
Q: In regards to the two-day affair at Mid-Ohio, how is your qualifying program set up? Do you actually qualify same day and race or is there a Friday qualifying then race on Saturday night?
ROGER EDMONDSON: We are early in the process, going through all of the possibilities and looking for the unintended consequences of our plan.
The gist of it is that at Mid-Ohio, where we race on Saturday, we would run a separate 50-mile Sprint race for GT cars and a separate 50-mile Sprint race for Daytona Prototypes, both of which would pay points, just as the main event would on Saturday night. The teams will come with two points-paying opportunities and a certain number of them will transfer from the results of the Friday race into Saturday night's final.
ADAM SAAL: This is indeed the first time we've talked about the unique format for qualifying that Roger just mentioned. Much more work to be done, but we think it's going to add an incredible sprint component to the show that will be very interesting for race fans watching on SPEED Channel as well fans in attendance at the events themselves. Stand by for more information.
Q: Gill, with the date change, how does that impact on our overall schedule for 2006?
GILL CAMPBELL: On the overall schedule, the lineup we just actually released today. It will feature our first event, which is actually still to be confirmed in March, which is the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, with the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series being featured May 5th through the 7th. We'll have a great Cinco de Mayo celebration for that. The Red Bull US Grand Prix also goes back a week or two to July 21st through the 23rd. The 33rd running of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Race will be August 18th through the 20th. Then finishing out our season, the Monterey Sports Car Championships, featuring the American LeMans Series, will be October 20th through the 22nd.
With the US Sports Car Invitational moving -- I think we moved a week or two into May, we're getting away from the rainfall hopefully that we experienced this year in an El Niño year in April.
Q: There will be no conflicts with anything going on in Salinas or Monterey?
GILL CAMPBELL: Not in May, no, other than regular Cinco de Mayo celebrations which I think we'll all be joining in with.
Q: Roger, any talk about splitting the Grand-Am Cup, GS and ST races next year since the car count in that series is going up so high, too?
ROGER EDMONDSON: Obviously, we've had the same conversations there as we've had with the Rolex Series. Again, we're gratified to be having these issues to deal with. Our feelings are exactly the same; that is, if we start sending people home, people are going to stop coming. It's our intention to try to put together a package for qualifying races for the Grand-Am Cup Series, too. It is not our intention at most facilities to run them as separate races.
Q: Do you know when you will be releasing your 2006 schedule?
ROGER EDMONDSON: I'm going to share with the teams this weekend the 12 races that I have currently scheduled and let them know that the schedule will comprise 14 races. I promised them last year that I would not exceed the 14, and I'm keeping that promise.
As you know, we tend to not put things out until they're confirmed, until they're contracted, until we're absolutely sure. I have a couple that I'm not at that point on. I know they're going to take place, but I'm not sure of the details. I don't want people buying airplane tickets or making hotel reservations only to have to make a change.
We'll have a full schedule hopefully in a couple weeks, but we're going to deliver most of it on this Saturday to the teams.
On the Grand-Am Cup side, we have eight of what will probably be an 11- or 12-race schedule, contracted for. Again, the balance will be deferred. But I do want to give the people in the paddock a heads-up on what the budgeting needs will be and where we're going to be going.
ADAM SAAL: This would be an appropriate time to let our friends in the media know there will be a press conference tomorrow that will include Roger as well as Craig Rust, the president of Watkins Glen International Raceway here in the press room at Watkins Glen, where we're actually making this call from right now. The dates for the various Watkins Glen events on the Rolex Sports Car Series schedule will be announced tomorrow. Again, we'll have more confirmed dates tomorrow to go with the two we announced today.
Q: Roger, I've enjoyed both series and I wanted to get your ideas or thoughts about the success of both the American Le Mans and Grand American Rolex Series, why you think both are doing relatively well across the country.
ROGER EDMONDSON: I think I can probably speak better about our series than American Le Mans. But, like everybody else, we have an opinion, so let me give my opinion on their success first.
First off, they've done an excellent job in promoting their product and in using the Le Mans brand name, which is a very strong brand name. The affiliation with the Le Mans 24 Hours is a very strong feature of that series. Actually, they offer sports car racing as it always has been. I don't mean that in any negative way. All of the things that the traditional sports car fan has looked for is available to him in the American Le Mans Series.
When we started Grand American back in 1999, we knew that American Le Mans was coming. They had already run one race. We felt that there was need for a different type of product tailored to the North American marketplace, and there was no need for another version of the American Le Mans Series. When we opened our doors, we had to open our doors with the cars that were available, and they were shared between our series and the series that operates out of Atlanta.
In 2001, we were able to announce our own cars and our own plan. We had just put our head down and worked that plan since. I think there's room for both products in this country. They're both different flavors. Years ago there was just McDonald's, then also Burger King. Now look at all the burger stands everywhere. It's a big country, 300 million people, there's a little something for everybody out there.
Q: Do you think holding to a limited schedule helps both organizations maintain that success level and the interest?
ROGER EDMONDSON: I can only speak to the competitor side and point out that every time we add an event to our schedule, it's about a $2 million expense to our paddock, not to any given team, but it's about 2 million in additional dollars that a has to be raised by the various teams to support one new racing event.
I think having a limited schedule, not trying to run everywhere that we could, is probably to our best advantage. And fortunately for us, we are in a unique position this year that we've not enjoyed in the past. We actually have more venues looking to have a Grand American event than we have weekends to give. To us it's ratification of our concept. We have a new product, we're doing it a new way, and the marketplace is responding both in terms of promoters and in terms of teams.
We've had double-digit increases in all of our major numbers. That would include TV, at-the-track attendance, our grid size, and even our sponsorship. We've got something going the right direction. We don't claim to have all the answers, but we're very proud of this work in progress. Like I've said many times, it's not like building a house where you get a certificate of occupancy, and you're done with it. This will always be a work in progress and we will continue to daily try to improve it and make it grow further.
Q: I appreciate your being at Laguna.
ROGER EDMONDSON: Thank Gill because she was the one who worked so hard to bring us in.
While I've got the floor for this closing moment, I want to thank both Gill and Michelle for the confidence they've shown in our series and the friendship they've extended to me personally. I've worked with both of these ladies for several years, and it's a true pleasure. They're professionals in every respect, and it's a real mark of excellence to Grand American to be associated with both facilities and both people.
Q: Gill, in regards to the 50th anniversary process coming on this year, do you have anything special worked out for each event? Is there anything going on to promote that?
GILL CAMPBELL: We will be kicking off our 50th birthday year, actually celebrating our 50th season of racing. What better way to do it. Maybe I should ask the Grand American folks to keep it to 50 cars so we can tie in there somewhere. Nonetheless, we'll take every single one we can.
But we are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of racing here. It's an amazing accomplishment I think all the way around. What a great way to start off the sports car racing aspect of our season this way. We are going to be featuring special elements during the majority of the events scheduled for next year. Stay tuned. Tickets are on sale right now. Renewals from last year are available. General admission tickets are on sale right now. Don't hold up the process here.
ADAM SAAL: Again, we want to thank Gill and Michelle for taking the time. Roger and I are here at Watkins Glen. We're working. I know, Michelle, you have an event going this weekend. Have a competitive and safe weekend. Thank you again, everybody.
GILL CAMPBELL: Thank you.
MICHELLE TRUEMAN: Thank you.
GILL CAMPBELL: Looking forward to 2006.