CHAMPCAR/CART: 1999 Television Package Announced

CART Announces Domestic and Global 1999 Television Packages Domestic Television Package: The 1999 FedEx Championship Series television schedule will be bolstered by a record-setting 13 of 20 races on ABC-TV - the other seven will be with ESPN,...

CART Announces Domestic and Global 1999 Television Packages

Domestic Television Package:

The 1999 FedEx Championship Series television schedule will be bolstered by a record-setting 13 of 20 races on ABC-TV - the other seven will be with ESPN, the leading national sports cable network - and will feature the new lead announcing tandem of veteran Paul Page and former CART driver Parker Johnstone.

The 13 ABC events, including the inaugural Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway on Aug. 22, are the most network television appearances in the history of CART, which is entering its 21st season of competition. CART also will feature more events on network television this season than any other motorsports sanctioning body.

"Our relationship with ABC and ESPN has grown stronger through the years and this season's schedule with 13 network races is a testament to that bond," CART President and Chairman Andrew Craig said. "We believe that this is the strongest schedule CART has enjoyed in more than a decade, if not its history."

Of those 13 ABC-televised events, nine will have identical time slots of 4-6 p.m. ET. The time slot will provide a form of consistency for the viewers as well as move the FedEx Championship Series into an extremely advantageous time slot.

"The advantage of the time slot is two-fold," said Keith Allo, CART vice president of television. "First, HUT [Homes Using Television] levels are generally higher later in the day. Second, local evening newscasts typically garner some of the highest ratings in most major markets and the races should benefit as a lead-in to the newscasts."

ESPN will broadcast the remaining seven events, including the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota set for Oct. 31 at California Speedway, and all but one will be shown live.

ESPN also will enhance the coverage of the two international races it will broadcast this season. The Firestone Firehawk 500 in Motegi, Japan, scheduled for April 12, and the Hondy Indy in Surfers Paradise, Australia, set for Oct. 17, will be shown live, beginning at midnight ET on those respective dates. Both also will be shown on ESPN2 the following day.

In an effort to ensure race fans a full day of racing competition, only one FedEx Championship Series race - the July 25 U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway - will compete head-to-head with a NASCAR Winston Cup race. Only three overlaps of events with Winston Cup races are expected throughout the season.

"We were very mindful of avoiding head-to-head conflicts with other motorsports on television," Allo said. "Hopefully, this will prove beneficial to all motorsports fans as it allows them an entire afternoon of racing action. It's a win-win situation for everybody."

The ABC schedule kicks off with the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex on March 21. The event also will kick off the 4-6 p.m. time slot on ABC.

The network also will broadcast the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 18); Rio 200 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Sunday, May 16); Motorola 300 in Madison, Ill. (May 29); Miller Lite 225 in West Allis, Wis. (June 6); Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline in Portland, Ore. (June 20); Texaco/Havoline 200 in Elkhart, Wis. (July 11); Molson Indy in Toronto (July 18); U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota (July 25) in Brooklyn, Mich.; Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit (Aug. 8); Target Grand Prix in Chicago (Aug. 22); Molson Indy Vancouver (Sept. 5); and Texaco Grand Prix of Houston (Sept. 26).

ESPN coverage opens Saturday, April 10 with Round 2 of the season, the Firestone Firehawk 500. ESPN also will televise the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota in Nazareth, Pa. (May 2); Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank (June 27); Miller Lite 200 in Lexington, Ohio (Aug. 15); Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 (Sept. 12); Honda Indy in Surfers Paradise, Australia (Oct. 17) and The 500 Presented by Toyota in Fontana, Calif. (Oct. 31).

Page and Johnstone will spearhead the broadcast team for both networks as the duo will provide an exciting blend of veteran motorsports broadcasting experience with the insightful as well as humorous perspective of a former Champ Car driver.

Page, 53, returns to the announcing booth for Champ Car racing, lending his expertise and more than two decades of experience in the sport to the broadcasts. He has been a commentator for ABC Sports auto racing coverage since 1987 and also served as ESPN's host and lead commentator for FedEx Championship Series events from 1989-96.

Johnstone, 37, makes his network television debut at the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota. He served as the color commentator during FedEx Championship Series events for the CART Radio Network in 1998 after spending four seasons in the series as a driver. Johnstone competed for Comptech Racing from 1994-96 and Team KOOL Green in 1997, earning his lone career pole at Michigan in 1995 and a career-best runner-up finish at Long Beach the following season. He also was a six-time IMSA champion prior to his arrival in the FedEx Championship Series.

Page and Johnstone will not be the only new faces on the ABC and ESPN telecasts. Shawn Murphy, the former producer of ESPN's RPM 2Night motorsports show, will serve as race producer and Mark Causey, former technical director for ESPN motorsports telecasts, as director. Beginning this season, all FedEx Championship Series telecasts will be produced by ESPN, the recognized leader in motorsports television.

Global Television Package:

Agreements with Eurosport and Colombia-based RTI Television highlight the 1999 FedEx Championship Series global television package, which will include coverage of the record 20-race series in nearly 190 countries.

ESPN International, as the exclusive worldwide television representative for the FedEx Championship Series, has placed broadcast agreements that will transmit the series on a live or tape-delay basis to an average per-event audience of 60 million viewers.

"With eighteen drivers representing seven different countries from outside the USA, the global appeal of the FedEx Championship Series is tremendous," said Mark Reilly, Vice President of International Sales for ESPN International. "Racing fans around the world want to cheer their national heroes and this series provides that opportunity."

The Eurosport agreement was renewed for three years and now extends through 2001. Eurosport broadcasts FedEx Championship Series events live in prime time throughout Europe and also airs a highlights package on Monday evenings. Eurosport, which airs in 47 countries in 14 languages and reaches over 80 million homes, will also air highlights of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights series. .

RTI, a new broadcasting partner, will broadcast each of the record 20 events which comprise the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season, beginning with the March 21 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at Homestead, Fla. Since Tuesday, the oval at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex has also played host to FedEx Championship Series Spring Training.

RTI (Radio Television Interamericana) is a terrestrial broadcast network which transmits 18 hours a day and reaches approximately two million homes in Colombia.

"We are extremely pleased to have RTI Television on board in 1999, as we undertake the most ambitious schedule in FedEx Championship Series history," said Keith Allo, CART vice president of television. "This is especially significant because we add a native Colombian, Juan Montoya, to our roster of competitors this season."

The 23-year-old Montoya, who won the 1998 European Formula 3000 championship for Super Nova Racing, succeeds two-time FedEx Championship Series champion Alex Zanardi with the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team, which bids for an unprecedented fourth consecutive FedEx Championship Series title in 1999.

In addition to Eurosport and RTI, Nippon TV will anchor coverage in Japan and serve as host broadcaster for Round 2 of the series, the April 10 Firestone Firehawk 500 from Twin Ring Motegi. Additional agreements have also been executed with broadcasters in the homelands of other FedEx Championship Series drivers, including Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, SBT in Brazil, TSN in Canada, and TV Azteca in Mexico.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Zanardi , Chip Ganassi , Shawn Murphy
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Tags TV