CHAMPCAR/CART: 2005 schedule announcement transcript (part 1)

Champ Car World Series Schedule Announcement Press Conference Transcript Joe Chrnelich Dick Eidswick MODERATOR: Welcome everyone to today's press conference. We have a lineup with thrilling racing that's delivered six different winners in ...

Champ Car World Series Schedule Announcement Press Conference Transcript
Joe Chrnelich
Dick Eidswick

MODERATOR: Welcome everyone to today's press conference. We have a lineup with thrilling racing that's delivered six different winners in 13 races along with an incredibly talented crop of rookies this year that will indeed be the future of our series. Our fans have spoken loud and clearly as they have turned out record numbers to attend our races this year. And our valued partners such as Ford and Bridgestone have continued their ongoing sport of the series while new series partners such as McDonalds and Roshfrans have joined the ranks.

Champ Car has survived and indeed thrived in 2004 and now we're at a point where we can look ahead to 2005 and beyond. With that, I would like to introduce Dick Eidswick who is president of the Champ Car World Series, and Joe Chrnelich who is the executive vice-president of the series who will now share with you some useful information about our 2005 schedule. Dick.

DICK EIDSWICK: Good afternoon. Thank you all for joining us today. It's a busy time of the year as Wendy said finishing off our 2004 season. We're looking forward to a very exciting race in Mexico City and the result will be the Champion of the series for the year. Exciting time. While we have been executing this year, we have also been planning for the 2005 series building on the momentum that we have established this year.

We're pleased to announce today our 2005 race schedule. Many people have worked very hard on the schedule and it's important to understand the many elements that must be taken into consideration to put together a schedule that makes good business sense for the series, good sense for our promoters, our sponsors, our drivers and our fans. We took several things into account as we determined the venue selection for announcing today.

First of all, we concentrated on those with long-term scheduling commitments; where we are not just doing one-off races, we're doing race that we can do year after year and build up each venue into a marquis event. We wanted to achieve a balance between domestic and international races, the excitement of the international races with all of our international drivers and yet the commitments of our sponsors for the domestic market.

Our schedule also had to reflect a good variety of race courses; circuits that will challenge our versatile and talented drivers. And to create the Champ Car World Series as a true World Series of racing. Lastly, the new venues we have added have been selected on the basis of their long-term economic growth potential, thus creating the marquis events we mentioned earlier. While we are announcing 14 races today, our schedule is still a work-in-progress. This is the starting line that we're announcing today; not the finishing line. We're still continuing conversations with a number of potential venues for the 2005 season and expect further additions for a schedule in the near future. At this point I would like to introduce Joe Chrnelich who has been instrumental in developing the 2005 schedule and he's going to review the individual races. Joe.

JOE CHRNELICH: Thank you, Dick. Welcome, everybody. First of all, I'd like to say this is a very exciting day for us. As you may or may not know, I am very new at Champ Car. This is only my third month on-the-job. But I can tell you that putting together the schedule is a very daunting task. Much more complex once you get into it than you might look at from a distance. But I am excited to be here today and I could tell you a lot of people are going to be very happy we're announcing this. With that, why don't I just go through our dates as we have listed for today.

First of all, no surprise, April 10th will be Long Beach. Long Beach, as you know, we have been there 30 years. It's a tremendous market for us. I'd actually like to quote the mayor when I visited it with her, she said, Joe, even though this is a Champ Car race, you have got to know this is Long Beach's race. The police, the firemen, the city workers, everybody views the race as their race. That's the kind of strength of the market we look for. So we're very pleased to be back there. We look forward to a long-term relationship with them, continuing way into the future.

The next date on the calendar is May 22nd. Again, another strong market for us in Mexico. That's Monterey. We have a very, very good partner down there in CIE. They know their markets. They are in the entertainment business. They do a great job for us so we look forward to going back to Monterey and putting on a great show going into next year.

The next date I am a little bit partial to and that's Milwaukee. Having come from there and being born and raised in Milwaukee, I am delighted to be able to say we're back there again at the oval. It's the oldest operating racetrack in the world, mind you. We have a strong relationship there for many years going backwards and we continue to look forward to that relationship growing in the future. One change you will notice is it won't be a night race. We had discussions with the Mile folks about continuing with the lights and at the end of the day, for two reasons primarily, one being the cost of lighting, but more importantly, the weather. We jointly decided that we would move it to an afternoon race. It's just -- if you are not from Milwaukee, you have got to know that that time of the year is always hit and miss in terms of warm weather, so, we both agreed it would be better on a Saturday afternoon rather than a Saturday evening.

Next race, another long standing destination in our family, and that's Portland. June 19. Earlier in the year you saw they announced a new agreement with the city to be back there and we know the community is delighted about that announcement. We're delighted to be there. We look for that to be a good strong race leading into the future.

Next date on here is Cleveland, and that's June 26th. You notice that is a switch from last year. Our promoter down there had talked to us about moving the date because the city and a lot of the stakeholders there said, look, we think we have got a better chance to grow the event on non-fourth of July because people tend to be in town and it's easier to schedule-wise so we agreed to move it back to that date and again that's a long-standing destination for us and venue and we look for great things coming out of Cleveland.

Next date on the calendar is July 10th and that's Toronto. Now what I want to tell you about Toronto is we have agreement with Molson to be our promoter for that race and they are a great promoter as you know, but I will also tell you at this time that we have reserving our final award for that 'til tomorrow. We have been in discussions with Molson. They have requested that. We have agreed with that but we will tomorrow provide a final award approval but we're withholding that at this time. Stay tuned tomorrow for a release coming out of Molson.

The next date on the calendar is a new one. As you know, we have been in discussions with the province of Alberta. We have been talking with multiple promoters and we are absolutely delighted to say that we have awarded a race to the city of Edmonton. What you need to know is the promoter group there is a formidable group. They have some very highly recognizable investors in the sports world. They have been working on trying to get an event for Edmonton close to two years now. Quite frankly, that's what impressed us - their thoroughness, the level of support behind the race between government officials, the business community, and it's just they were bound and determined to try and get a race for Edmonton and we're delighted to finally to be able to say officially they have succeeded in doing that. So you will see that race on July 17.

The next race on the calendar, again as a new race, we have it listed as the Silicon Valley Grand Prix. You may or may not have seen this the other evening that we announced that we have signed an agreement with a new promoter for that area called the Canary Fund. At this time they will be our promoter. We will tell you we will have a race in the Silicon Valley in '05. But we're not prepared quite yet to tell you the exact location of Silicon Valley's race. Stay tuned for that. That should be forthcoming shortly.

Moving further into the calendar, into the year, is August 14th. Again, that's a great great destination for us, one which we think holds great promise and that is the City of Denver. As a lot of people saw last year, they put on a great show there. We have a terrific partner in Centrix Financial. Bob Sutton and his promotions crew, Jim Hancock, Jim Freudenberg, they know how to put on a race. The Denver community really proved to us last year that they wanted to embrace this race for the long-term. So we're back in Denver again next year, we're happy to say that and look for great things coming out of that town.

Next on the calendar, no surprise, August 28th, that's Montreal. Obviously racing in Canada and particularly in Montreal is very, very good for Champ Car and for the community. The community embraces our product. We have a lot of races from that area, so we're happy to say we're back in Montreal again next year and again we look for good things coming out of Montreal over the long haul.

Next race on the schedule is Las Vegas, September 24th. As you know, we raced there last year or this year, not too far back at the motor speedway. What I can tell you is right now we're in the final stages of our deal discussions with the motor speedway. They have not been completed. But I can tell you with most certainty based on the progress, positive discussions we have had on Las Vegas we'll be in Las Vegas in 05. Also I would like to take a moment to tell you what a great partner Chris Powell and his team have been to us. We see a lot of good opportunities for us to forge ahead with that relationship in the Las Vegas market moving forward.

Next on the calendar, this I think will be a surprise, that will be October 16th, that's in Ansan, Korea. As you know, we had that on the schedule for this year's season, but last minute ran into a problem with government approvals. Was not an issue from our perspective, but we just flat out ran out of time. Moving forward for this schedule I want to reassure people several things. One is we have a signed agreement with a new promoter, all the financial requirements have been met and satisfied; all the government approvals have been met and satisfied.

So we're very confident and very excited about saying we will be in Korea in 2005. We look for great things on a growth basis out of that region whether it be from corporate sponsorships, or additional fan growth, it's a great market for us and we're delighted to be there.

Right after that, this is going to be a bit of a road trip for us, is obviously Australia. As everybody saw last weekend again, our last race, Australia is a tremendous, tremendous race destination for us. We have got a strong partner promoter down there, James O'Brien and his team continue to show us they know what they are doing and the market continues to respond favorably to us in terms of their attendance and the excitement in that area. It's a great destination and one we're going to be at for a long time to come.

Last destination if you will, on next year's schedule, Mexico City, November 6th. Again, Mexico is a prime market for us. There are a long list of reasons why we want to be in Mexico and continue to be in Mexico and again we have got the right partner with us which is CIE. That right now in total is our schedule we're releasing. I would like to close with a couple of comments and I will turn it back to either Dick or Wendy here. One is at that I want to reinforce with everybody that this is I want people to look at this as the starting line; not the finish line.

When you put together a schedule and I have learned this in a very short period of time - there are a lot of variables and considerations to put into account when you formulate a schedule. They are constantly in a state of motion. Our job is to make sure that we follow that path and continue to move the schedule toward the final resolution. Again, this is 90 days of work on my part. I could tell you that we are very excited about some of the destinations we have on here and furthermore I would like to say, by looking at the new destinations we put on the calendar, that should give a lot of reassurance to the racing community that Champ Car is back very strong. Our product is very appealing and has a lot of strength in the auto racing world. You don't get these new destinations in place because you have a weak product. We have a very strong product and that's a great signal for us moving forward in terms of our future.

Lastly, I will tell you that again, even though this is the starting line; not the finish, there are ongoing discussions with other venues and promoters. Those will continue and you should not be surprised if you see some additional announcements coming down the pike, but again as I have stated, there are a lot of variables and things in motion that we have to keep addressing. At the point in time we finally work our way through that you will see the '05 schedule in total.

Q: Obviously venues such as Laguna Seca and Road America as well as the street race in Vancouver are not on the schedule.

JOE CHRNELICH: We're in continuing discussions with each of those. One thing we have to do and Dick alluded to this earlier, we have got to make sure when we have an agreement that works for both sides, for both parties involved. It makes no sense for us to have a good agreement economically for ourselves or for other reasons and the promoter not have a good deal. It's got to be a balanced agreement. In those three instances we're still working towards that. I will tell you in Vancouver in particular is a little bit different scenario. We clearly understand the community is working and focused on the Olympics. It's no secret. It's been discussed publicly and that's certainly has added a little bit more pressure, if you will, or taken away some of the focus on the race.

We think it's a great community. We receive great support. But we also know when the Olympics come to town, whether it's us or anybody else, you have got to tip your hat to the Olympics. We understand that's the case. So we're trying to work our way through it to see if we can still make it work between the promoter, ourselves and the city. I will tell you if we do not prevail on that, there is no reason to think that we can't be back in Vancouver once we have allowed the Olympics to take place. Again, we appreciate the support we receive there. It's a great market for us, but end of the day, the Olympics are a once in almost a lifetime type thing for cities so we understand that.

DICK EIDSWICK: The other two markets, Road America and Laguna Seca are both very interesting tracks. They are very popular with the fans and with the drivers and we're working together with the promoters on those races to come up with an economic solution that makes sense. We're still working with both of them.

Q: What is the ideal number of races?

DICK EIDSWICK: I think between 16 and 18 races is just about ideal for our series.

Q: Are you looking at starting the year any earlier?

DICK EIDSWICK: I think starting about a month earlier than that makes sense to us we'd like to have the races staged evenly throughout the year so that we're constantly on TV and in the eyes of our fans.

Q: Will you be making any changes to the television package?

DICK EIDSWICK: As you know the TV schedule and the race schedule are very closely linked together as we have been working on that. We think we have an exciting combination that we're going to talk about in two weeks from now.

Q: Can you tell us anything about the television package?

DICK EIDSWICK: We're going to have different TV partners next year and we're going to be very excited about announcing that in about two weeks.

ERIC MAUK: Just a reminder to everyone on the teleconference in case you hadn't seen it yet the Toyota Atlantic Championship for 2005 today announced that Toyota and Yokohama have pledged their support and will be back as series sponsors in the Toyota Atlantic Championship for 2005. So that's certainly good news for everyone concerned there. I'd like to go ahead and start the questions now.

Q: Can you clarify what you were talking about Toronto and the delay in awarding or something until tomorrow, I wasn't sure what you were getting at there.

JOE CHRNELICH: At this time what we're saying is we do have agreement with Molson to be our promoter. In our discussions they had asked that we reserve judgment on the award until tomorrow. There will be a meeting taking place tomorrow in Toronto. At that time Molson will have an official announcement.

Q: Is that just a date or is it awarding of the race all encompassing?

JOE CHRNELICH: All encompassing.

Q: Can you tell me about the race in Edmonton, there has been a regional stock car race up in the airport area there. Are you going to be using the same course there or will you do something maybe Downtown on the street?

JOE CHRNELICH:  It's the airport, that's the track that has been mapped
out by our promoter.  That's where we'll be.

Q: First of all, a couple housekeeping things because unfortunately if you guys said them I missed the date for Long Beach and for Milwaukee. We're not hearing the questions that the people in your office asked. So we don't know what you guys were responding to there. But I also missed a couple of dates for Long Beach and for Milwaukee.

JOE CHRNELICH: Long Beach April 10. Milwaukee is June 4.

Q: Perhaps you already addressed this, can you tell us anything about the other venues that are still on the table and you are still negotiating with?

JOE CHRNELICH: Probably the best way to describe it is in a general blanket statement, there are international races and domestic races that we're continuing to have discussions with. I think if anybody looks at the schedule we have before us right now you will see some gaps in the schedule. Some wide open areas, that will probably be a signal that maybe those remain to be filled. So that's probably the best comment I can make in general in terms of the ongoing discussions with potential new venues, either existing or new venues.

Q: You guys mentioned, Road America, Laguna, and Vancouver in a previous question. Are those three venues among those that you continue negotiating with?

JOE CHRNELICH: Correct.

Continued in part 2

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