CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Series race promotion

INDIANAPOLIS (June 26, 2002) - When Championship Auto Racing Teams signs a deal to have a race at one of the 20 venues on its schedule, its main focus is to tend to the business of racing, while assisting the tracks where needed in the promotional...

INDIANAPOLIS (June 26, 2002) - When Championship Auto Racing Teams signs a deal to have a race at one of the 20 venues on its schedule, its main focus is to tend to the business of racing, while assisting the tracks where needed in the promotional duties.

But this weekend's CART Grand Prix of Chicago is a different beast as the series went to bat in a move to keep one of the nation's biggest markets on its schedule, taking over promotional duties for the event to be run on the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval.

CART is responsible for everything from selling tickets to finding sponsor opportunities at the track in preparation for this weekend's event - a task that is a deviation from the norm, but one that is being handled with aplomb by the race organizers.

"The Chicago market is very important for any sports organization and CART is no different," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "I am very pleased with the spectacular effort put forth by our people as well as our sponsorship and marketing partners in helping build a successful event."

CART set up its own satellite office in Chicago to ensure that its staff would be in touch with everything that needed to be done for the race, having to take over the promotional task after the owners of the track decided that they were not going to hold any auto races this season. CART announced that it was taking over promotional duties on March 4, meaning that tickets have only been available for three months, but the sales have been steady ever since the box office opened.

Sponsors have seen the opportunities presented in Chicago, taking steps to put their names not only in front of the fans that come out to the track, but also to the nationwide audience tuning in on CBS for Sunday's race (3:30 p.m. ET) as well as SPEED Channel for Saturday's live qualifying coverage (2:30 p.m. ET).

Series title sponsor FedEx, tire supplier Bridgestone, wireless equipment provider Motorola and safety team sponsor Simple Green are just some of the companies that have chosen to support the event, along with Toyota, which has supplied many of the track vehicles. Simple Green is also doing a promotion with local ACE Hardware Stores for the race.

Shell is offering an incentive plan for its customers with race tickets as a reward in its 170 Chicagoland area stores. Customers will have the chance to pick up one free Sunday race ticket with any three purchases of $15 or more. In addition, customers will have the opportunity to purchase up to three additional race tickets at a 25-percent discount. Miller Brewing Company and Pepsi are also putting forth promotional efforts to help draw fans to the event.

NOTEWORTHY:

* Craftsman is involved in a number of racing events over the weekend, but has chosen the Chicago race to showcase its Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge program, which rewards teams for their quick work in the pits with a season-ending competition worth $50,000. The program, which pits the four quickest teams over the 2002 season against each other in a season-ending shootout, will have a Wild Card entry available at the Chicago event with the fastest team on race day earning a pass as the fifth team to enter the shootout to be held at California Speedway on Nov. 3.

* SPEED Channel will have a major presence at the popular Taste of Chicago event, setting up a trailer that will be on hand for 10 days, with CART-based giveaways for fans including 'CART Lives On SPEED' posters. A show car will be on display along with a 53-foot CART mural. A 24-foot television screen will be part of the display, showing all of the action from Chicago Motor Speedway including SPEED Channel's CART Friday Night program, which will take place at the festival in Chicago's Grant Park.

* A total of six hours of original programming and nine hours of total coverage will emerge from this weekend's CART Grand Prix of Chicago, including a same-day showing of the CART Toyota Atlantic race that opens action on Sunday afternoon (SPEED Channel, 9 p.m. ET).

* Broadcast times for the events of the CART Grand Prix of Chicago are as follows: CART Friday Night, (SPEED Channel, Friday 10:30 p.m. ET); CART Friday Night re-air (SPEED, Saturday 3:30 a.m. ET); CART Friday Night re-air (SPEED, Saturday 2:00 p.m. ET); CART Qualifying, (SPEED, Saturday 2:30 p.m. ET, live); CART Grand Prix of Chicago (CBS, Sunday 3:30 p.m. ET, live); Toyota Atlantic race (SPEED, Sunday 9:00 p.m. ET); Atlantic race re-air (SPEED, Monday 2:00 a.m. ET).

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Series IndyCar
Teams ART Grand Prix