CART's Engine Manufacturers Discuss Proposed Engine Formula - Marc Sproule CART's four engine manufacturers agree on one thing: There shouldn't be any more than 20 Champ Car races in a season. "We feel that 20 is about where we ...
CART's Engine Manufacturers Discuss Proposed Engine Formula - Marc Sproule
CART's four engine manufacturers agree on one thing: There shouldn't be any more than 20 Champ Car races in a season.
"We feel that 20 is about where we would like to be," said Jim Aust, Toyota's motorsports director. "Perhaps one more, depending on where it would be. But from the standpoint of overall costs, obviously, it's a very costly program and more races mean more money. We would like to see it stabilize somewhere in and around where it is now."
Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance and Development said Honda also believes 20 is the right number. "I would say that 20 is basically at the limitation of budget and structure that Honda has in place. I would say that Honda would be in favor of more races in the right markets, but keeping the number around 20."
Mercedes-Benz's motorsports boss Norbert Haug emphasized that higher quality races and better overall marketing by CART are more important than the sheer volume of races. "I think the most important point is having the right races in the right places with better marketing," he said. "Better 15 races marketed in a perfect way with full grandstands than what we have right now with 14 or 15 good ones, but five that are only so-so."
Dan Davis, Ford's director of Special Vehicle Operations, reiterated Haug's point. "I couldn't agree more. This is a cost-benefit ratio. You've got a cost on one side and a benefit on the other. You can't just add costs and get no benefits."
The manufacturers' representatives added they were interested in CART possibly adding races in the next few years on new oval tracks being built in England and Germany -- but not without careful thought and planning.
"Toyota is a very global company," Toyota's Aust noted, "so obviously from Toyota's perspective the exposure in those two countries would benefit Toyota. But to add those two races just for the sake of adding races, without taking a real sincere look at that series as it currently exists, is probably not the answer."
Clarke said the series' domestic growth is more important to Honda than adding more overseas races. "Honda is a very international company, and we have business in the U.K. and Europe, so those races would obviously be a marketing opportunity," he said.
"I don't think Honda is against having races in those markets, but we would like to see CART focus its efforts and put more emphasis on the North American market before trying to expand into the international market."
Mercedes-Benz man Haug agreed.completely with that point. "That is very much our point of view, as well. I don't think it should become a second Formula One series. It should be an American racing series with important races outside America like Australia and Japan. If the Lausitzring [in Germany] project is on, we would be happy to race there, but it should not be a world tour.
"I think what CART needs is further improvement in its television coverage, especially here in the States. That is crucial. The racing is great, and it should get more interest from the media. The right way to go is not having more international growth."
Ford's Davis also stressed the need for better marketing from CART: "I'm in full agreement. The racing on the track is fantastic. It's probably the best racing in the world, but it's not marketed properly to the point where we've got the fans overflowing and more media and so forth. That's the No. 1 priority. Get that straightened out first, then we can talk about going farther afield."
Source: CART Online