CHAMPCAR/CART: Financial and stock announcement

DETROIT (April 17, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) today provided financial guidance for 2001, as follows. <pre> The Company estimates that: ** Total revenues expected to be approximately $75 - $78 million ...

DETROIT (April 17, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) today provided financial guidance for 2001, as follows. <pre> The Company estimates that: ** Total revenues expected to be approximately $75 - $78 million ** Pre-tax profit for the year expected to be approximately 32% of total revenues ** EPS expected to be approximately $1.00 - $1.02 </pre> Joseph F. Heitzler, President/Chief Executive Officer, commented: "Our total revenues are projected to increase slightly in 2001, in spite of a decrease in sponsorship revenues. We will actively market all aspects of our sport in 2001 to increase sponsorship, expand our investment in television and, by working with our promoters, increase attendance.

"Now is the time that we must invest in our business by making the necessary expenditures to develop and implement the strategic plan for CART's future. In addition to building our basic plan, we have budgeted approximately $2.7 million for increased television and Internet expenditures for items such as our European television package, retention of our digital media rights and additional marketing opportunities. Although these expenditures will necessarily reduce net income in the short term, we firmly believe that if CART is to meet its challenges, we must invest our resources now."

Sanction fees for 2001 are forecast to be approximately $49.5 million, an increase of approximately 27% when compared to 2000. The increase is attributable to holding one additional race in 2001. Two of the four events new to the schedule in 2001 are inaugural events to be held outside of North America and those events command higher sanction fees.

Sponsorship revenue is forecast to be approximately $14 - $16.5 million, a decrease of approximately 20% when compared to 2000. The decrease is primarily attributable to the loss of the minimum guarantee upon termination of the marketing agreement, as previously announced.

Television revenue is forecast to be approximately $6 - $6.5 million, an increase of 9% - 18% when compared to 2000. Television contracts with ESPN and Brazilian television have minimum guarantee provisions that contain annual escalation amounts. CART receives additional television revenue from advertising, from ancillary television programming and rights fees.

Engine-lease rebuilds and wheel sales are forecast to be approximately $1.3 million, a decrease of approximately 38% from 2000. The decrease is due to fewer entries in the Dayton Indy Lights development series.

Other revenues are forecast to be approximately $4 - $5 million, a decrease of approximately 33% - 46%. The decrease is due to a reduction in royalty revenue from licensed products sales, lower membership and entry fees due to fewer entries in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and certain non-recurring revenue received in 2000 that we will not receive in 2001.

Race payments are forecast to be approximately $17.7 million, an increase of approximately 15%. The increase is attributable to costs associated with holding one additional race in 2001 when compared to 2000 and expense reimbursement to CART's race teams related to the two new races in Europe in 2001.

Race expenses are forecast to be approximately $11 - $11.5 million, an increase of approximately 11% - 17%. The increase is due to holding one additional race, added personnel and increased travel costs in 2001 when compared to 2000.

Administration and other indirect expenses are forecast to be approximately $29 - $30.0 million, an increase of approximately 29% - 33%. The increase is due to developing the company's strategic plan and infrastructure and an increased investment in marketing, promotion, public relations, television and entertainment-related projects.

Mr. Heitzler stated: "The increased investment is designed to help expand the awareness of CART, and the FedEx Championship, Dayton Indy Lights and CART Toyota Atlantic series. One of the ways we will achieve this is to partner with race promoters to increase marketing and promotion of individual races in the Championship and increase attendance at race events. This increased investment will include: <pre> * Expanded marketing and advertising geographically, particularly in areas surrounding race events * Expanded and more focused marketing to Hispanic audiences * Added use of non-traditional event marketing tools. </pre> "The partnership will also help develop a consistent 'CART Branding' message at these events.

"We expect to dramatically improve our television coverage in Europe through an agreement with Eurosport to televise 18 CART races live on Sunday evenings throughout the European continent. Previously, our television coverage in Europe consisted of a one-hour, tape-delayed highlight package on Wednesday evenings.

"It is also important to note that CART has established an Entertainment Department based in Los Angeles to promote CART as an entertainment product. Entertainment-related promotions have been developed around the movie "Driven", starring Sylvester Stallone, and based upon racing in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Additionally, promotions will be created to bring heightened awareness to one of our biggest assets - the stars of our series, the drivers."

Depreciation and amortization is forecast to be approximately $1.6 - $1.7 million, an increase of approximately 18% - 26% in 2001 when compared to 2000. The increase is due to additional capital expenditures forecast at between $1.5 - $2 million for 2001.

CART's quarterly results vary based on the number of races held during the quarter. In addition, the mix between the type of race (street course, superspeedway, domestic or international) and the sanction fees attributed to those races will affect quarterly results. Consequently, changes in the race schedule from year to year, with races held in different quarters, and the timing of certain initiatives described above will result in fluctuations in the company's quarterly results and affect comparability. Therefore, CART will only provide guidance on an annual basis and will not provide quarterly forecasts.

Share Repurchase:

CART also announced today that its Board of Directors has authorized the purchase of up to 2.5 million shares of its outstanding common stock in open market or privately negotiated transactions. Repurchases under the program will be made at the discretion of management based upon market, business, legal, accounting and other factors, and accordingly, there is not a guarantee as to the timing or number of shares to be repurchased.

"We believe that the current market price of our shares does not adequately reflect the value of our business which makes our stock a solid investment and an opportunity to increase shareholder value," said Mr. Heitzler.

In conjunction with this release, CART is hosting a teleconference today at 11 a.m. (ET). Those wishing to participate are asked to call Barbara Tharp at (248) 362-8800, ext. 225, to reserve space on the call and to receive additional call information. The teleconference call-in number is 1-877-917-5787 from the U.S. and Canada. International callers should phone 1-630-395-0031. Password for the teleconference is 'Championship' and the call leader is Thomas Carter. All callers are asked to call in approximately five minutes prior to the starting time to ensure a spot on the call.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE:MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. Champions Gil de Ferran, Alex Zanardi, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the drivers who battle for the FedEx Championship Series title on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

Statements made in this release that state the Company's or management's beliefs or expectations and which are not historical facts or which apply prospectively are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that the Company's actual results could differ materially from those contained or implied by such forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in the Company's SEC filings including, but not limited to, the 10-K and subsequent 10-Q's. Copies of those filings are available from the Company and the SEC.

- CART -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi