"Home" competitors deliver results for partners and fans in opening three rounds of 2002 CART Fedex Championship Series. DETROIT (May 1, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. prides itself on bringing the CART FedEx Championship Series to...
"Home" competitors deliver results for partners and fans in opening three rounds of 2002 CART Fedex Championship Series.
DETROIT (May 1, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. prides itself on bringing the CART FedEx Championship Series to a diverse collection of racing facilities all over the world, occasionally giving multi-national companies and racing drivers an opportunity to show their wares in their home countries.
Through the first three rounds of the season, the fans in Monterrey, Mexico; Long Beach, Calif.; and Motegi, Japan have come out in droves, and the "home" competitors have responded favorably in front of their countrymen.
At the season-opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, an estimated 236,000 Mexican race fans turned out over the three-day weekend to see favorite sons Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), and Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) get their seasons off to successful starts, Fernandez by taking his first pole position as an owner/driver, and Jourdain by getting off to the best start in his seven Champ Car seasons with a fourth place run in his maiden race with Team Rahal.
An estimated 250,000 fans passed through the turnstiles over three days at the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and those fans were treated to native Californian Jimmy Vasser's (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) first pole position in 50 races. As many as 125,000 race day fans saw American racing legend Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Reynard/Bridgestone) extend his CART record by winning the 42nd race of his storied career, with Vasser just behind in second place. It was the first time that Americans swept the top two finishing positions since the Molson Indy Vancouver in 1996, when Andretti scored the victory and Bobby Rahal finished second.
Following the theme in this past weekend's Bridgestone Potenza 500 at the state-of-the-art Twin Ring Motegi oval, a record three-day crowd of 101,400 fans ventured out to see Toyota and Honda fight tooth and nail to become the first Japanese manufacturer to win a Champ Car race on its home soil after four years of dominance by Ford-Cosworth.
While Honda made a valiant effort at the facility it funded and built, in the end it was polesitter Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing who gave Toyota what was perhaps its most important victory since joining the CART FedEx Championship Series in 1996. In addition, both of Japan's representatives in the driving ranks delivered top ten results, as Tora Takagi (#5 Pioneer/Denso Special Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) came home with an eighth place run and Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) scored a tenth place results.
All told, over half a million fans have seen the Champ Cars in person through three of 20 rounds on the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, and it is no doubt that many of those fans went home happy. It's a safe bet that many of the manufacturers and sponsors in the series have been equally happy with what they've seen on the race track thus far in 2002.
"The CART FedEx Championship Series is a multi-national racing series with multi-national fans, sponsors and manufacturers, and those folks must be pleased with what they've seen thus far in 2002," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "It may be a bit of a cliché and it has certainly been said in other forms of motor sports before, but better scripts could not have been written for the first three events this season. It has been truly amazing to see how these competitors have managed to raise their game in front of their countrymen and garner such fabulous results.
"This championship delivers real value to those that have invested in it, and that has never been more evident than in these first three races. Mexican companies such as Tecate, Telmex, and Gigante have already seen strong returns on their investment, as have American companies like Motorola, Ford, and Shell. Japanese companies Honda, Toyota, and Bridgestone/Firestone have earned results and accolades throughout their time in the CART FedEx Championship, but those 72,000 flag waving Honda and Toyota fans in the grandstands at Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday and throughout the weekend brought the term 'brand loyalty' to a new level and made it abundantly clear that they enjoy the intense battle between these two automotive powerhouses.
"Our strategy has been to hold events in the most important markets all over the world, and we have found success in all of these markets. We made our first visit of the year to the Pacific Rim this past weekend in Japan, and we continue to view Japan and Australia as very important markets for Champ Car racing. Clearly the fans in both of those countries enjoy their Champ Car racing. Likewise, our events England and Germany have been successful in the European Economic Union, and we've got plenty of successful venues in the NAFTA countries of Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The CART FedEx Championship Series will continue to serve its multi-national fans, competitors, and partners throughout this year and for many years to come."
The CART FedEx Championship Series gets back underway with the Miller Lite 250 at the legendary Milwaukee Mile on June 2 (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET). In the meantime, many CART FedEx Championship Series competitors will focus their attention throughout the month of May on winning the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26. Regular CART competitors have won the event in each of the past two years, with CART drivers sweeping the top five finishing positions in 2001.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as American Honda, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 20-race 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.CART.com.