CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford-Cosworth, Bridgestone and CART press conference, Part II

Ford-Cosworth, Bridgestone and CART press conference November 21, 2002 An Interview with Chris Pook, Dan Davis, Ian Bisco, Al Speyer and Emerson Fittipaldi. Part 2 of 2 Adam Saal: Speaking of partners, we'd like to ask Al Speyer to join us...

Ford-Cosworth, Bridgestone and CART press conference
November 21, 2002

An Interview with Chris Pook, Dan Davis, Ian Bisco, Al Speyer and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Part 2 of 2

Adam Saal: Speaking of partners, we'd like to ask Al Speyer to join us up here. Both sponsors alongside of our CART president. If you could make the Bridgestone announcement. An announcement was made at California Speedway not too long ago, a couple weeks ago. It really shocked some people. Al said it definitely made sense for Bridgestone. He's here to talk about what now must seem like a very good move. Al, give us your thoughts about now and the future.

Al Speyer: Thank you, Adam. Good afternoon everyone.

As Adam said, a couple weeks ago we announced at Fontana [California] that Bridgestone will be the presenting sponsor of CART. We're doing this largely, as we stated in Fontana, because Bridgestone in our international brand. We promote it worldwide, in many countries, but we need to focus a little bit more in North America for our Bridgestone brand. It's very important to our business.

We changed over to the Bridgestone brand starting this year. It's already built some momentum for us. The next logical step was simply to take the position as presenting sponsor.

We really like the international flavor of CART, running not only in North America, but the international events. That challenge that it gives us technically with the variety of tracks, CART racing on not only speedways and ovals, but the street circuits, permanent road courses, very much helps us demonstrate the technology in our tires to the racing fans and the general public because, as Dan wants to sell Ford cars and trucks, we want to sell Bridgestone tires.

We're very excited about this announcement today. It is another building block, another piece of the momentum for growing into next year. There have been some team announcements made already, driver announcements. Now we know the manufacturers. We're very excited and looking forward to working together with some new blood in 2003.

Saal: Thank you very much, Al.

Again, as a former CART and Formula 1 world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi set the standard for racing for many decades. He's been a proponent of CART, as well as Ford-Cosworth racing engines that took him to many wins in championships. You were with us in Portland, as well, when we announced Cosworth. Tell us what you think these decisions will make for the future of CART.

Emerson Fittipaldi: Well, first I would like to congratulate Ford and Cosworth for being involved with CART, and I congratulate Chris Pook.

Ford's name in motor racing, like Chris says, is very traditional. I remember in 1969 when I went to England to race a Formula Ford, I had this opportunity to show what I could do with my talent against top young drivers from all over the world, most based in England. It was a new formula. That's the reason I was able to leave Brazil. I started racing in a competitive way in England. At that time there were big names like Jim Schenke from Australia, he was at that time the Formula Ford championship. I arrived from Brazil. I was received at that time by Ford Brazil. A very big manufacturer in Brazil, very big in the Brazilian public presence, very successful in Brazil, has helped a lot of young Brazilian drivers. I met Walter Hayes, who was one of the people responsible at that time to get Ford and Cosworth working together. They supplied Colin Chapman's first V8 engine to Jim Clark and Graham Hill. I was very lucky that I was able to join that very special group of people, not just Colin Chapman, but Walter Hayes, who I have a very good memory of. He was like my tutor, my advisor at that time. That showed how much tradition Ford and Cosworth has in racing.

Then when I arrived here in America, I joined CART in 1984, 1985. I had many wins again with Ford-Cosworth. I'm sure for next year on, when everybody has the Ford-Cosworth engines, it will be a very competitive series, more competitive than ever, like when I joined here. Again, it's going to show the drivers' talents. It's going to be a great show for the public, for TV, and the drivers are going to show who is going to be the best driver.

Again, congratulations to Ford, to Cosworth, Chris Pook for CART, and Bridgestone for joining us. I'm sure we're going to be the most competitive series, the most challenging series from a driver's point of view, perspective. Many people talk about IRL, about Formula 1, but we are the most challenging for any driver to come here and race. We have the short ovals, we have long ovals, two-mile ovals, street circuits, and road circuits. That's a challenge. Who wins here can go to Formula 1 and will be a real championship, like this year Cristiano da Matta. We have the best series. Thank you.

Saal: Thank you very much, Emerson. Coming from you, it means a great deal. We're definitely going to live up to your expectations for next year.

Chris, we'd like to give it back to you before we open it up from comments from the media. Reiterate what the official name of the series will be and what we can look for in the coming weeks as far as additional announcements related to that logo?

Pook: I'm happy to announce the series will now be known as Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Q: Dan, talk about the process you went through to come to this agreement?

Davis: A couple things. You and I talked about this maybe in Miami. You wrote a really nice article that came out, that was extremely accurate about that. One of the things that as a very large company as we are, being so international, so many different activities and people interested in motorsports, want to contribute in motorsports, it's difficult for me to keep everyone at Ford up to speed in terms of what was happening in CART.

For a while we were going to do a new engine that was going to be naturally aspirated, then that changed. With all the changes, what occurred, it was very difficult for me to keep all of our management people together in terms of what's happening and why should we be supporting this series. As we all know here, it turned out to be a spec engine series with Cosworth. I had a to do a lot of educating within Ford to get everyone on the same page so they understood why it made sense to do it, that it was perfectly logical to support Cosworth that secured the engine program. That took a while, number one.

Secondly, we had to look at: Which brands are we going to promote? Ford has a number of fantastic brands. We use Jaguar in Formula 1, we're now going to be using Ford in Formula 1, there's Mazda, Volvo, et cetera. We needed to look at: How are we going to do that? Are we going to try to involve all brands or just one brand? There were a lot of deliberations, a lot of education that needed to take place.

We are the kind of company that wants to be very inclusionary in terms of letting everyone in upper management understand what we're doing and have the opportunity to debate it and discuss it with us. That all occurred. We got it all finished up in the last month.

Everyone's ready, as I indicated earlier, to hit the gas. Everyone at Ford Motor Company, I can tell you, the entire upper management team at Ford Motor Company is behind this program. We don't have one dissenter that says, "What are you doing?" or "Why?" Maybe it took me a while to get that done, but for me that is a very powerful process and a very powerful stamp of approval of what we're doing and how strongly Ford feels about it.

I can tell you all the way up to our chairman looked at this program and said, "Go."

Q: Can you talk about the marketing involved?

Davis:  I can't really tell you all the specifics.  Some of those
programs have to come together.  We really want to get the local Ford
activities together when there's a race in their community.  That's work
yet to be done.  That's something that will be ahead of us.

Certainly from the national standpoint, from the corporate division standpoint, we're there. We already have the funding and so forth to bring forward the program. At the local level, we've got some work to do. That will be our challenge as we roll this program out. We've got some new cities we're going to that we have to just deal with what we call Ford dealer associations. We really need to get to them and outline the opportunities that are there for them, get them to understand how they can utilize this form of motorsports to help sell products.

You know, the term "Race on Sunday, sell on Monday" is a great term. In reality what happens is an automobile is such a major purchase for most people, really the influence is cumulative, it's long-term. We're really pushing the Ford brand and the association with being a winner, being with a great racing series, the excitement, all that. That's what we call loyalty. We're trying to build brand loyalty here. You build brand loyalty with winning, being associated with quality activities and quality companies. That's where we are with this one.

Saal: Are you going to take advantage of the drivers in marketing your product?

Davis: I would really like to do that. That is not something we have planned yet. As a director of racing, I feel just so strong that the drivers are the real key to the success of helping your brand. We've done that in all the other series we've been in. We've done that with our drivers in the current CART arena. I hope to expand that, yes. I think it's a huge opportunity for us.

Saal: David, as the man in charge of CART's media relations, I'm looking forward to working with our partners at Ford as well as Bridgestone to do exactly that, to take the new drivers coming in and develop them into recognizable and marketable and known sporting celebrities here in this country. It's no small task, but we're definitely going to shoot for that, we have to shoot for that. I'm very much looking forward to this. We have some good resources with the PR components in both these corporations.

Q: Can you talk about Ford Canada, Mexico, Australia, are they on board?

Davis: I think the simple answer to that is they're on board, but we don't have a program yet. The opportunity is in front of us to go explore, but we haven't explored it yet. That's the challenge ahead of us. It's a good challenge. I mean, obviously the races in Canada are phenomenal. The races in Mexico are phenomenal. Ford Mexico has been involved in the past. Now we get a chance to really expand on that. But we have work ahead of us on that one.

Saal: Gentlemen, thank you very much.


Part I

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jim Clark , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chris Pook , Graham Hill , Cristiano da Matta , Colin Chapman