Is there really a merger in the works between the President of Formula One (F1) Management, Bernie Ecclestone, and the FedEx Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART)? As rumors run rampant, the fact there was a meeting between CART President/CEO...
Is there really a merger in the works between the President of Formula One (F1) Management, Bernie Ecclestone, and the FedEx Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART)? As rumors run rampant, the fact there was a meeting between CART President/CEO Chris Pook and Ecclestone can lead many to believe that in fact this could be a reality.
"I have had chats with Chris on what could be and what couldn't be," Ecclestone admitted.
In the past few years, many CART drivers and champions have stepped up to Formula One, the premier international open wheel racing series. F1 greats Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi came to CART after successful F1 careers and reached the pinacle by taking championships in the American CART series.
Many of the current CART drivers came from F3000 including Dario Franchitti, Max Papis and this year's champion Cristiano da Matta. Speculation is that Ecclestone will use CART, along with F3000, as a feeder series to F1 ranks.
CART is in trouble for the first time in its twenty-two year history. Many of the teams are either jumping to the Indy Racing League (IRL) for 2003 or they are splitting between the two series.
Mo Nunn Racing has plans to field two cars, one in each series; Chip Ganassi announced two cars instead of one in the IRL next year; Michael Andretti's new team, AGR, will field three cars in the IRL with drivers Franchitti and Tony Kanaan.
It is not new for drivers to switch from one series to another as several F1 and CART drivers have done so in the past. However, the trend lately as been CART champions moving to F1 - Michael Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya. The 2002 champion da Matta has tested for the Toyota F1 team.
CART's problems stem from former management actions, and the resulting withdrawal of Honda and Toyota from the series for 2003. The 2003 field will run with a Ford spec engine and a frozen chassis spec. The current Lola chassis have been grandfathered for 2003 but changes are expected in 2004.
Pook is working with the teams and manufacturers to ensure that CART remains solvent, but, as a public company, the future depends on the stockholders.
"I would welcome Bernie Ecclestone to become a CART stockholder," Pook stated earlier in Miami. "It is a helluva deal right now. Bernie would bring a depth of experience and knowledge to the series. How about it Bernie, want to buy some stock!"
Ecclestone would have to own 51% of the stock to control CART and it is reported that he plans to obtain that stake. The largest shareholder currently is Jerry Forsythe whose current stake is around 25% of the company. CART has in place a Stockholder Rights Plan, "established to ensure that CART shareholders receive fair value and equal treatment in the event of any proposed takeover of the company or other strategic actions."