An interview with Chris Pook, Bobby Rahal, Michel Jourdain Jr., Angel Losada and Angel Alverde. Adam Saal: We have a very important announcement here. Some of the finest names in motorsports, as well as retail marketing, commercial merchandise...
An interview with Chris Pook, Bobby Rahal, Michel Jourdain Jr., Angel Losada and Angel Alverde.
Adam Saal: We have a very important announcement here. Some of the finest names in motorsports, as well as retail marketing, commercial merchandise in general, are joining us.
I'd like to introduce to my immediate left, Mr. Chris Pook, President and CEO of CART, Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of Team Rahal's #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bobby Rahal, three-time CART Champion and co-owner of Team Rahal, Angel Losada, President of Grupo Gigante, and Angel Alverde, Director General of Office Depot Mexico. Welcome.
To get things underway, I'd like to ask Bobby and Angel Losada for their announcement.
Bobby Rahal: Thank you, Adam. Good morning, everyone. It's a great day for us and for a relationship that we started about nine months ago. It's been a fantastic relationship. Today I would like announce a multi-year agreement between Team Rahal and Gigante. We are very proud of this extension of the agreement. We have enjoyed working with the very professional people of Gigante over the course of this year. Of course, Michel has had his best year ever. We're very pleased for him. I have to say on behalf of my partner, David Letterman, who extends his appreciation for the extension of this relationship, his well wishes.
And I think that although we've only been together about nine months, the thing that impressed me most about Gigante and their people was the enthusiasm with which they undertook this program at a very late time. We didn't really start till about, what, two weeks before spring training earlier this year. It came together so very well. We've had tremendous support from some of the vendors of Gigante, as well, Office Depot. And I have to say we're very, very pleased with what we see the future being.
Of course, I described Michel as "a diamond in the rough" about nine months ago. We've polished on him a little bit this year. As I say, it's been a fantastic year for him. We hope today he can end up on a winning note.
Once again, I want to express my appreciation to you, Angel, and Angel, as well, everyone from Gigante, all the people that helped put this program together. Thank you.
Adam Saal: Congratulations, Bobby. We at CART of course share your thanks to both Angel Losada and Angel Alverde.
We'd like to hear from Angel Losada to talk about how you feel, particularly about your young driver.
Angel Losada: Thank you very much. Good morning, everybody. We're very happy, very enthusiastic about this program one more time. We're here and we are announcing that Michel will represent Grupo Gigante with Team Rahal. We are very, very happy.
This thing has not been easy for us as a retailer. You always think about groceries, different departments that we have in the stores. But we have accomplished many things in this year with Michel. Michel is a great man, a young man. He's done great for us in promotions in Gigante, going out there to the stores, talking to our customers. That's very, very nice. I mean, today I was surprised how many girlfriends he's got, how many friends he just met today. I mean, it's incredible. He cannot even walk. He needs a lot of bodyguards.
Actually, he doesn't need bodyguards because he's a nice guy, always willing to sign [autographs], to talk to people, to talk to the fans who love him. They said a couple months back, there were a lot of rumors that Gigante will not continue with Team Rahal, et cetera. Rumors are rumors; this is reality. We're here and we are very happy. We will continue with this program. Thank you very much.
Adam Saal: Thank you, Angel.
Chris, this has to be a source of pride for you today. Chris has stated publicly many times with the media that the NAFTA program is incredibly important. I believe our new partners personify what NAFTA is all about.
Chris Pook: First of all, I'd like to congratulate Team Rahal and Gigante on this renewed relationship. It's absolutely superb for our series. Also to Michel, who has carried not only the Mexican flag very proudly and very well this year, but also the Gigante and Team Rahal flag. You folks need to be very proud of this young man. He's a gentleman and a diplomat and terrific professional athlete. Apart from that, he's a pretty good race car driver. Thank you, Michel, for what you do.
Obviously for CART, this is a very significant announcement because part of our marketing platform has been the NAFTA model, North American Free Trade Association, the relationship between Canada, Mexico and the United States. The fact that we have a retail company such as Gigante and Office Depot together joining in this program, they are bringing their suppliers to the program, they are also expanding into the United States, that speaks to the NAFTA model.
The business-to-business aspect of this is what really Championship Auto Racing Teams and this series are all about. We are absolutely delighted with this announcement today. I particularly want to thank Angel Losada for his leadership in getting this program through. He and I met about two and a half, three weeks ago here in Mexico City with his senior staff. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a businessman that knew where he was going with his company and knew what he wanted to do. These are the sort of people we want to have involved in our program.
Particularly I want to reference the fact of the huge support that Gigante has given to this event this weekend. They came forward early on. They stepped forward. They embraced the event. They've played a huge role in helping promote this race. Angel and all your staff, thank you very much for that.
Angel Losada: Thank you.
Adam Saal: Thank you very much, Chris.
A gentleman who will be very busy just a couple hours from now, took the time to join us for an incredible announcement. This continues a program that has seen Michel Jourdain, Jr. achieve his greatest professional success. He can only build on that today for next year.
Michel, it's going to be a good Christmas for you. You're going to head into it knowing you have a key component of your professional career in place, you're ready to go. Talk about that great feeling.
Michel Jourdain Jr.: English or Spanish?
Adam Saal: A bit of both would be appropriate.
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, yeah, this is unbelievable. For the first time in my life, I think I'm going to start the last race of the season knowing that I have something to do next year. That will make for a very nice race. That will make for a good vacation, good Christmas. It's the best feeling to know that I can go to the gym next week, I can start working out for next year, get ready, not worry about all the other things, if I would have a car or not to drive. That's the best feeling ever.
Especially to continue the relationship with Gigante, Office Depot, everybody, obviously Team Rahal, it's been the best. I mean, to do what I love the most, to be surrounded by the best people in the world, not only as professionals, but the quality of the people, everybody in Gigante, Office Depot, Team Rahal, it's just the best.
It's been not only the best year of my life in the track, but also as my personal life. It makes it very easy to go every night to bed and sleep nice because I'm surrounded by the best.
I think next year we have a good shot at winning lots of races. This year we were very close many times. We still have one shot, and we're going to try very hard today. I think the car is very good. But I think next year we have a good shot of winning the championship. That's for sure the goal. If I didn't think that, I wouldn't be racing anymore. I think we have all the tools there to win the championship. We'll try very hard to do it. Thank you very much.
Adam Saal: Angel Alverde, thank you for your support. Talk about the great business-to-business and marketing and promotional opportunities this partnership offers Office Depot.
Angel Alverde: I will say it's been a great year with Team Rahal, Michel, Gigante, everyone. We've really enjoyed it. It's been a first experience for Grupo Gigante in racing. I will say we have learned a lot. We have used a lot the sponsorship with CART and with Rahal. Some of the things that Gigante has done, they've always been prideful in marketing strategies. They invited or made raffles at the stores which added more than 100,000 customers. That's a plus that Gigante and Office Depot are offering to the customers.
I think in this competitive world, we need to offer something else. I think CART racing has helped us a lot to promote some of the things we do at the stores. So I am very happy. Gigante is happy. Office Depot is very happy with all the promotions, giving away tickets every time we sell computers, things like that. So the promotions are there. We use them. They have been great. We will keep using them for the next years.
Adam Saal: Congratulations, Angel. Thank you very much.
We only have limited time for questions. Before we open up, Bobby, can we expect more announcements in the near future? We like to push the envelope at CART, you know us.
Bobby Rahal: So do we (laughter).
We're working very hard at acquiring the funding to run a second car. Of course, we have a large facility back in Columbus, Ohio. We have many people. We want to keep our team intact. We're working very hard with Shell and all of our other sponsors for continuations. Hopefully we'll have good news in the not too distant future.
Adam Saal: This is great news today. We have time for about three questions.
Q: Angel, you talked about the promotion you've done so far this year. I've heard different figures as to the number of guests you will have here at this race. I wondered if you could give me a rough estimate of the guests that you'll have at this race. Can we expect to see even more aggressive promotion around the California, Laguna Seca, Fontana races next year and in the years ahead?
Angel Alverde: Regarding the number of people, when Angel Alverde mentioned the promotions we are doing, we have done in Monterrey and here, I don't know exactly what the figures will be. 30,000 each day we raffle, 30,000 tickets we raffled at Gigante for this promotion in Mexico City.
Regarding other promotions in California, Gigante is entering the market. It's a tough market to enter. But we are very, very enthusiastic about it because there is a lot of potential. There's a Hispanic market that Gigante can cater to very well.
Yes, we will try to do something in Fontana, we would like to do something in Long Beach, continue doing those promotions in conjunction with Office Depot, which is our partner.
We have all the joint ventures in Grupo Gigante. We will try to involve the other partners that we have so we can have more of a crowd, more involvement from all of them.
Q: This will give you quite a bit of exposure, not only in southern California, but other parts of the United States. Is this an indication perhaps that Gigante is interested in expanding further into the United States, maybe a little payback to Wal-Mart?
Angel Losada: Well, we would love to do that, extend in the United States. But we are very dedicated now to California. I think it a great market for us. There is a lot of opportunity. 34% of the population in California is Hispanic. We need to cater to those people there. We do have a potential, a niche of a market that we can cater to. We can approach those customers there.
To go to other parts of the United States, of course, there is other parts that are very interesting. At this time I would say no. We need to stay here in Mexico also and continue to compete with the small guy, Wal-Mart.
Adam Saal: Perfect way to end this press conference. Thank you very much, congratulations.