Cart Media Conference Transcript Twin Ring Motegi April 26, 2002 An Interview with Christopher R. Pook NOTE: Transcript joined in progress and begins on the topic of the importance of the Japanese market for CART. Chris Pook: From a ...
Cart Media Conference Transcript
Twin Ring Motegi
April 26, 2002
An Interview with Christopher R. Pook
NOTE: Transcript joined in progress and begins on the topic of the importance of the Japanese market for CART.
Chris Pook: From a business model, we are committed to the Pacific Rim market and indeed committed to Japan.
I would like to thank all of you here in the media in Japan, and those of you who come from other parts of the world, but I do want to particularly thank the Japanese media for the support they've given to this event. The promoter tells me his sales are ahead of previous years, and that's thanks to you and the good coverage that you give to the CART FedEx Championship.
I believe that concludes my formal comments. If you have any questions, I'll be delighted to take them as you see fit. That's, of course, with the exception of our American journalists (laughter).
Q: So now we hear officially that Honda is withdrawing from this event for next year. As you have just mentioned, the championship has gained more popularity than ever in Japan. What do you think of that? What is your comment on that?
Chris Pook: Well, I can't comment on Honda. It's not appropriate for me to comment on Honda, particularly since we are in Japan, and Honda is a Japanese company. I believe it's more appropriate for Honda to make the comments in the area of the question you're asking.
I do want to reiterate to you, though, what I said a little earlier. That is, Japan is a very important market to us. We would very much like to be back here at Twin Ring Motegi. That is our goal - that is our desire. I think we've worked over the years, the CART FedEx Championship, with the management here to build this event. If ticket sales are bigger this year, it must have been from doing something right, I would assume. Either one or both parties have done something correct.
Notwithstanding those remarks, I would refer you to my previous statements concerning the importance of the Pacific Rim markets, and indeed the importance of the Japanese market to us as a marketing organization for the FedEx Championship.
Q: So now that you consider Japan to be a very important market for the CART FedEx Championship, if Motegi cannot continue this event, do you have an option of holding this event on a road course circuit?
Chris Pook: Whatever it takes.
Q: There's been a rumor going on that perhaps here at Motegi, the representatives of the IRL parties are here this weekend. For current status, could you tell us about the CART relationship with IRL?
Chris Pook: The first thing I just want to reiterate and emphasize is the answer to the last question, our preference is to be here at Twin Ring Motegi.
In answering with regard to your question about the IRL people being here, as an old promoter, I trust they bought a ticket to come in (laughter).
Q: So back to the question, is there a possibility of CART rejoining with IRL? As far as CART is concerned, Championship Auto Racing Teams consists of a group of teams. How do the teams actually feel about this current status and the relationship with IRL?
Chris Pook: I don't know. I'd like to answer your question, but I don't know how they feel. I do know how they feel towards the CART FedEx Championship, and that is they are dedicated and they're passionate about it, and they believe in the championship, because it is a good championship. It allows them to excel and the drivers to show their talents, the teams to show their ability, and the manufacturers to truly show their engineering qualities in their engines.
Q: Have you actually had discussions with IRL representatives regarding the future of the two championships?
Chris Pook: No, we have not. But we have said openly in the media that we're quite open to any discussions. If they wish to sit down and chat with us, we'll be delighted to chat with them. We're not closed to those discussions or any suggestions they might have. In the meantime, we need to continue and operate our championship.
And we wish to grow this championship to the next level and open this championship up to any manufacturer that wishes to come and participate. I hope I answered your question.
Q: There have been very strong rumors here this weekend that in addition to Honda's already announced decision to withdraw from CART at the end of this season, they've made a decision to enter the IRL series in the future, whether it's next year or 2004. I've been following the story quite closely. We posted a story on autosport.com today in regard to this. I wonder if you have any comment that you can make if Honda made any announcements to you or clarifications? Any further comment you can make?
Chris Pook: No, it's not correct for me to make comments in that area. We are in Japan. Honda is a Japanese company. It would not be appropriate for us to make any comments here while we are a guest in this country.
Q: You just mentioned if the IRL people wanted to chat with you, you're very open to sit down at any time for any discussion. Tony George is here this weekend. Have you talked to him, any chance of talking to him this weekend?
Chris Pook: I haven't talked to him. I don't know what the chances of talking to him are. But if he wants to talk to me, I'm delighted to say "Good day" to him.
Q: You said you were very open to any manufacturer coming into the championship. As far as engines are concerned, are there any Japanese manufacturers or any other manufacturers, any updates on manufacturers coming in?
Chris Pook: I think you've been following the stories by your colleagues in the American media, probably telling you which of the manufacturers we're talking to. Again, these are business discussions that are ongoing. It is not correct on my part to discuss with you, with all due respect to the media, these conversations that go on with these major automobile manufacturers in various parts of the world.
Q: Do you expect to be here next year? Can you tell us anything on a different subject about the owners' meeting last night? Was anything accomplished? Was there any significant development?
Chris Pook: At 61 years old, I expect to be here every day. Hopefully I'll be around next year. Does that answer your question?
Q: Does CART expect to be here?
Chris Pook: Sure, absolutely. You can never expect things. I wouldn't be so arrogant to say we expect to be here. I would say to you that we would like to be here, and it is our hope to be here. But nothing in life is certain, except death and taxes.
I think the proof is always in the pudding. If we continue to have good racing here at Twin Ring Motegi, you and your colleagues, both the American media and the Japanese media, will give their viewpoint. The customers in the grandstands will give their viewpoint. I would assume if they like the product, we'll be invited back. If they don't like the product, we won't be. That's the way business in the world works.
As for the board meeting question, I can tell you it was a very positive meeting. We continue to move forward with consensus as a group. We are discussing a variety of issues that I think should remain within the board meeting.
ADAM SAAL: Specifically an announcement that John Lopes, the senior vice president of operations, asked us to prepare is approved testing regulations for next year. We'll issue those in the pit notes later. But to further cost containment, it limits to eight days per team, six of which must be conducted at CART open tests.
In the interest of time, I'll ask you to look in the pit notes later, but, again, the main objective is to reduce the costs of competition in CART Champ Car racing.
Chris Pook: Not at the risk, however, of taking away the high level and standard of competition that exists in this series.
Q: As far as engine manufacturers are concerned, Toyota has informed the teams that they want to start taking orders by June. So far they haven't had a response from any teams yet. Will CART be giving instructions to the teams, for instance, if they want a certain manufacturer's engine, to give the information as soon as possible?
Chris Pook: Well, motor racing is a game of strategies and pushing the envelope as far as possible. So, just like drivers on the racetrack are always seeking to gain an advantage, the teams are always being very careful or cagey to see if they can get an advantage. So, it is now April, and they have till June. Why would they want to show their hands in April when they don't have to until June?
Adam Saal: Thank you very much. We also want to thank all of the international media as well as our gracious hosts in Japan for allowing us to take some time.
Chris Pook: I'd also like to thank the interpreter for her work here today. Thank you very much.