CART has a plan. When CART's 2001 season ended, its organization was in shambles and racing analysts from all corners were predicting its imminent downfall. Over the winter, CART made the bold step that was required for its survival and called on...
CART has a plan. When CART's 2001 season ended, its organization was in shambles and racing analysts from all corners were predicting its imminent downfall. Over the winter, CART made the bold step that was required for its survival and called on the man they needed: Christopher Pook.
Now the next step has been made. CART today announced that they would step up their involvement with the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar and become co-promoter with race operator IMG. This move puts the proven promotional skills Mr. Pook brings to CART to full use in the presentation of one of CART's signature events.
CART has already announced an arrangement to co-promote the new Denver street race and has similar plans for the proposed temporary-circuit race in St. Petersburg, Florida, but this is the sanctioning body's first such partnership to promote an existing event. Mr. Pook also predicted that there would be several more announcements over the coming weeks regarding similar arrangements with other events on the CART schedule.
At the time of Mr. Pook's hiring, many reports had the promoters of CART races, including IMG, so upset that they were ready to drop CART events. The increase in sanctioning fees that CART had demanded was one sore point, the naming of Mr. Pook's previous employer, Dover Downs Entertainment, as Preferred Promoter for new events was another.
IMG's Bud Stanner, President of the Marconi Grand Prix, expressed his happiness with the changes: "When Chris Pook and CART approached us with the thought of taking an active role in our event, we gladly agreed. Today, Chris is the CEO of CART, but he continues to be one of the best event promoters in the business based on his incredible success with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. His event experience and the resources that CART provides will only make a strong event stronger."
Sigma Motorsports' CART driver, fan favorite Max Papis, their Toyota Atlantic Championship driver, David Wieringa, and DSTP Racing's Atlantic series driver, Joey Hand, were present for today's announcement at Cleveland Mayor Jane L. Campbell's office. They were unanimous in their excitement over returning to the popular temporary-circuit race at the Burke Lakefront Airport. Mr. Papis, a five-time competitor at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland, also commented on the competition rules changes that have occurred since Mr. Pook joined CART in December.
"I have been very impressed with some of the changes I have seen from CART over the last month and this new relationship with Cleveland should make a great event even better," Papis said.
Mr. Wieringa and Mr. Hand, both Cleveland-area residents who will compete in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series support race, expressed their pleasure with the upgrades to their "home" race.
The Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar will be shown on live on CBS (1:30 P.M. EST) for the first time in 2002, an announcement that added to the excitement of today's presentation. The race, in its twenty-first running in 2002, was CART's original temporary race circuit event and is still one of its most popular with drivers and fans. Mayor Campbell stressed the importance of the race weekend to Cleveland, remarking that the event provides a $28 million boost to the local economy each year, making it the city's largest annual event.