CHAMPCAR/CART: RuSPORT, Wilson, new sponsor teleconference, part 1

CHAMP CAR TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH CARL RUSSO, JUSTIN WILSON AND CDW CHAIRMAN AND CEO JOHN EDWARDSON ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon, thank you and welcome everyone to today's call. We have a very exciting announcement as we head into the ...


ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon, thank you and welcome everyone to today's call. We have a very exciting announcement as we head into the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. Today I am joined on the call by Mr.Carl Russo. The team owner of RuSPORT. We are also joined by Justin Wilson, a third-year driver in the Champ Car World Series. He will be undertaking his second year at RuSPORT. He finished third in the championship last year. And we are also very pleased to be joined by Mr.John Edwardson who is the chairman and CEO of CDW. Right now it is my pleasure to turn things over to Carl Russo.

CARL RUSSO: Good morning, thanks for joining us; on the East Coast, just barely good afternoon. It's certainly my privilege to be here on this great day. From an announcement standpoint, I won't say much as the news has already hit the wire but just to say the following; that we are proud to have CDW as a partner on the #9 CDW race car driven by Justin Wilson coming forward in 2006.

As many of you know, the first race that we won as RuSPORT, the first race that Justin Wilson won in Champ Car, was the first race that CDW was our primary sponsor. So as far as I'm concerned, this was destined to be, but I won't make more comments than that. I'm going to introduce John Edwardson, who is the chairman and CEO of CDW.

JOHN EDWARDSON: Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be with you or wherever you happen to be. So the first question is probably why is CDW interested, and clearly, we are interested because we think it will be good for CDW to participate in the Champ Car World Series.

We are a distributor and direct marketer of computer technology in the U.S. and Canada. Our revenues are about 6.3 billion a year in the last 12 months. What we do is a perfect fit for what Champ Car is all about. We sell technology. Clearly technology is very important in racing today. I was amazed by how much it is used and how much computers are used in every single facet of racing.

So we think it is a wonderful fit. It will be good for us as an entertainment venue for our customers and we could not have picked a better partner than RuSPORT to partner with and Justin Wilson as our driver. We do like to win. We have got been a winning company for many years and we are on the Fortune 100 best companies to work for in America. We've been given numerous recognitions about being a winner. So clearly what we're all about is helping the team win.

One of the great things is it won't just be the CDW logo on the car. We are having a CDW technology specialist help the RuSPORT team and help Justin with the adaptation of technology. So we'll be a little more involved maybe than other general sponsors would be. With that, I do want to add that we have some partners, Hewlett Packard, HP has partnered; Plantronics, Edge Tech and Targus, will be joining us in the sponsorship. We are all looking forward to the summer racing season. I will be at a number of the races and we will have customers at every single event.

And with that, I want to introduce Justin Wilson. We are thrilled to have him as our driver. In fact, that was one of the key elements of doing this was first finding the right partner, and second the right partner with the right driver, and that's Justin, now your turn.

JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you very much. Obviously I'm very excited about the new season and having CDW on board with the team. It's already been mentioned that it's not just a sponsorship program; it's a partnership. And I think the information and the help that the technology that CDW can bring to the team will help us take the next step and hopefully we can go out there and win this year. The idea is to keep improving and try and be the strongest team out there and make the least mistakes on the track. With that, looking forward to the new season.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much, gentlemen. Congratulations, Mr.Edwardson, thank you and welcome to the Champ Car World Series. We look forward to a great year and many years down the road. As the announcement that many of you saw today read, this is a multi-year deal with RuSPORT, and real quick before we turn it over to the media, a question for Carl, this is your third yearin the Champ Car World Series, last year, first team ever in Champ Car history to be a second-year team with both its drivers in the top five in the final-season standings, and now starting your third year, and to attract a high-profile sponsor such as CDW, tell us a little bit about what that means to your team.

CARL RUSSO: Well, obviously it means a number of things to the team. No. 1, as John echoed earlier about winning, I'll echo it back and say that CDW is the leader in their space. They are the No. 1 in their industry and we think that's important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the brand names that it brings along with us as partners as you heard John mention. So that's No. 1.

No. 2, applying that technology to the team, it already started last year, actually. CDW started working with us from behind the scenes from a technical consulting standpoint. As you know in motorsports, especially in many Champ Car, where you're professing gobs of information and trying to make decisions realtime, they started helping us do a much better job of collating and moving that information around, and we expect that investment to continue. So on those pieces alone, it means an enormous amount. But very clearly, to have a stable industry-leading sponsor to join Justin in our effort, means a whole lot for the forward-looking, not just stability of the team, but the performance basis that we're going to be based on. So I can't give you enough words to tell you how positive we are on this partnership.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations again. We'll go ahead and turn things over to the media.

Q: You obviously put your toe in the water last year and then made this decision to really go after it. Can you tell us, you talked about the perfect fit and utilization of your other brands and components, but can you tell us what the key events or reasons were for you to really make this decision and push forward with this thing?

JOHN EDWARDSON: Clearly what happened in the Toronto market was significant. It was the first event in which we participated. Justin happened to be the winner that day. But the next week, we had a significant increase in the revenues of our Canadian subsidiary as a result of the publicity and reaction, the increased number of phone calls into the company. So that was exactly what we were looking for. What we want to do is more business. We do believe that the customers of our company and the coworkers at our company will have a great deal of interest in racing. It has been one of the things that has been brought up to me numerous times by our co-workers, and they believe that their customers will be very interested in attending the races.

Q: I won't ask you why you chose to sponsor Justin and RuSPORT, definitely a fine driver and a fine gentleman and RuSPORT likewise. What I would like to ask you the question this way: Why as a Canadian-based firm, a Toronto-based firm, did you not elect to sponsor one of several Canadian drivers, such as Andrew Ranger or Michael Valiante, Patrick Carpentier, all of whom are struggling to find sponsors so that they can race against a guy like Justin Wilson?

JOHN EDWARDSON: I think the answer is, you know, we are a U.S.-based company with a Canadian division that is doing very well in Canada. And I think the answer is Carl and Justin got to us first. They found us. (Laughter). They did a great job selling CDW. And we had not been out looking to do this at all. It really came to us and they approached us.

CARL RUSSO: Well, I must amplify, with all of those great names and those up-and-coming drivers as well as some significant and seasoned veterans of the series, I for one -- I do believe that inside of our team, we have the two best drivers in the paddock, and as they continue to learn, I think these are the two drivers that are going to take us to the front. So that would be my answer, but I'm flattered by yours, John.

Q: The standard question that's been asked, to Justin and everybody, what's it going to take to really push and beat Newman Haas, and Sebastien Bourdais this year? What do you see in Justin and RuSPORT that is maybe a little bit different and stronger this year than last? Obviously your second year with the team, you're a little more comfortable with the team, etc., but again, bottom line is, what's it going to take to beat Sebastien this year?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think one of the key parts as you mentioned, is the continuity. It's my second year with RuSPORT, and all of the information, all of the things we learned last year, hopefully we can use that well this year and build from that and be stronger at every race. I think that the team have been working extremely hard all off-season and they have put a lot of effort in. It's now time to put the operation to the test. I think that is the key part, and obviously as we have said a number of times, CDW have also brought some technology to the team, and hopefully we can process all of the information quicker and easier.

CARL RUSSO: In my view, we have given Justin a car to win at every race, so I'm not sure what the issue actually is. (Laughter). All kidding aside, I'll amplify on what Justin said. The cohesiveness of the team, the culture of the team continues to refine and become more purposeful. I'm very, very encouraged in what I've seen in the entire team and in the key leaders amongst the team, and specifically, how they have started to lead the team more and more. With that, to your answer, you've been around motorsports a long, long time...

Q: Gee, thanks.

CARL RUSSO: Well, you're welcome. Not as long as Gordon. But you've been around a long time and you know that these things happen by a million little details, and those details are executed by people who are inside a good culture and have good processes. I think Justin is going to get to the front more and more this year. I think the team is going to put a consistent car underneath him. We struggled at certain types of tracks, and other at types of tracks, we seemed to have a good combination. We'll have address some of those weaknesses and hopefully maintain the strengths. I'm looking for Justin and AJ to get to the front more and more, and if we do that, the championship is wide open.

Q: Justin, when you came to the United States, did you imagine that after two years, you would be on top of the championship car with the top team and a chance to win the title, because you will win the title, right?

CARL RUSSO: Exactly right.

JUSTIN WILSON: Well, I don't know how to answer that. Obviously I'm very pleased to be a part of RuSPORT and to have the opportunity of trying to win the title. I feel really at home here with the team, and I think the whole team gels very nicely together. It's that that gives us the opportunity to go out there and go out there and try and win races. It's a good scenario and I'm very pleased and privileged to be part of it.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Valiante , Sébastien Bourdais , Carl Russo , Andrew Ranger , John Edwards