IRL: Transcript of 'State of the Series' address part II

Part II: KING: Brian Barnhart is vice president of operations. Ken Ungar is vice president of business affairs and both of them are here to answer questions. We want to know before we take questions, we're transcribing this press conference, so...

Part II:

KING: Brian Barnhart is vice president of operations. Ken Ungar is vice president of business affairs and both of them are here to answer questions. We want to know before we take questions, we're transcribing this press conference, so it is very important to not simply yell out a question or start talking until we get a microphone in front of you so the transcriptionist can get the entire question. Let's start right here. If you have a question, hold your hand up.

Q.: Ken, this is for you. The folks that you have had as series' sponsors have all gone away. What is your progress on the next potential series' sponsors for full-time naming rights?

UNGAR: Sponsorship is a reality in sport no matter which sport. Auto racing, as each one in this room knows, is particularly dependent on corporate America recognizing the value of our sport and joining with us in our endeavor. We're extremely happy about Chevrolet, Reebok, Purex, Worldcom, Firestone, a number of companies, blue chip companies, that recognize the value of auto racing in the Indy Racing League in particular. Reaching a title sponsor for the series, that is something that is an ongoing search. We have spoken to several companies rather seriously. Our goal is to find the right fit, to find a company that believes in our sport, a company that we can help promote their brand so that it is a mutually beneficial arrangement. We're not in a particular rush because we want to find the right fit. So while serious discussions are ongoing, we really don't expect something to come to fruition before 2003.

Q.: What is your take, Brian, on the average number of cars we'll see at each race?

BARNHART: I think we'll -- I would assume we're probably going to be in the 26 or 27 range in the car count most everywhere we run, which is a good number to run. Obviously we're restricted more than anything else on available pit space like at Richmond and other shorter tracks. We'll not fudge in the interest of safety. And that dictates the number of cars that we can start and, believe me, as I think Gil will find out when he gets there, and Buzz can probably attest, 26 cars at Richmond will be probably very busy.

Q.: With new engine specs and deadlines have you approached other manufacturers? Can we expect more than three?

BARNHART: At this point in time we have had some discussion, but nothing to in-depth. Obviously, it is getting late in the year for that. Obviously, in the first of February I think any manufacturer who wants to join and compete on this particular level will have had to previously been working on a program, and at this point in time we don't have any indications that can happen. But, like I say, if they are doing something on their own and notify us by April we could have more.

Q.: These new chassis regulations, are these cars dedicated to oval race cars or can they be adaptable to road or street circuits?

BARNHART: All we do is oval track race. We make rules based on oval track racing so they are designed to be as safe as possible for oval track race and that is what the specs are for.

Q.: No room to maneuver?

BARNHART: We don't have any desire to make them -- our rules are we are an American-based oval track series. All we do is oval track race. Our rules are built for our cars to oval track race.

Q.: Have you had any discussions with engine manufacturers, with chassis manufacturers for next year?

BARNHART: We have had more serious discussions with chassis people than engine makers. At this point in time they are getting ready to make an announcement, but we can look at probably one or two chassis manufacturers joining in 2003.

Q.: Can they join in 2003 season?

BARNHART: Yes, they have to notify by April 1 as well.

Q.: Brian, you have got chassis specs finalized for looks like '03 to '05. Do you feel pretty good about your ability to kind of close some of the loopholes that maybe were there initially? Do you feel like you have done enough to prevent costs from getting out of hand?

BARNHART: I think we have, Curt. I mean, you are balancing cost controls, your ability to enforce rules. And if you look at our competition on the racetrack, both Dallara and G Force have great competition on the track. We have both cars competitive from a speed aspect of it. We are controlling the costs to the competitors in each aspect of it we can. We have got to weigh the ability to have some technological advancement to keep manufacturers interested in what you are doing, but also by controlling the cost to the competitors involved. And I think we have been proactive in that approach, and as we move to the '03 through the '05 formula I think we're going to continue our philosophy of equal playing field on-track and controlling cost to the competitors.

Q.: Brian, what about scheduling? Is there any thought about extending the schedule maybe to other tracks across country?

BARNHART: I think at this point in time I think we're probably very happy with the number that we have. Obviously expanding to 15 races this year as Ken mentioned, the California Speedway here in Southern California market, second largest market in the country, going to the Michigan racetrack and expanding our Midwest routes and going to Nazareth as well. We had six successful debuts in 2001, if people remember that. We went to Homestead, Richmond, Kansas, Chicago, St Louis and Nashville for the first time in 2001 and had very successful debuts there adding the three tracks that I previously mentioned there. I think we're getting a number we're very comfortable with. I would think if there is any growth in the future it will be very moderate growth. 15 to 17 is a good number for us to stay at and focus on. We need to work very hard with our Promoters and if we can fill the grandstands 15 or 16 or 17 times a year we're going to be very successful.

KING: Any other questions?

Q.: I am the manufacturer of gearboxes, American, local. And I would like to know if there will be an opportunity for us to compete with -- was it a monopoly? I think XTRAC is here right now and that we cannot be because of cost, so where we have an opportunity to be able to offer our products?

BARNHART: We have chosen a contract with XTRAC who has been our gearbox supplier for 2001 and 2002, and we have renewed an agreement with them for 2003, 2004 and 2005 as supplier for gear boxes for the new generation of cars.

Q.: Thank you.

KING: Other questions? Anyone else?

BARNHART: I will add on the gear box front, XTRAC is a very good partner for us and will introduce a gearbox for 2003, 2004 and 2005 and improve the drivetrain.

KING: Further questions? Ken, Brian, do you have a closing statement or anything you would like to say before we say good by?

UNGAR: Sure. It is 72 degrees outside, it is a gorgeous sunny day. Hoping for another great Indy Racing League season, but I want to thank everyone in this room for everything they do for Indy Racing as a sport. We're going to have fun this year. It is going to be our most successful year yet, and I want to thank you for all of your support.

BARNHART: I can echo Ken's sentiment as well. Appreciate your support here this weekend and looking forward to seeing you out there in the 2002 season. Thank you.

Part I


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Brian Barnhart
Teams HART