CART's Engine Manufacturers Discuss Proposed Engine Formula
- Marc Sproule
CART's four engine manufacturers agree on one thing: There shouldn't be
any more than 20 Champ Car races in a season.
"We feel that 20 is about where we would like to be," said Jim Aust,
Toyota's motorsports director. "Perhaps one more, depending on where it
would be. But from the standpoint of overall costs, obviously, it's a very
costly program and more races mean more money. We would like to see it
stabilize somewhere in and around where it is now."
Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance and Development said
Honda also believes 20 is the right number. "I would say that 20 is
basically at the limitation of budget and structure that Honda has in
place. I would say that Honda would be in favor of more races in the right
markets, but keeping the number around 20."
Mercedes-Benz's motorsports boss Norbert Haug emphasized that higher
quality races and better overall marketing by CART are more important than
the sheer volume of races. "I think the most important point is having the
right races in the right places with better marketing," he said. "Better
15 races marketed in a perfect way with full grandstands than what we have
right now with 14 or 15 good ones, but five that are only so-so."
Dan Davis, Ford's director of Special Vehicle Operations, reiterated
Haug's point. "I couldn't agree more. This is a cost-benefit ratio. You've
got a cost on one side and a benefit on the other. You can't just add
costs and get no benefits."
The manufacturers' representatives added they were interested in CART
possibly adding races in the next few years on new oval tracks being built
in England and Germany -- but not without careful thought and planning.
"Toyota is a very global company," Toyota's Aust noted, "so obviously from
Toyota's perspective the exposure in those two countries would benefit
Toyota. But to add those two races just for the sake of adding races,
without taking a real sincere look at that series as it currently exists,
is probably not the answer."
Clarke said the series' domestic growth is more important to Honda than
adding more overseas races. "Honda is a very international company, and we
have business in the U.K. and Europe, so those races would obviously be a
marketing opportunity," he said.
"I don't think Honda is against having races in those markets, but we
would like to see CART focus its efforts and put more emphasis on the
North American market before trying to expand into the international
Mercedes-Benz man Haug agreed.completely with that point. "That is very
much our point of view, as well. I don't think it should become a second
Formula One series. It should be an American racing series with important
races outside America like Australia and Japan. If the Lausitzring [in
Germany] project is on, we would be happy to race there, but it should not
be a world tour.
"I think what CART needs is further improvement in its television
coverage, especially here in the States. That is crucial. The racing is
great, and it should get more interest from the media. The right way to go
is not having more international growth."
Ford's Davis also stressed the need for better marketing from CART: "I'm
in full agreement. The racing on the track is fantastic. It's probably the
best racing in the world, but it's not marketed properly to the point
where we've got the fans overflowing and more media and so forth. That's
the No. 1 priority. Get that straightened out first, then we can talk
about going farther afield."
Source: CART Online