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Uncensored CART Commentary
by Ed Donath

Earwitness News

Editor’s Note:
“What did CART CEO Chris Pook and F-1 impresario Bernie Eccelstone discuss during their recent meeting at CART’s Rockingham weekend in the UK? What ramifications will the talks between the two Brits have on the future of our beloved speed sport?” Inquiring Champ Car minds want to know.

So, as you might expect, Deep Throttle planted an operative just outside the door of the hotel room where this unprecedented open-wheel summit occurred. Through the use of sophisticated eavesdropping equipment—our man Ed Donath was cleverly disguised as a room service waiter carrying a thick-stemmed water goblet—our investigation yielded the following transcript from part of the Pook/Eccelstone meeting:

Ecclestone: “Oh come now, Christopher. Certainly you can’t be serious in saying that our series have a great deal in common—aside from several of your graduates who have been fortunate enough to escape ‘cross the pond to the world of genuine high-tech racing.”

Pook: “It’s really not all that preposterous, Bernard. Your signature event is a street race, your runaway champion achieved his accolade in virtual mid-season and he has done so, as usual, with nary a pass for position. How much more F-1 could CART’s 2002 racing season possibly be? Granted, primo equipment is responsible in great measure for your Shoe’s success. But our Shorty’s victory parades accrue, in large part, to the fact that narrow, bumpy downtown venues afford very few overtaking opportunities.”

Ecclestone: “True, Christopher, the tradition of Monaco not only lives on but continues to be a powerful European drawing card despite its ghastly expensiveness. Meanwhile, the popularity of our current venue in the States seems already to be waning. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there is absolutely no glamour whatsoever in such a blue-collar bastion of Middle America.

“Furthermore, the boorish owner of the facility in Indianapolis is quite persistent in his efforts not only to steal the limelight but also the sophistication from Formula One. Certainly, of a mere handful of potential glamour venues in the US, your streets of Long Beach are quite desirable.”

Pook: “So tell me, Bernard, is it the link with the homeland provided by the good ship Queen Mary berthed in her harbor? Or is it the Hollywood glitterati that makes Long Beach so glamorous and attractive to European jet-setters and wannabe’s?”

Ecclestone: “Actually, it is both of those factors in synergy with the overall logistics, travel and media access, the fair climate, panoramic view and proximity to many of America’s choice demographic markets. And, frankly Christopher, you are to be roundly complimented for doing a bloody good job in your role as promoter.”

Pook: “How unlike you, Bernard, to be so complimentary. I’m truly honored. Yes, Long Beach is almost as steeped in tradition and glamour as Monte Carlo. And it has great staying power, as well. Do I sense that you long to return someday?”

Ecclestone: “Very perceptive! But it would only work for us if promotion and PR puts a proper spin on the status of our series versus yours. You know, Christopher, we in Formula One see your series more and more as a primary feeder to ours.”

Pook: “That reminds me, Bernard, Nigel Mansell asked that I pass along his regards.”

Ecclestone:: “Seriously, Christopher…why should we continue signing wet-behind-the-ears youngsters when we can cherry pick from seasoned CART veterans? And why should you have to worry about marketing your present low-tech ladder series when you can choose from the ranks of well-trained internationals cultivated in our F3000 affiliates?”

Pook: “But this all seems to help you more than it does us, Bernard.”

Ecclestone: “Need I remind you of your economic uncertainties and tenuous position with engine manufacturers and sponsors?

“What if I confided in you that I think so little of your petty tyrant chief competitor that I plan to be conspicuous by my absence during US Grand Prix weekend? What if I tell you I have it on good authority that Toyota and Honda plan to stick with oval racing only long enough for each to achieve an Indianapolis 500 victory?”

Pook: “Crossover sponsors, new engine manufacturers, top-notch ride-buying rookie drivers plus a powerful ally against the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his cadre of CART abandoners. It certainly sounds tempting! Do you think we might co-promote what the Yanks call a double-header some weekend…perhaps at Montreal, if not Monte Carlo or Long Beach?”

Ecclestone: “Do you hear that scratching at the door Christopher? Ring up hotel security—immediately…”

Copyright © 2002 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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