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Uncensored CART Commentary
by Ed Donath


A Henny Youngman gag that always gets a rise out of people who rely on parcel delivery companies goes like this:

“Have you heard about the UPS/FedEx merger?
They’re gonna call the new company FedUp!” [rimshot]

Well, perhaps FedEx has become fed up being affiliated with an outfit that can’t seem to deliver anything but bad news. There is a current rumor that predicts the worldwide delivery giant is about to opt out of future Championship Series sponsorship by exercising an escape clause in its contract. Presumably, they would have to cite some malfeasance on the part of CART’s management which, of course, shouldn’t be all that difficult to prove should the case ever end up in court.

However, now is an inopportune moment for abandonment talk to heat up because we’re right in the middle of the annual downtime between an autumn North American CART event and the Surfers Paradise classic. Traditionally, this is that very rare and special moment when FedEx actually makes hay of its Champ Car racing connection.

As I write, copy and video-formatted PR pieces describing the logistically complicated preparation of two FedEx Boeing 747 cargo planes to be laden with precisely enough stuff to stage a successful street race halfway around the world in Australia are being released to the press. As in years past, this interesting story will find its way into traditional media outlets that include CNN, USA Today and hundreds of local newspapers and TV stations plus racing web sites and magazines.

This year’s reprise of the jumbo jet-loading story—always a delight to detail freaks and anal-retentives the world over—has all the earmarks of being broken a bit early by CART PR writers. Perhaps, this is a last-ditch peacemaking gesture toward the series sponsor.

Regardless, the sad truth is that FedEx never officially mentions its tie-in with the Champ Car Company except during those times when the two planes are being prepared for an intercontinental CART junket. CART would certainly be better off if it were teamed-up with an ASAP delivery company that relishes the opportunity for constant cross promotion with a sports entity that—at least on race day—epitomizes speed and efficiency.

An aggressive new ad campaign which, through the use of touchy-feely vignettes and an updated rendition of the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” Cheers theme, not only masterfully personalizes but also makes heroes of common delivery guys in dog poop-colored uniforms that double-park dog poop-colored trucks on already un-navigable city streets. This kind of marketing genius has me believing that UPS is exactly the type of company that CART should court to be its next series sponsor.

That UPS’ dog poop-colored logos are also pasted on a fleet of cargo jets and that the company would probably do anything necessary to one-up rival FedEx in an effort to gain market share is icing on the cake.

While a CART/UPS marriage may never actually be consummated, it would, nonetheless, be wise for the Champ Car Company to emulate Big Brown’s marketing strategy. If, through the creativity of Madison Avenue, non-charismatic delivery workers can tug at peoples’ heartstrings to achieve hero status, how tough could it be to personalize and lionize death-defying super athletes who jockey the planet’s most colorful and seductive vehicles around those same un-navigable city streets?

In comparison, even a dog poop-colored Champ Car makes most other vehicles look like a boxy FedEx step-in van.

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

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