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Uncensored CΛRT Commentary
by Ed Donath

…like you stole it!
6/25/03

ATHENS, NY—“For me, it was like I stole a car and I had a bunch of policemen running after me,” quipped Patrick Carpentier after his nerve wracking wire-to-wire victory at Laguna Seca. “I was looking in the mirrors and these guys were really, really close.”

Contrast Carpentier’s sentiments—those of a professional racing business hustler—with some of the namby-pambies who work for the company that sanctions the comic-affable Champ Car pilot from Quebec:

"We just need the economy and corporations to get back to spending at levels they were previously," CΛRT’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Carter whines. Does Tommy the Pencil genuinely believe that this is the primary reason why his company’s cash reserves are being gobbled-up faster than chunks of horsemeat in a junkyard dog’s bowl?

Meanwhile, Carter’s boss Chris Pook continues to make it sound as though, once CΛRT finally re-privatizes, all of its troubles will vanish like bubbles. Like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, Grandpa Chris has been sticking to the lame story that blames negative press/doom-and-gloom on the SEC-mandated nuisance that requires publicly owned companies to report their ongoing financial conditions—warts and all.

Craig Pollock, rumored to be the ForMoola One impresario’s choice to run Champ Cars—if and when Bernie the Boss ever actually takes it over—is a tad bit closer to reality with his recent statement that “CΛRT, in its current form, is a confusing series.”

The fix, Pollock believes, is to “…race only on street and road circuits and change the name to the American Grand Prix Series to help it gain popularity in the United States.” Sounds like CP has attended one too many press breakfasts at which my old slicker‘n-STP Indycentric buddy Andy Granatelli was the guest speaker.

Furthermore, Craig Pollock goes into doublespeak overdrive when he says in one breath that CΛRT should stop trying to compete with the rival Indy Car series while, in the very next breath, he concludes: "It's an absolute fact that we've got two series fighting for the same sponsors. We need to realize that Tony [George] has got his series and we've got to build our own brand and our own future.”

Aside from the decreasing “high TV visibility” that slapping one’s logo on an f-inheritor car affords a sponsor during the month of May, what other unique benefits actually accrue to regular IRL benefactors versus those of participants in the Champ Car World Series?

In retrospect, it would probably have been more cost effective to give big sponsors big breaks in lieu of doling out the kind of subsidies that free-spending team owners are now receiving.

Doing so in conjunction with the well-executed plan to reduce operating costs in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford—a move that has certainly succeeded at making the price of CΛRT participation extremely competitive with the IRL’s—might actually have prevented a desertion or two.

In addition, as it is with the series presenter and its power source, a few influential key crossover sponsors could truly have owned the series on the cheap. Like Ford and Bridgestone, they too could have been promoting themselves and the series in the bargain.

Perhaps associate sponsorships at US venues would have been enough of a lure for several on-the-fence American companies who somehow believe that the all-ovals series delivers a more “targeted” demographic than CΛRT’s shotgun internationalism affords on a week-to-week basis.

Patrick Carpentier’s rearview mirrors reality check should be a lesson to all businesspeople, especially those in the sponsorship/revenue-challenged racing industry. We all need to drive our companies’ cars like we’ve stolen them—even when we’re out in front with a marginal lead—to prevent competitors from catching and devouring us.

Copyright © 2003 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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