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Uncensored CΛRT Commentary
by Ed Donath

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ATHENS, NY—Over the years, titles like Board to Tears have been affixed to this renegade scribe’s rants dealing with the utter frustration that the Champ Car community has been forced to endure as a result of CΛRT’s uniquely stupid double-board management system.

As out of place as a separate Franchise Board is within the context of a publicly owned corporation, this same wacky set-up was every bit as cumbersome throughout the twenty-odd racing seasons before public stockholders ever came on the scene.

Throughout the years when the Teams were actually the owners of Championship Auto Racing Teams, little was ever accomplished quickly or efficiently. Many important-issue decisions hung fire for far too long and many were carried over from one racing season to the next—or next, next—as a result of the inability of two boards of directors with often-dissimilar interests to reach one majority conclusion.

CΛRT’s Franchise Board has always been comprised of regular team owners. In addition, at times, there have been as many as four engine suppliers, four chassis constructors and two tire manufacturers in the series simultaneously, not to mention literally dozens of bill-paying sponsors. With that powerful mix of diversified capital interest at play it is not at all difficult to grasp the reason for majority votes being so difficult to achieve.

Another rare-if-ever criticism of the Franchise Board is that, once outside of the boardroom, CΛRT’s team-owning partners revert to being fierce competitors; not only at the track but also in their daily efforts to achieve techno and fiscal superiority over one another.

Perhaps, however, as a byproduct of spec engines and tires plus an influx of less political new team owners and the departure of several of the powerful old boys, a stunning announcement like this one has been made possible:

“The Franchise Board has voted to streamline the decision-making process and provide management with the necessary tools to move forward sufficiently in certain technical areas,” CΛRT President Christopher R. Pook explains in the Champ Car Company’s official 4/16/03 announcement of this radically different operating procedure.

“The historic concession allows series management to develop an engine formula, draft contracts, write rules and foster relationships that may be attractive to new manufacturers, without having to subject the matters to the votes of the Franchise Board,” Pook summed it all up.

Of course, this might be yet another too-little/too-late attempt to make the Champ Car Company function more like a real business than a dysfunctional extended family. Nonetheless, it is the first true sign of structured future planning—as opposed to reactive adaptation to prevailing conditions—that has come out of the Pook administration.

David Clare, added this past December to the CΛRT management team as Chief Operating Officer, is probably the driving force behind this sort of forward thinking and business model-like strategy.

To Newcoo’s credit, he has kept a low profile, making it difficult to quote him (read: blame him) for un-kept promises or controversial statements. And obviously, Clare’s work at the office has freed-up his boss (no, not Mister Ecclestone) to enter any number of half-baked statements onto the public record.

A cautionary note: Mind the careful wording of Pook’s announcement before you take to believing that the days of the double boards are numbered…

“[Providing] management with the necessary tools to move forward sufficiently in certain technical areas…” is the operative phrase that indicates the Franchise Board’s retention of influence over the overall decision-making process of the Champ Car Company. Grandpa Chris was also careful to mention that a tech committee will act as a liaison between management and the Franchise Board.

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

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