The Callahan Report: It's Official....Fed Ex To Sponsor CART
12 December 1997After months of rumors and speculation, Federal Express officially announced its sponsorship of the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series. Officials stated that the new relationship is a multi-year deal. The series will be known as the Fed Ex Championship Series.
CART drivers Michael Andretti and Richie Hearn were on hand for the announcement. Andretti is the winningest active driver in the series while Hearn began racing in the series last season.
David Shoenfeld, FedEx vice president of marketing said, "The FedEx Championship Series represents an excellent opportunity to showcase the FedEx brand to a unique segment of the market. It's a natural fit. Both organizations rely on high-performance teamwork and leading-edge technology to beat the competition."
The series has been sponsored by Pittsburgh Paint and Glass (PPG) since 1981. Andrew Craig, CART president and CEO commented, "We've had a wonderful relationship with PPG for the last 18 years, but FedEx's marketing needs were far more compatible with our series objectives." He continued, "PPG will remain involved, addressing the needs of their industrial clients."
PPG will still be putting up the million dollar season ending prize money. Fed Ex will become the official transportation supplier for the series. The transportation duties include shipment of cars and equipment to races outside the continental United States.
PPG hinted and the conclusion of the 1996 season that CART needed to find a new sponsor for the series.
The Fed Ex sponsorship package is innovative. Craig stated, "Previously, a sponsor would make a deal like this and then have to approach each track individually. Sometimes, it (race signage) would be available by that time, and sometimes it wouldn't. What we've done is to gather that all up in a centralized spot and provide one-stop shopping for the sponsor."
Craig, and Englishman, stated that the series is certainly the national championship for open wheel racing. It is not clear which nation Craig was referring to. The CART series runs in five countries on four continents.
The Brittish native continued, "We want to have the best of the best, wherever they come from. Talent runs to the top. Of course we want a strong core of American talent in our series, but we are an open series. That is the American way."
Terry Callahan The Auto Channel