Franchise Board Meeting Produces Several Key Decisions for 2003 and Beyond
©2002 SpeedCenter Publishing

A new short oval aerodynamic package test is to be held September 23 at The Milwaukee Mile

INDIANAPOLIS (September 4, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (CART) recently held its third quarter meeting of its Franchise Board and several key decisions were made that will help guide the series into 2003 and beyond.

"We had a very productive Franchise Board meeting at CART Headquarters in Indianapolis," said CART Vice President of Racing Operations John Lopes, after the meeting. "One item that was very clear was that we are very optimistic that we will meet our minimum field requirements with 18-20 cars next season. There was a lot of discussion on a variety of topics, and we are pleased with the progress of our meetings. We want to thank the board for continuing to help set a clear path for CART's future as we look toward 2003."

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the meeting was that the Franchise Board was briefed on the test for the new short oval aerodynamic package to be held September 23 at The Milwaukee Mile. The new package will revert to the use of road course wings on short ovals, in an effort to return side-by-side racing to the series on the one-mile "bullrings." Engine manifold pressure (boost) will be adjusted to simulate the 2003-04 engine rules, which will call for a maximum of 700 horsepower, turbocharged Cosworth engines.

The current Ford-Cosworth-powered teams of Herdez Competition, Player's/Forsythe Racing, and Team Rahal will conduct the test, which will consist of a morning session to set-up the cars, and an afternoon session to test running in traffic. Although the on-track testing will be done by the three aforementioned teams, all teams have been invited to attend the test. This test will be open to media and fan activities are also being planned and will be announced in the coming days.

Additionally, the Franchise Board was briefed by management on engine endurance testing during the off-season, which will assist Cosworth in its efforts to provide teams with engines that will last 800-1,200 miles between rebuilds. These 1,200-mile tests will take place on a combination of road, street, and oval circuits, and it is expected that current CART Toyota Atlantic Championship drivers will drive the cars during the sessions.

Also, the format for testing during the off-season between 2002 and 2003 was discussed, with road/street course testing likely slated for Sebring International Raceway in Central Fla., and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. The Franchise Board also discussed in-season testing as well as continuing efforts to bring more American drivers into Champ Car racing.

In addition, the Franchise Board approved rule changes for the 2003 and '04 seasons. The rule allowing the use of traction control has been rescinded for 2003-04, and the ability of Cosworth track support engineers to simulate traction control was also eliminated. Likewise, the fuel enrichment control switch has also been eliminated in a further effort to eliminate fuel economy runs.

The one-engine rule that is currently in place has also been rescinded beginning in 2003, as the expected Cosworth engine life could stretch from two to two-and-a-half events. The hours for CART Technical Inspection will also change in 2003, with Tech opening at 1:00 p.m. on Thursdays of race weekends as opposed to 8:00 a.m., in an effort to eliminate an additional day of travel.

The cost of updating current Lola and Reynard chassis was also addressed, with the Lola update kit being set at cost of $110,000 to each team while a Reynard kit will cost $100,000 per team. The Franchise Board also reviewed in detail the specifics of the Cosworth engine program for 2003 and '04, as well as the recently-announced 2003 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, in addition to several other topics.

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