SBJ/August 20 - 26, 2007/This Weeks News

Champ Car sells award sponsorship

The Champ Car World Series has signed Phanos Resorts to sponsor its newly created European Cup, an award that will go to the best-performing team in the series’ two upcoming European events.

Phanos Resorts will sponsor the European
Cup, honoring the top team in the series’
two upcoming events in Europe.

Champ Car visits a pair of sites for the first time in the coming weeks: Belgium on Sunday and Holland on Sept. 2. The series is trying to capitalize on the events the same way it did with its Canadian Triple Crown in July.

The Triple Crown rewarded the best-performing team over three events. Even though the Triple Crown was not sponsored, it provided a model on which Champ Car could sell its European Cup.

The Belgium and Holland events will be Champ Car’s first in Europe since 2003.

Phanos Resorts, in addition to sponsoring the two-race cup, will serve as the host hotel and receive event signage. The winning team will receive a vacation package with the Dutch resort as well. The one-year deal is believed to be worth low six figures.

Bavaria Beer is the title sponsor of the Holland race, while the Belgium race has not secured a title. Audi, Hertz, Pioneer and Gant are among the sponsors.

“Champ Car has decided that we want to be a global series, and this is our first year toward that,” said David Higdon, the series’ executive vice president of strategic development. “F1 owns the world, but there’s a place for Champ Car.”

Fingal, a communications agency based in London, has been hired to help generate prerace publicity. Champ Car also sanctions events in China, Australia and Mexico, in addition to the United States and Canada.

Next month, Champ Car will begin an initiative called “Hands on the Wheel,” which will put many of the series’ top drivers in front of students and other groups to emphasize driver safety. The Champ Car schedule is without a race from Sept. 2 to Oct. 21, and the series will use that time for driver outreach, with the hope that reaching a younger audience will create a new generation of race fans.

Graham Rahal, an 18-year-old driver and son of Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, will help kick off the campaign with a public service announcement that will launch Sunday during the Champ Car broadcast on ESPN and run throughout the season.

Rahal, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and other stars of the circuit are expected to participate with appearances near their residences. Drivers will focus on the dangers of talking and texting on cell phones while driving.

Champ Car partners Bridgestone, Mazda and Sherwin-Williams have committed to sponsor the initiative through point-of-sale materials and other support. Champ Car also hopes to drive traffic to its Web site, champcarworldseries.com, by encouraging young drivers to sign a pledge not to text or talk — unless using a hands-free device — on cell phones. Drivers will be signing pledges as well.

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