©1999 SpeedCenter Internet Publishing, Inc.
Honululu Feb. 25, 1999 The largest single-day payout in the history of motorsports $10 million, with $5 million going to the winner awaits a select group of FedEx Championship Series drivers who participate in the inaugural Hawaiian Super Prix on Saturday, Nov. 13, on the island of Oahu.
The announcement was made by Hawaii governor Benjamin J. Cayetano; Andrew Craig, chairman and chief executive officer of Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. (NYSE:MPH); and Dick Rutherford, co-founder of the Hawaiian Super Prix.
"The State of Hawaii is very pleased to host this new and exciting race event," Gov. Cayetano stated. "We are grateful for the tax and charity dollars the HSP will generate, and are prepared to provide the red carpet treatment for all the organizers and participants."
The event is not a part of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series schedule but a special, non-points CART-sanctioned bonus race conducted two weeks after the conclusion of the Champ Cars' regular season at California Speedway. The event is open to the top-12 finishers from the FedEx Championship Series season based on PPG Cup points as well as four additional drivers to be selected by the promoter. It will be held at Barbers Point airport, just outside Honolulu, on a 1.8-mile layout designed on the airport tarmac.
"This will be an incredible way to end this millennium," Craig said. "A $5 million winner's purse gets everyone's attention both drivers and fans alike.
"One of the key benefits for us is that an event of this magnitude will raise the level of awareness and presence worldwide for CART and Champ Car racing," Craig added. "It comes at a time when our regular season already has concluded so it will keep us top of mind with the public for that much longer in 1999."
The three-hour event, which will include a 60-minute entertainment-filled intermission, will offer two races. The Champ Car drivers will compete in two 60-minute heats, with accumulated points determining the winner and finishing order. In addition to the $5 million first-place prize, another $5 million will be available to the participants. The driver who wins the pole position will earn $250,000 and other cash prizes will be earned for other categories such as fastest lap. Viewers also will have an opportunity to win prizes, including a $1 million grand prize.
"I would probably pass out if I won this race and $5 million," said 23-year-old Champ Car driver Greg Moore.
Moore, who hails from British Columbia, Canada, has won four times in his 52 FedEx Championship Series starts, most recently the 1998 U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway. He ended up second in the final 1998 Champ Car race at California Speedway.
"That's more money than most people see in their lifetime," said Moore of the $5 million first prize. "As we saw at our final race in 1998 at California (Speedway), $1 million dollars is an incredible amount to win but $5 million it's almost inconceivable. To be able to compete for that kind of money in any sport is unbelievable and to race for it in November in Honolulu shows just how far our sport has come."
For CART, it marks the first time in the organization's 20-year history it will visit the island state. CART and the Hawaiian Super Prix have a three- year agreement.
"We believe the Champ Cars offer the most spectacular and exciting form of motorsports in the world and that is reflected in the major commitment we have made to bring these drivers and teams to Hawaii," Rutherford said. "We expect Hawaiians, as well as fans from throughout the world, to come to see these highly skilled and daring drivers, and the exotic cars they drive, battle for the greatest single-day prize in the history of auto racing."
Television coverage of the event will be available only on a pay-per-view basis, also a first for CART. Details will be announced at a later date.
Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. (NYSE:MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series, which is comprised of 20 races in five countries on four continents in 1999. Drivers such as Michael Andretti, Adrian Fernandez, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Greg Moore, Al Unser, Jr., and Jimmy Vasser race 900-plus horsepower, open-wheel cars at speeds of more than 230 miles per hour on some circuits. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship.
SpeedCenter expects to receive a full report from the press conference.