Chris Pook Q&A

Having raced in Britain for the past two seasons on Rockingham's oval, CART President Chris Pook negotiated for the Champ Car World Series to return to Brands Hatch for the first time in 25 years, a move that has created much anticipation from British motorsport fans. The founder of the Long Beach Grand Prix, Pook is a great proponent of bringing racing to the people and he was on-hand to witness Darren Manning run in his Walker Racing Reynard in the middle of Hyde Park in central London. James Attwood spoke to him

Chris Pook Q&A

Well, if we'd had our way we'd probably have run a race around Hyde Park Corner! But this is an interesting setting today, and it's certainly what we're all about. But Brands Hatch is so close to London that it feels like we are bringing Champ Car racing here, so we really want to deliver. That's what we're about and folks that come out at the weekend will be able to see that. The autographs and fan forums and all the things that we do in the States, we're going to do here.

It would be unbelievable to find a circuit here, but we're very happy with Brands and the whole weekend is going to be a lot of fun. And Brands is only a stones throw from London, so it's very accessible for lots of people.

It's going to be an incredible sight, and I think the racing will be outstanding. It's a challenging circuit. Even though it's only 1.2-miles, the fact that they're going to be running 28-30s laps means it's going to be pretty breathtaking. The cars will have an arrival speed into Paddock of around 175mph and an exit speed of 150mph. That's going to sort the men from the boys.

I think it will attract more interest, I really do. That's why we chose Brands. Our guys are referring to Brands as a 'roval', a road oval, because for us it's going to be a unique combination of an oval and a road course. I think it'll be a very interesting spectacle for the British public and I think that they'll be able to relate to it, and that's the important thing - that they relate to the product that's on the racetrack. If they relate to it, they understand it, and then they'll enjoy it more and we can build from there.

Well, the pits at Brands are, let's say, a little historic for us, and we don't want all our guys arriving at the same time. So we've said that they must do two green flag pit-stops, which should spread out when everybody pits. If they come in at any time when the race is under yellow, they can only have two men over the wall, so we've taken away a lot of the opportunity for all the teams to pit at the same time under yellow. They can refuel under the yellow with two guys relatively easily, but if they try to change wheels they're going to be at a huge penalty. It's going to be a three-stop race, and with two mandatory green flag pit-stops I would say to you that there would probably be some fuelling done under a yellow, but I doubt if they'll be any tyre changing, because it will be too costly. So strategy and technique will play a huge role and he who thinks it through the most is going to win.

It's very important to respond to the public. We must not lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, we are in the entertainment business and we need to entertain our customers. Our drivers and our teams need to remember that, and they need to be part of the equation when it comes to dealing with our public, and be accessible. I think that at Brands one of the things that you're going to see is the tremendous accessibility of our teams and our drivers compared to other series, which I think is a very positive thing.

We've got a lot of people talking to us that want us to race at their facility, and we're going to have a lot of meetings about this over the next ten days. We're obviously very honoured that they want to talk to us about it, but we need to work through the process very carefully, and certainly we need to talk to our friends at Formula 1 to make sure that we're not confusing the issue with them, and that we're working as a team and not getting in their way. At the end of the day, we in open wheel racing have got to work together and make sure that we're co-operating and that the public understand where we're both coming from.

I wouldn't say we're necessarily going to have three races next year, but I would say to you that probably we'll be looking at three going into 2005. We want to do three in a row across three weekends, because that makes it more efficient for us on our travel schedule.

Exciting, accessible motor racing.

Manning makes pit-stop in Hyde Park

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