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Honda-IRL press conference.


IRL personnel: Tony George (President and CEO, Indy Racing League) and Fred Nation (Vice president of corporate communications and public relations, Indianapolis Motor Speedway).

Honda representative: Robert Clarke (General manager, Honda Performance Development, Inc.)



Press conference:


Fred Nation:
Good afternoon and thank you for attending this news conference. My name is Fred Nation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Racing League. We have an important announcement today about a future partner in the Indy Racing League. We have with us to make this announcement jointly, Tony George, the president and CEO of the Indy Racing League, and Robert Clarke, who is the president, general manager of Honda Performance Development, Incorporated. Robert, would you make your announcement? Thank you.

Robert Clarke:
Thank you very much. Today American Honda announces that we plan to enter the Indy Racing League next season in 2003. (Applause) Thank you.Honda Performance Development has contracted with Ilmor Engineering, Inc., a U.S. company located in Plymouth, Michigan, and both companies will jointly design, develop and produce the Honda Indy V8, the same engine we used in '94 and '95. Honda is extremely pleased and excited to be joining the IRL competition and competing once again in the Indy 500. This is an all-new direction for HPD, and the intent of the program is to transform HPD from a support operation, one of building engines and trackside support, to a true racing engine development company. In effect, Honda has an all-new commitment to American racing. Our technical relationship with Ilmor, Inc. will allow us to develop the all-new Honda V8 in time for the 2003 season, something that would have been impossible under our old structure. Ilmor, Inc. will use their resources in addition to a special project group under the leadership of Steve Miller, who many of you probably know from his old days at Cosworth, and a new separate manufacturing facility to support the project, which in no way will conflict with their current F1 program. Honda considered a variety of options for HPD's future business and selected this direction as it supported American Honda's long-term motorsports needs while at the same time providing for HPD's development to a full engine company. This change means that all U.S. auto racing engine R&D responsibilities will be turned over to HPD. Excuse me, I sat in a hot car before I came in here, and I just broke out.

Tony George:
Should have been here earlier this month, it wasn't nearly as bad.(Laughter)

RC:
Again, Honda is very pleased to join the IRL, the organization, the teams, the drivers and all the other partners. We look forward to a long relationship. The discussions that we had with Tony, with Ken Ungar, Brian Barnhart, all of those involved in the IRL series, have been just wonderful to deal with through all of our discussions and negotiations, which ultimately led to this announcement. Thank you, and we very much look forward to coming here and winning next year. (Laughter and applause)

TG:
That is great. Thank you, Robert. We really appreciate you being here today. It is a pleasure to welcome Honda to the Indy Racing League. Honda joining the Indy Racing League is another big step forward as we anxiously await their entry next year. It's going to be big both on and off the track. On the track, Honda brings our league another premier manufacturer with a brand that is synonymous with quality and competition. Off the track, our marketing and promotions agreement with Honda adds to the resources needed to continue to grow the reputation and build the fan base and the brand of the Indy Racing League. Everything has its time. We've wanted Honda with us since the beginning of the league, and we've watched Honda's performance in other forms of racing. We've tried to be patient. But now is the time for Honda to join with us in building the Indy Racing League into the premier racing series in the world really. So we're looking forward to that opportunity, Robert, and thank you and your associates for joining us and being here today to make this announcement on what is a fabulously warm, sunny day and looking forward to one on Sunday. And 365 days from Sunday, maybe you will be in here in the post-race, really looking back, and we'll all really appreciate the amount of time and effort and due diligence that went into make this announcement. (Applause)

FN:
We also have with us today Brian Barnhart, the vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League; and Ken Ungar, the vice president of business operations for the Indy Racing League, as Robert had noted earlier had been the point men in negotiating and reaching this agreement along with Tony. The floor is open for questions. Ron Green is on that side, and I'm over here.

Q:
Robert, could you tell us what basically changed your mind to come over here? Because I know that when Honda announced they were leaving CART, they basically weren't going to be involved in any American racing series.

RC:
That's true, when we made our announcement in October there at Laguna Seca, we really had no plan, no vision of where we would go beyond that. But the further we looked into it, kind of -- that announcement was -- well, definitely we felt very justified but it was also a very emotional announcement. We had put a lot into that program, and once the emotions kind of settled down and we began to realize the equity that we had in the program and how important for American Honda to have a continuous motorsports program in the U.S., we began to consider other ways that we continue to be involved in North American motorsports. At the same time, we reevaluated HPD. We also had a vision of it being more than just an assembly and a trackside support operation to be a true racing engine development company. And looking at the IRL and looking at what we as HPD could do to develop in that series, we felt it was a perfect match. From that moment on, it became more of a challenge, well, how can we be involved continuously without disrupting our program?And that's led us to the association with Ilmor.

FN:
If you would, please, Robin and others, please state your name and affiliation as you ask your question.

Q:
Robin Miller, ESPN. Hey, Robert, two questions. One, will it just be a one-year deal with Ilmor and you'll have an entirely full-blown Honda program for 2004? And two, will next year's engine be available to CART as well as the IRL teams?

RC:
I'm sorry, I missed -

Q:
You and Ilmor are going to be partners next year. In 2004, will it just be a complete Honda deal without Ilmor on your own?

RC:
I see. No, our arrangement with Ilmor right now is a three-year term.

Q:
Will the engines be available next year in CART?Will you sell engines to CART?

RC:


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