I’m sure most of you have already heard the news about the Atlantic Championship offering a fixed-budget of $495,000 for 2010. In addition to the reduced budget offering they have also come up with a slogan to help separate themselves from the IRL’s Road-to-Indy program. The Atlantic Championship is now unofficially the Road-to-F1.
I decided to hold off on this story for a few days as I wanted to let the dust settle and take everything in before posting. There are still quite a few unanswered questions, but if you look at the big picture this is really a pretty exciting announcement.
The series’ administrators are taking all the right steps to ensure a future for the longest running junior formula series in North American history. They are aware of the current economic situation and have adjusted their budget accordingly. They are in the process of aligning themselves with some of the European junior formula series, thus legitimizing their claim to be a Road-to-F1. In addition to the aforementioned announcements, they are also working with a marketing team; Theory Communication and Design.
Now, before we go any farther, I know that a lot of you are still stuck on the million dollar prize debacle, and rightfully so, but perhaps for the good of our sport we need to look to the future. If you make a prize fund announcement and fail to follow through… it’s going to upset a lot of people. That goes without saying. You have to assume that Ben Johnston (President of the Atlantic Championship) will do everything within his power to make things financially right. The easy thing to do would have been to roll over, claim bankruptcy, and call it an unsuccessful business venture. Ben didn’t do that. He’s working hard along with a small Atlantic Championship staff to try and make things right. The group has a long road ahead but they are determined to keep moving forward regardless of how steep the grade in front of them is.
The biggest issue I have with the whole prize fund controversy is that they didn’t just come out and make a statement similar to mine above. Everybody already knew the situation and simply addressing it publicly might have gone a long ways for them.
What’s done is done. Will their new marketing plan work? Will the series rebound? Or is it just too little, too late? Time will tell. The first Atlantic Championship race is 37 days away.
I’ve received a fair amount of questions from readers about the fixed-budget for 2010. I didn’t have all the answers, so I decided to pass on a few of the main concerns to David Bowes at the Atlantic Championship.
JOWT: Will the $495,000 include crash damage and testing?
DB: The fixed budget includes eight days of testing which will be the same for everyone. It also includes tires, fuel, engine lease, entry fees and “normal” crash damage. We are arranging insurance for “abnormal” damage which should not be an issue. The only cost in addition is travel and accommodation for drivers.
JOWT: How will you match drivers/teams if they sign up through the series?
DB: Drivers will be allocated to teams on a first come first served basis. Teams are allowed to find drivers but the drivers have to go through the Series to sign up and contract for the season. Every driver will pay the same amount to the Series ($495,000). The Series will then contract separately with teams to ensure that every driver gets the same level of service, resource and equipment. No team will be allowed to exceed the resource allocation and neither will they be allowed to fall below it. That way we can ensure parity for all drivers.
I also asked for the cost of a one-off drive in the Atlantic Championship. Unfortunately that figure hasn’t been put in place yet. Stay tuned for more in the coming month. Many questions remain. As always, I welcome your questions and comments.
It will be interesting to see what generates from this new plan.