INDIANAPOLIS - Well-versed in what it takes to win in the major leagues of open-wheel auto racing, former British American Racing team principal Craig Pollock and high-tech industry giant Kevin Kalkhoven have set their sights on the 2003 Champ Car World Series with today's announcement of the formation of PK Racing, a new one-car entry for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.
Pollock and Kalkhoven, along with CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, made the announcement today at a news conference in Indianapolis. They will then conduct a similar announcement in Montreal, the site of the Molson Indy Montreal and the city in which Pollock, the manager of Formula One driver and 1995 CART champion Jacques Villeneuve, has business and community-related interests.
"This has all come together very quickly," Pollock said of the PK Racing operation. "Just prior to Christmas, I got a call from Kevin about looking into the possibility of starting up a team in CART. The timing is perfect, because CART is in the process of reinforcing its organization and priorities, and has done a tremendous job in that regard over the last few months."
The 46-year-old Pollock has hired long-time CART team manager Russell Cameron in that capacity for PK Racing and will tap into his experience in order to fully prepare his team for the February 23 season opener.
"It's a short period of time to put the whole thing together," said Pollock. "The fact that all CART teams will be running with the same engine this season will make the start-up a bit easier for us because it's a level playing field for everyone. The CART series is extremely competitive. If we do our jobs well, we should be able to field a competitive team. But we're going to make sure that we walk before we run."
Pollock said PK Racing has narrowed its selection of a driver to "about three or four candidates," and an announcement will be made shortly. He added that Villeneuve has no involvement in the PK Racing venture, "but he is very supportive of our fielding a team in CART." The team will be based in Indianapolis, as the team has purchased a state-of-the-art shop on Methanol Lane.
"We are very excited about having owners with the racing and business acumen of Craig and Kevin," said Pook. "Having this team join the Champ Car World Series, especially given Craig's years with Formula 1, illustrates that we have built a series that is a destination for the top teams and drivers in the world."
Kalkhoven will not be involved in the daily racing operations, but he is no stranger to the sport. A life-long racing enthusiast, he has competed as a driver and recently renewed his SCCA national license. As the Chairman and CEO of JDS Uniphase, the corporation's market cap grew from $35 million to $100 billion. Prior to his retirement, Kalkhoven was among the top 50 CEOs on the Worth Magazine list.
"My interest in life is building businesses, and I regard PK Racing as a business," said Kalkhoven. "Craig and I have had the opportunity to discuss the business of racing quite frequently over the year, and I'm pleased that we are able to join forces in fielding a team in the CART series. I believe with CART's new rules it has made it possible for fresh teams and new blood to enter North American open-wheel road racing. I am sure this will create exciting and close racing for the fans."
Starting a racing team from scratch isn't new for Pollock. He was at the helm of BAR from its 1998 inception. Within two years, BAR had climbed to fourth in the constructors' standings. Pollock left BAR in 2001, although Pollock remains a shareholder and a member of the team's board of directors.
"We have made some mistakes in the past, but we have also done some very good things," said Pollock. "We're going to tap into the knowledge bank of what went right with the BAR start-up experience and use that as a type of blueprint for PK Racing, making sure that we don't make the same mistakes that slowed the development of BAR."