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CART to get World Championship status?

FORMULA 1 could face increased competition for sponsors and television coverage from a CART-inspired FIA World Oval Racing Championship within the next five years. The recent days have seen announcements that CART will host races next year at the "Eurospeedway Berlin Brandenburg" (otherwise known as the Lausitzring) in the former East Germany and at the new Rockingham oval near Corby, in England. Both deals are believed to be for five years. The German 500 will take place on the Eurospeedway's two-mile oval on September 15, 2001 with the Rockingham race taking place a week later on September 22.

CART is also expanding to race in Mexico City next year and already has races in Canada, Brazil, Australia and Japan. Our spies tell us that since Bobby Rahal took over running the sport there has been a significant switch in strategy with the intention being to reach some kind of agreement with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so that CART teams can race their cars in the Indianapolis 500. It is probably significant that CART team owner Roger Penske has announced his intention to rent an IRL car later this month to run for Gil de Ferran and Helio Castro Neves at Indianapolis.

We also hear that CART has agreed to become directly sanctioned by the FIA with the long term intention of establishing a World Cup and eventually a World Oval Championship. This could mean that Grands Prix and oval races will run on alternate dates throughout the summer months. CART's global popularity is likely to be boosted by Sylvester Stallone's planned movie which is expected to be in cinemas by the middle of next year. The movie is expected to be called "Driven" and will feature Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Estella Warren and Kip Pardue under the direction of racing fan Renny Harlin.

CART's shift towards ovals may also open up the possibility of Formula 1 taking over some of the road races which CART currently runs in the United States, notably the Long Beach and Detroit Grands Prix.

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