"Rule No. 1, don't screw up the race," Paul Gentilozzi, one of the three new owners, said last month at the introductory session after his group had taken over the Champ Car World Series from a bankrupt Championship Auto Racing Teams.
Several team defections and a shaky month later, Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach offered the first opportunity for that.
Glitches, yes. Hard to find a race without them.
One race does not a series make, but first impressions are important and the first impression was that this was pretty much business as usual at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
It wasn't a great race, as competitive events go, but great races at Long Beach have been the exception, not the rule.
There was a field of 18 cars, as Gentilozzi had promised, and if some of those cars could have used a "push-to-fly" button on the steering wheel, rather than the "push-to-pass" technology new in the series this year, well, the long season ahead offers time for late arrivals to catch up.
The driving, for the most part, was professional, and after an early-race pileup in the first turn, no yellow flag was shown for the rest of the race.
Attendance has declined in the last several years and there was no great leap forward this time around but, considering the uncertainties, with the new group conducting a race for the first time, the estimated turnout of 78,000 could be taken as a vote of confidence.
Gentilozzi figured the production for an unqualified success.
"We had a lot of people and somebody won," he said, after playing his pit role as owner of Lola-Fords driven by Alex Tagliani and Nelson Philippe in the main event and before turning winning Jaguar driver of the day-closing Trans-Am sedan race.
"There was no controversy, no conflict. Everyone raced clean -- we had the usual Long Beach first-turn wreck -- but it was an absolute success. The fans liked it, and there was a popular winner."
Promoter Jim Michaelian was less effusive but no less pleased.
"I was pleasantly surprised," he said. "It was a good day -- good for us and good for the series."
Canadian Paul Tracy, winner here last year, won again, beating Brazilian Bruno Junqueira after completing the only pass for the lead on the first competitive lap of the race. Fully understanding the advantage of driving in the lead on the tight seaside course, he used his customary driving aggressiveness and his "push-to-pass" button to beat Junqueira into the first turn, getting a little sideways in the process.
The "push-to-pass" gimmick is one of three Champ Car is using, at least to get the season started. It allows each driver 60 seconds of what would be called "passing gear" in a passenger car. When a driver chooses to use it is up to him.
Also new are mandated green-flag pit stops -- there were two for this race -- and the use of both long-lasting hard-compound and better-gripping soft-compound tires.
Neither of those played as prominently in the outcome of the race as the "push to pass," but Gentilozzi saw all as successful.
"They all worked," he said. "The guys who used them best got the most out of them."
Tracy certainly did. He used his extra boost early to get the lead -- "It's 45 or 50 extra horsepower and you can definitely feel it," he said -- timed his pit stops for maximum effect, then protected his substantial lead on the good-gripping gumballs after his last pit visit.
"There's a lot more strategy in the game with this format," he said.
He too figured the day as a success, for all concerned.
"The stands were packed all around [the course]," he said. "It was important to get off to a good start for the team and it was important for the series to show off its stars, so winning today was good....
"The people I'm competing against are great drivers. A lot don't have much recognition here, but a lot of them have come through the European ranks and the opportunity wasn't there for them. There's an opportunity here, and when people see them drive, they'll have recognition.
"In the past, when we had all the superstars, we had nonstop yellows. Everybody was crashing into each other. This is a good bunch of drivers."
An interested observer was Chris Pook, the man who 30 years ago had the idea of racing through the streets of Long Beach, the man who presided over the demise of CART.
Borrowing a thought from Gentilozzi, he said of the new group of owners, "It's theirs to screw up."
No guarantees, of course, for racing is a volatile business, but so far, so good.