Open-wheel deal raises questions

February 19, 2008
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The Indy Racing League series will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce its unification with Champ Car, sources close to the series said. John Griffin, Indy Racing League vice president of public relations, said though the exact timing of an announcement has not been confirmed it is “a fair assumption” that there will be an announcement tomorrow.

Champ Car teams this week began hustling to prepare for the Indy Racing League’s first open test Feb. 27 and 28, sources close to both series confirmed. That can only mean one thing, they said. Unification of the two open-wheel series is at hand.

There is already speculation that the unification will bring the series' car count as high as 26 running full-time and 40 cars gunning for 33 slots at the Indianapolis 500. While open-wheel insiders applaud the increased competition there is concern that some of the smaller teams will be driven out of business. There is also much speculation about what the revamped schedule will look like. Sources said those details—and others—will be disclosed at tomorrow’s press conference.

The question remains, if unification does happen, how big an impact will it have on open-wheel racing? And ulitmately, who will the winners and losers be?
  • Let us not forget the comments about owners propping up teams is very suited for the IRL as much as Champ Car. Neither series is in good shape. Both series would have failed without a unification. Champ Car has the rabid fans for the great racing. IRL just had better marketing and more money to dump into the league to keep it floating.
  • whatever, if CCWS had more than 300 rabid fans and the racing was THAT great then why would they be in dire straight? you sound like one of those rabid fans. My hope is that fans like you just go to F1 or A1GP and leave NAOWR alone.
  • I think there will be some losers in this. Certainly smaller teams on both sides are more likely to either go away, or become Indy-only entries. If this is what needs to happen for the series to be stronger, so be it. I think the IRL schedule will lose some oval races but hopefully not too many. Interestingly enough, some of the Champ Car owners talk about how they aren't interested in running ovals.....yet the schedule diversity was the one thing CART heralded in the early days of the split. The same could be said for the IRL's insistence on ovals and American drivers I suppose.

    But the teams who stick it out, the tracks that make the schedule, the sponsors, and most importantly the fans.....all winners in my eyes.
  • With KK, GF & DP not having to keep writing support checks, hopefully they'll see fit to spend their money for the common good of AOW.
  • FINALLY!!!! It's been such a sad state of affairs for so many year. I grew up watching mario and al sr. battle with their kids the young rick mears. Not a seat to be found in Speedway come may. I was pissed that TG made the mess back then, and still curse his name occasionally when you see some of the guys trying to fill the field on bubble day each year running 20 mph slower than the pole-sitter. So if unification brings back what's left of the good drivers in cart, please, do it and do it quick. I was just telling friends this weekend that I wasn't sure I was going to go to the 500 this year with all the talent headed to nascar. I can watch it on tv for the lack of talent. The prospect of bubble day, and the rest of the season being meaningful is exciting. I hope it happens and I hope we can get open wheel back to being a premier series in north america. It's great racing, when the talent is there to pilot the machines the way they are meant to be driven. A side note - kudos to Dario, TK and Scott Dixon for a great season last year that was probably the best year of of open wheel since the split. here's to another one!
  • I'm still not counting my chickens.... Until that announcement hits the newswire, I'm just holding my breath. Too many wankers involved and until the signatures are on the dotted line, someone's ego could still make it a no go.
  • The word is, the announcement is coming tomorrow. I think this is really it. But, who knows ... Casey has a point about the ... well, let's just say a few big judgement-clouding egos are involved. I predict attendance at qualifications and race day for the Indianapolis 500 will be at a 15-year high if the merger is pulled off.
  • It seems interesting that of the IRL teams, only Foyt is complaining about the unification. Likely he's one of those smaller teams that will be adversely affected.
  • This merger should have happened a long time ago. It probably will help, somewhat. As a guy who attended many Indy 500s as a kid, it still pains me that IMS has allowed NASCAR to move so far ahead of them that they're nearly impossible to catch. I can only attribute that to muddle-headed thinking and management.
  • Most recent info I've seen now says it's done and the press release is Friday at 11:00a.m. in Indy. Still not counting my chickens, but I am starting to do a rough estimate....

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