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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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.