IRL traveling bumpy road: Despite successes, sponsors are walking, teams are folding and top drivers lack rides

The Feb. 4-7 auction of locally based Panther Racing hangs over the open-wheel series like a dark cloud at a time when IRL officials have been crowing about its 2005 successes. Television ratings soared 53 percent from 2004 to 2005, attendance increased 9 percent, merchandise sales were up 75 percent, and Web traffic on the series' site rose 162 percent. According to Joyce Julius and Associates, an independent Ann Arbor, Mich.-based media research firm, sponsors got 57 percent more exposures...

 

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