Open-wheel unity talks rolling again

February 8, 2008
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Sources close to the Indy Racing League and Champ Car say both sides have agreed on terms for a merger that will take place this year.

Indy Racing League boss Tony George is set to help any Champ Car teams that want to make the leap to the IRL, which has its season opener in Miami March 29, sources within the league said. George reportedly has offered free chassis and Honda engines to Champ Car teams that commit to the entire season.

A melded schedule still has to be ironed out, and at least one major rescheduling would be needed.

The talks, which have been on-again, off-again this off-season, seemed to be dead just a week ago. But now, sources close to principals for both series said George and Champ Car President Dick Eidswich along with officials for key sponsors and suppliers--notably Honda--will fly to Japan Feb. 9 to talk with officials at the Twin Ring Motegi track.

George, sources said, will try to persuade Twin Ring officials to reschedule the race now set there for April 19. IRL and Champ Car officials would like to stage the Long Beach Grand Prix in California for that weekend.

If the unification takes place, the IRL will add races in several key markets, including Mexico City and Surfers Paradise, Australia, in addition to Long Beach.

There’s no word on who would run the series, but motorsports experts said there’s little chance George would give up majority ownership. Not surprisingly, both sides are giving mixed signals. IRL officials admitted there have been recent unification discussions, but said there is no timetable for an announcement. Champ Car officials are saying as of Feb. 8 they are still planning to have their own open-wheel series this year.

Do you think open-wheel unification will really happen this time? And is it a good deal for the IRL?
  • Who knows? Who cares?

    The owners screwed up open-wheel racing many years ago when they formed CART. And then greedy Tony George screwed it up even worse by breaking off the IRL.

    Who knows? Who cares?
  • Many know, many care!

    There are many to cast stones at for what has happened to the former premier racing body in the USA. Could it be again, perhaps. The drivers remain the best and the product is fascinating and very competetive. Last year's IRL finale in victory for Franchitti over Dixon for the season championship occurred on the last lap in the final race with the two competitors going wheel-to-wheel for 10 laps. You won't see that in NASCAR.

    Pagan Vandal (shameful handle): Tony George's venture was not based upon greed, it was based upon the need to provide a better forum for teams and drivers to participate at more reasonable $. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out as planned, but there is no need at this time for name calling. Simply put, if you don't care, shut up.
  • its time to put the past behind us and get back to the best racing that open wheel can put on and bury that other series that dominates tv sports
  • Crossing my fingers (again!). Hopefully Honda will work with them to change the Montegi date.
  • Uhhh...make that MOTEGI.
  • With all the bad blood over the years, I think it is time for all open wheel fans to forget the past and lets get together and grow open wheel racing.
  • Face it, Tony is not the brightest guy in the world. It's scary to think a huge economic series of events is under his control.
  • Saw a rumor that CCWS files for bankruptcy 2/12 to facilitate unification. That way all of the cancelled venues/vendors sue a bankrupt entity. I'm keeping my fingers crossed this time. If it doesn't happen, both series deserve the heaps of debt that they'll reap this season.

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