Make of this what you will...



Agreement to merge the IRL and Champ Car may finally be at hand

AutoWeek | Published 02/21/06, 10:45 am et


This is almost certainly the one. More than a decade after Tony George
cut ties with CART and launched the Indy Racing League, after years of
declining popularity and failed efforts to end the rift in Indy-style
racing, all indicators suggest there is essential agreement to merge
the IRL and Champ Car World Series for the 2007 season.

Indeed, George and Champ Car co-owner (and front man) Kevin Kalkhoven
may be ready to sign a letter of intent.

Kalkhoven downplays any pending deal, but concedes that he and George
have met several times in the last month.

"There is no letter of intent, and absolutely, completely no deal,''
Kalkhoven told AutoWeek. "We met in Paris at the Race of Champions and
on a couple of occasions since, socially. Certainly I expect there will
be more meetings in the future. I quite enjoy (George's) company."

Just fast friends? This is the same wary Kalkhoven who said he had no
plan to buy Cosworth Racing a week before the deal closed. Third
parties say he and George have agreed on the principal issues and
informed key team owners and partners such as engine supplier Honda and
tire supplier Bridgestone/Firestone. Those partners remain tight-lipped
beyond general endorsement of the unification process.

"If it happens it will be fantastic," said Bridgestone racing chief Al
Speyer.

What reason is there to believe this is any different than several
previous attempts to get the IRL and Champ Car back under one tent?

Clearly, George and Kalkhoven have established some personal
rapprochement, perhaps friendship. This process is the initiative of
the principals, man to man, with no aides, intermediaries or lawyers to
get in the way, and the meetings have been frequent over a short time
span.

Points of agreement include 50/50 ownership of the merged series, which
will be independent of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with George and
Kalkhoven acting as co-chairmen. Both Honda (IRL) and Cosworth (Champ
Car), with or without Ford badging, are in. Bridgestone is in as tire
supplier, though it's not certain whether that would be with the
Bridgestone or Firestone brand. There may already be agreement on more
specific points, but those who know are unwilling to share that
information for fear of scuttling the process or enflaming the
sensitivities of self-interested parties in both camps before the deal
is done.

Based on the current state of affairs, several other things are
apparent. The more traditional 2.65-liter turbo V8 currently used in
Champ Car seems the more likely choice, as opposed to the IRL's
normally aspirated 3.5. Champ Car has a new chassis well into
development with Panoz (one of the IRL's current suppliers), scheduled
to debut in 2007.

Champ Car's Atlantic feeder series has a brand new chassis, Mazda power
and some 20 teams committed for 2006, while the IRL's Pro Series is on
life support (if not already deceased). The schedule will center on the
Indy 500, and be filled with upwards of 15 of the most successful race
dates from both series, more of which still belong to Champ Car. Based
on current rosters for both series, a merger could deliver 25 funded,
viable full-season entries--perhaps more--and real bumping at the Indy
500.

Stay tuned. The big question at this point is whether peace (and
rationality) have prevailed too late to salvage what remains of Indy
car racing. <<<<<


Did they leave out the part about TG having to be buried alive
underneath the yard o' bricks for the deal to go through?

Dave

.



Relevant Pages

  • Re: Make of this what you will...
    ... Story was probably leaked by the jealous types that surround Tony and aren't ... I think we might be getting somewhere without the IRL administrator's vested ... George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven ...
    (rec.autos.sport.cart)
  • Re: Make of this what you will...
    ... Rational people know that CCWS has many more popular venues than the IRL. ... George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven ... "If it happens it will be fantastic," said Bridgestone racing chief Al ...
    (rec.autos.sport.cart)
  • Re: [IndyCar/ChampCar] Kommt die Wiedervereinigung doch?
    ... As Indy Racing League officials travel to Japan for a critical meeting ... Apparently angered that news of negotiations among Champ Car and IRL ... hear the news from Tony George." ...
    (de.rec.sport.motorsport.misc)
  • Re: Make of this what you will...
    ... Frankly the racing on both sides have been mostly boring in comparison to the politics surrounding the split. ... I'd hate it if I'd have to like Tony George and his bag lady looking mother again. ... George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven ... "If it happens it will be fantastic," said Bridgestone racing chief Al ...
    (rec.autos.sport.cart)
  • Re: Champ Car Heading for Bankruptcy?
    ... Tony George was still optimistic about a plan to unify open wheel racing for 2008 following his trip to Japan to try and reschedule the race at Motegi to accommodate Long Beach. ... The word on the street late Monday was that Champ Car plans to file bankruptcy within the next 24-48 hours which, effectively, will end the 12-year war in open wheel. ...
    (rec.autos.sport.cart)