Tuesday, February 19, 2008

American Open-Wheel Split Over

Indy Car World Series Logo


The persistent dream of any fan of either the Champ Car World Series or the Indy Racing League has finally arrived: The two series are set to merge in time for the start of the 2008 racing season.

For 11 years the series have been separate entities, fighting for teams, sponsors, and fans. Originally a matter of ovals vs. road courses, each series diluted itself to become all things to all people, with neither accomplishing the desired result.

Robin Miller's article at SpeedTV.com has all of the currently-available details, but the important points follow:
  • Tony George, founder and current leader of the IRL, has offered free cars and $1.2 million to any Champ Car team that wishes to defect and is able to commit to the entire season.
  • Four current Champ Car teams have committed to the switch, with at least one more probable, bringing at least eight cars to the current IRL lineup.
  • The IRL is planning to integrate four current Champ Car race locations and dates into the 2008 calendar, including the Long Beach GP scheduled for April 20.
The result isn't so much a merger as Champ Car finally going under and the IRL salvaging the larger pieces. Few people, even die-hard fans of Champ Car, would argue that even this result is significantly better than two independent series. With any luck, the combination of the best open-wheel drivers, teams, and venues will attract long-lost fans and sponsors and return North American open-wheel racing to the top shelf.

The deal is officially done, per Robin Miller's follow-up article.

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