SANITY ?

All about the Champ Car World Series (CCWS)

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Could reunification be on the table again.....

Post by mlittle » Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:37 pm

In the history of the AOWR split between CART/CCWS and the Indy Racing League, there have been at least four attempts to reunify the two seemingly disparate series' under one roof... The first three attempts(2000-2002) were led by Roger Penske, and went subsequently nowhere....fast. Last April and May, racing scion Mario Andretti led an unsuccessful effort to reunify the two series, and it went nowhere, albeit not as fast. Now.....sources close to both series say that a merger of the two series may, finally, be closer than anyone can imagine.

According to mulitple sources(autoracing1.com, paddocktalk.com, and speedtv.com), IRL founder Tony George and ChampCar co-owner Kevin kalkhoven have met privately over the past two months, beginning in Paris, France during the 2005 Race of Champions exhibition and continuing in secret....until Tuesday. That's when the online edition of Autoweek posted a story on the merger talks, which according to both sides came at the worst possible moment. And, true to form, neither side admitted that the talks had been going on. According to all available sources, Honda's Robert Clarke, who runs HPD, Cosworth officials, and Bridgestone officials have signed on, as have Panoz officials. The series, which would be merged in 2007, would run the 2.65L turbo Cosworth XFE-3 engine instead of the 3.0L Honda H-16R engine, with Panoz suppling the chassis' and Bridgestone onboard as the tire supplier..although it was unclear whether they would use Bridgestone Potenzas' or Firestone Firehawks' as the tires the series would use.

Now, you may be asking.....why another round of merger talks? Whether you talk like one series or the other, one thing remains certain......both series struggled for TV ratings, car counts and sponsors in 2005. Both series are essentially spec-series and still can't compete at Indy, where the IRL will be hard-pressed this year to make the 33-car grid for the 90th Indy 500. If this merger actually happens.......I don't even want to think about it; lots of AOWR fans(myself included) have had their collective hearts broken now watching their beloved sport basically wither away.....so any merger talks would be good. :D :D

Normally, I'd add a little commentary to this, but I think the words of CCWS co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven will suffice for now.....
If people truly care about open-wheel racing in North America, then please go away and leave Tony and I alone.
Let us hope that the road to reunification has arrived. One can only hope for the best. That's my say....what's yours?
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SANITY ?

Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:22 am

It is reported here in Australia that Kevin Kalkhoven and Tony George have been having a quiet little chinwag together. with a view to merging their respective series :shock: When asked about it the two reportedly said " if you care about open wheeler racing leave us alone " 8)
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Post by mlittle » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:59 am

I'm one step ahead of you; there should be a commentary about it over on the ChampCar commentaries thread. :knight: :knight: :duel: 8) 8) 8)
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Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:19 am

mlittle wrote:I'm one step ahead of you; there should be a commentary about it over on the ChampCar commentaries thread. :knight: :knight: :duel: 8) 8) 8)
Thought so,
Too many posts, couldn't find it,
Sitting on top of the planet as we Australians do, it takes time for news to filter up to us. :fly2: :busy: :light:
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Post by mlittle » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:08 am

Julian Mayo wrote:
mlittle wrote:I'm one step ahead of you; there should be a commentary about it over on the ChampCar commentaries thread. :knight: :knight: :duel: 8) 8) 8)
Thought so,
Too many posts, couldn't find it,
Sitting on top of the planet as we Australians do, it takes time for news to filter up to us. :fly2: :busy: :light:
I went ahead and moved the commentary in question to this thread, Julian. It should be at the top of the thread.
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Update on merger talks.....

Post by mlittle » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:33 pm

On Speed News Sunday this evening, Andretti-Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti was quoted as saying that while he didn't want to know the details (of the merger), he hoped that the two principles, Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven go "behind closed doors" and get a merger deal done. Normally, I'd take this w/a grain of salt but for two reasons.....1}as part-owner of the IRL's largest IndyCar Series team, his words do carry a lot of weight, and 2}rumor has it that AGR wants a merger and has been pushing TG to get it done.


Granted, both the IRL and Champ Car deny that such talks are going on....and, personally, I don't blame them; if this merger is to be done, it must be done outside the view of the media, for the good of the sport.
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Why a Merger?

Post by mlittle » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:17 pm

Since 1996, it seems as though both major open-wheel series in North America, the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series(formerly CART) have been gripped in a death-struggle of sorts, each side trying to deliver mortal blows to each other. However, if recent events pan out, there could yet be peace in our time. Now, let me present the reason why such a merger like this can succeed....

1}Over the past ten years, both sides have spent dollars and time trying to outduel the other over teams, drivers, venues, sponsors, etc. Working together, the series can focus on building itself up, rather than either side trying to tear it down.

2}Over the past ten years, AOWR has lost hundreds of thousands of fans who, quite frankly grewq tired and weary of trying to figure out each series apart. Together, both can pool their marketing acumens together and bring back a lot of those fans.

3}With a merger, you get two immediate benefits, bigger car counts than at present, and the Indy 500 no longer has to worry about whether they can make 33 cars each year? Just think.....there could be some actual bumping in qualifying at Indy!

4}With a merger, the purses would grow from what they're at currently, and attendance would go up on the order of 20-35% from present figures.

5}Although it would be a long time before they would reach(if ever) the levels of NASCAR events, TV ratings for a unified series would grow, which would lead to higher TV revenues. In addition, sponsors would once again be interested in AOWR rather than NASCAR, which could help the sport immensely.

6}With a merger, engine supply issues would no longer be an issue; even without competition, all the teams would have access to the same engine(Cosworth) and if there is competition, they could do what the Rolex Series does......run all the engine suppliers(for ex., Honda and Cosworth) on a dyno, and map out the HP/torque curves. Then make the engines as nearly identical as possible, blueprint the engines for production, and ensure that only those blueprints are used. In addition, having a series-ctrled. ECU would help curtail any attempts by teams from cheating.


There's more reasons, but I think these suffice. Now, you might be asking, what would a merged schedule look like? Here's my suggestion for a possible 20-race merged schedule.......

1-St. Petersburg, Fla.(IRL-street circuit)
2-Long Beach(CC-street circuit)
3-Motegi, Japan(IRL-oval)
4-Houston, Tx(CC-street circuit)
5-EuroSpeedway, Lausitz, Germany(CC-oval, 2001 & 2003)
6-Indianapolis(IRL-superspeedway)
7-Milwaukee(IRL/CC-bullring oval)
8-Ft. Worth, Tx.(IRL-oval)
9-Cleveland(CC-street circuit)
10-Watkins Glen(IRL-road course)
11-Toronto(CC-street circuit)
12-Edmonton(CC-street circuit)
13-Road America(CC-road course)
14-Montreal(CC-road course)
15-Chicagoland(IRL-oval)
16-Denver(CC-street circuit)
17-Surfers Paradise(CC-street circuit)
18-Kentucky(IRL-oval)
19-Mexico City(CC-road course)
20-Las Vegas(CC-oval, 2004-2005)

In total, there are:8 street circuits, 4 road courses, 1 superspeedway, 6 ovals, and 1 short("bullring") oval. A majority non-oval lineup, with strong venues. Other places that could be added over time include.....Infineon(road course), Miller Mtrspts. Park(road course), Kansas(oval) and Richmond(bullring oval).

Now, what others things could we see with a merger of the two series?

1}Danica vs. Katherine. If you thought the storylines this past year were interesting, imagine in 2007 following the rivalry between the two best female drivers in the modern era....Danica Patrick vs. Katherine Legge.

2}No weak, struggling teams. Currently, there are about 7-8 teams from both series that are strong enough to stand on their own. Rumor has it that both TG and KK have had to helkp "bankroll" some of the struggling teams in both series. With a merged series, the strongest teams would survive, and those who want to stay would have to strengthen up accordingly.

3}The return of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. With a merged series, all eyes would indeed focus on Indy during the month of May, and the Indy 500 would return to its' place as the biggest race on the NA motorsports calendar.

4}If a merger succeeds, both Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven would come out of this looking like heroes, which would especially help TG as he is widely considered to be North America's version of the FIA's Max Mosely, and is widely despised by many in the sport for spliting the sport up as he did.

Anyway, there you have the reasons and benefits to a merged series. I've said it before, but it bears repeating.....for the sake of the sport, let us hope that they do succeed. That is all we fans of the sport can ask.

That's my say......what's yours?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:41 pm

a merged series will never surpass the 800lb Gorilla,most people just simply identify with the tin-tops. A merge however should see a healthy form of OWR, compared to both cancer riddled forms going around today
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Post by mlittle » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:50 pm

I think I said that somewhere.....you're right, though on two things....

1}it will take a long time for a merged series to come close to NASCAR's levels(if ever!), and
2}it would be a lot healthier than the current situation, where both the IRL and Champ Car, in the words of motorsports journalist Ed Hinton, are "simply breathing". :shock:
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Update on merger talks 2......

Post by mlittle » Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:45 am

Here's the link if anyone's interested...... www.speedtv.com/articles/auto/autoindustry/22685/

According to the above link, both Kevin Kalkhoven and Tony George have admitted that they are indeed in talks over a merger of their rival series. The major stumbling block, according to the above......what equipment will be used in a merged series. Neither side wants to give the other an advantage(understandable), thus, the block. But, by the sound of it, it appears a merger is closer now that at any time in the past 10 yrs.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:27 pm

Fingers crossed MFER :light:
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Post by mlittle » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:57 pm

Julian Mayo wrote:Fingers crossed MFER :light:
You AND me both. :light: :light:
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Re: Why a Merger?

Post by RE30B#16 » Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:49 am

mlittle wrote:5}Although it would be a long time before they would reach(if ever) the levels of NASCAR events, TV ratings for a unified series would grow, which would lead to higher TV revenues. In addition, sponsors would once again be interested in AOWR rather than NASCAR, which could help the sport immensely.
Why is there this issue and debate? I was very disappointed when the IRL/CART split happened, but I never for a second thought, "bunk it! I'll just watch NASCAR from now on."

NASCAR capitalized on an upswing of popularity led by the brilliance of Dale Earnhardt [Sr], the colorfulness of Rusty Wallace, the Waltrip brothers, Mark Martin, Ernie Irvin, Geoff Bodine, the Petty question, the Allisons, Fox Sports, an upstart from California named Jeff Gordon, and a movie by a 'hunk'. Sports fans don't migrate from their chosen sport because of the poor management of the sanctioning body.

CART blew apart at the height of its popularity, not because it was being blown away by NASCAR doing everything right. The Indy 500 is an American institution that was increasingly being taken over by foreign drivers who's names only true race fans would know. At every race I've ever attended, I become the guy everyone is asking, "so who's this guy, and where's he from?" Mario Andretti, an American household name ironically, was retiring, Big Al got "retired." Johnny Rutherford and AJ Foyt were out. Past Michael A. and Little Al, AOWR was starting to run out of "characters." NASCAR had them. NASCAR still has them.

Unfortunately, sponsors dictate how things go, and I believe the sponsors saw oval racing as a better option when it came to fans seeing their logos. They were having success in NASCAR, and the IRL looked to them like high-tech NASCAR sans fenders, so they defected to the IRL, leaving CART mortally wounded if it wanted to continue to race on race tracks versus superspeedways and street courses. The IRL's problems hit when Tony Stewart, the new AJ Foyt, went to race Nextel Cup [mainly because he got the salary he was after from a top team]. IRL was left with a bunch of Brazilians and sundry other South Americans [which has been great for North American companies looking to market in South America], some Canadians, and few guys from Japan and Europe. The few Americans left had little or no name recognition or weren't winning, so who cared about them.

AOWR is the greatest rush I have ever experienced with the acception of Formula 1. I have been to all types of racing including NASCAR, but there is something about open-wheel racing in American that is sweet. This is why the Indy 500 will be back to it's former glory when reunification occurs. America wants it. The Super Bowl did not have the dip in rating all the analysts predicted. As a matter of fact, demographically, the viewership expanded.

I pose one question to you: how do you think the Nextel Cup's popularity would go [up or down] if suddenly they didn't have the following 5 drivers in the series anymore--

Jeff Gordon
Dale Earhardt, Jr
Tony Stewart
Michael Waltrip
Mark Martin?

I submit the series would be in trouble. Nobody but the hardcore Cup fans would care. You and I know that the hard core fans are the fewest in numbers.

Keep the faith!!


Chris
Christoforo

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Fernando Alonso is currently the best... Period!!!


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Post by Julian Mayo » Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:59 am

Lets see what happens when Marcus Ambrose holds the Nextel Cup aloft at the end of next season :woohoo:
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Re: Why a Merger?

Post by mlittle » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:15 am

RE30B#16 wrote:
mlittle wrote:5}Although it would be a long time before they would reach(if ever) the levels of NASCAR events, TV ratings for a unified series would grow, which would lead to higher TV revenues. In addition, sponsors would once again be interested in AOWR rather than NASCAR, which could help the sport immensely.
Why is there this issue and debate? I was very disappointed when the IRL/CART split happened, but I never for a second thought, "bunk it! I'll just watch NASCAR from now on."

NASCAR capitalized on an upswing of popularity led by the brilliance of Dale Earnhardt [Sr], the colorfulness of Rusty Wallace, the Waltrip brothers, Mark Martin, Ernie Irvin, Geoff Bodine, the Petty question, the Allisons, Fox Sports, an upstart from California named Jeff Gordon, and a movie by a 'hunk'. Sports fans don't migrate from their chosen sport because of the poor management of the sanctioning body.

CART blew apart at the height of its popularity, not because it was being blown away by NASCAR doing everything right. The Indy 500 is an American institution that was increasingly being taken over by foreign drivers who's names only true race fans would know. At every race I've ever attended, I become the guy everyone is asking, "so who's this guy, and where's he from?" Mario Andretti, an American household name ironically, was retiring, Big Al got "retired." Johnny Rutherford and AJ Foyt were out. Past Michael A. and Little Al, AOWR was starting to run out of "characters." NASCAR had them. NASCAR still has them.

Unfortunately, sponsors dictate how things go, and I believe the sponsors saw oval racing as a better option when it came to fans seeing their logos. They were having success in NASCAR, and the IRL looked to them like high-tech NASCAR sans fenders, so they defected to the IRL, leaving CART mortally wounded if it wanted to continue to race on race tracks versus superspeedways and street courses. The IRL's problems hit when Tony Stewart, the new AJ Foyt, went to race Nextel Cup [mainly because he got the salary he was after from a top team]. IRL was left with a bunch of Brazilians and sundry other South Americans [which has been great for North American companies looking to market in South America], some Canadians, and few guys from Japan and Europe. The few Americans left had little or no name recognition or weren't winning, so who cared about them.

AOWR is the greatest rush I have ever experienced with the acception of Formula 1. I have been to all types of racing including NASCAR, but there is something about open-wheel racing in American that is sweet. This is why the Indy 500 will be back to it's former glory when reunification occurs. America wants it. The Super Bowl did not have the dip in rating all the analysts predicted. As a matter of fact, demographically, the viewership expanded.

I pose one question to you: how do you think the Nextel Cup's popularity would go [up or down] if suddenly they didn't have the following 5 drivers in the series anymore--

Jeff Gordon
Dale Earhardt, Jr
Tony Stewart
Michael Waltrip
Mark Martin?

I submit the series would be in trouble. Nobody but the hardcore Cup fans would care. You and I know that the hard core fans are the fewest in numbers.

Keep the faith!!


Chris

Very good posting, RE. I thought I was reading one of my own commentaries for a moment........there was one small disagreement, though. You write,
Sports fans don't migrate from their chosen sport because of the poor management of the sanctioning body.
There's probably a lot of former NHL fans who might argue that point with you. But in all seriousness, the blame on who has sunk AOWR to its' current depths could be summarized to the following.....Tony George, Andrew Craig, and to a lesser extent, Joe Heitzler and Chris Pook.
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