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)
4-Houston, Tx(CC-street circuit)
5-EuroSpeedway, Lausitz, Germany(CC-oval, 2001 & 2003)
8-Ft. Worth, Tx.(IRL-oval)
10-Watkins Glen(IRL-road course)
13-Road America(CC-road course)
17-Surfers Paradise(CC-street circuit)
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?