Friday, February 29, 2008

ChampCar and IndyCar Become One In 2008

Indy Racing League CEO and founder Tony George shook hands with Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven in front of a packed meeting room at Homestead-Miami Speedway to formally announce the unification. Standing behind them as a sign of unity were nearly two dozen drivers from both series. In photo looking on from left to right: Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti of Andretti/Green Racing, and Robert Doornbos of Minardi Team USA - Image Credit: Shawn Payne

ChampCar and IndyCar Become One In 2008

… and then there was one!

Video Of Announcement

That’s right, there will no longer be two competing major professional open-wheel racing series to split the pool of available team owners, drivers, sponsors, loyalties of fans, and formula rules managed here in North America.

With unification, it will give participants the ability for all to build a competitive series of annual races (Tony George, President of the IRL looks to have 20 races in the schedule for 2009) that will lend the world an alternative to the “Anything Goes” structure of Formula One (which currently has races in 18 venues).

“American” open-wheel automobile racing has always sought to have a formula on which to race focused on safety, and controlling costs while allowing racing teams to have a greater than equal chance at being competitive with each other. On any given race day, any driver could win a pole position or a race because the equipment and the rules that govern the use of the equipment and on track race management (stoppages for debris, accidents and pit stops) help to promote parity.

In Formula One, the expenditures for equipment are basically not an issue and the rules that govern use of technology are at a minimum. On track race management rules do not allow for drivers to catch up during stoppages for accidents and there is no “Yellow Flag” restart process as there is in American auto sports. While the automobiles that are created bust the bounds of imagination in performance, the competition basically remains with the racing teams that spend the most money. Winning is left in the control of two to three teams throughout the course of a season.

Image Credit:

This excerpted from Racing One –

Unification Announced

J.J. O'Malley - RacingOne Contributor - HOMESTEAD, Fla - Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008

After 12 years of division - and nearly 30 years of animosity - the leaders of American open-wheel racing declared it's time to look forward and proceed with a unified IndyCar Series.

Indy Racing League CEO and founder Tony George shook hands with Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven in front of a packed meeting room at Homestead-Miami Speedway to formally announce the unification. Standing behind them as a sign of unity were nearly two dozen drivers from both series.

Brian Barnhart, IRL vice president of operations, said that anywhere from 8-12 cars from former Champ Car teams could be added to the grid for the season-opening Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300, set for March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Champ Car teams joining the IndyCar Series will each get two Dallara chassis from a pool of exiting new and used chassis; a one-year Honda engine lease; and $1.2 million per car from the IndyCar TEAM program.

To facilitate the transition, Champ Car teams will be partnered with IndyCar Series teams. For instance, Kalkoven's team (now known as KV Racing in partnership with Jimmy Vasser) will work with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Rahal Letterman will work with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, and Andretti Green will work with Forsythe.

Also to be consolidated into the IndyCar Series are several of Champ Car's tangible properties - including the medical transporter - and intellectual and historical properties, including Champ Car's historical records.
[View List Of Drivers That Competed In CART and Champ Car World Series That Will Now Join The History Of The Indianapolis Racing League]

As rumored, the April 20 race at Long Beach, California, will be the final event for the current Champ Car Panoz chassis and Cosworth engines, although it will follow the IndyCar Series purse and point structure. Kalkhoven hinted that he would not be surprised to see several of the IndyCar Series drivers flying in from the Saturday IndyCar Series race at Motegi, Japan, to also race at Long Beach.

In addition, races at Edmonton, Canada, and Surfer's Paradise, Australia, may be added to the current 16-race IRL schedule.

George said at the beginning of the conference that he was recently reflecting on the 30th anniversary of his grandfather's death (former Indianapolis Motor Speedway head Tony Hulman, who passed away in 1977), and realized that it had been 30 years since the sport has been truly unified.
Kalkhoven said that he and George have talked about the unification for four years.

"It's been a long and hard road to get here," Kalkhoven said. "But, we are here. Unification in itself is not a magic bullet. This will take a lot of hard work. This still requires a huge amount of work."

Barnhart said that there was 100 percent attendance by the Champ Car teams at a recent orientation in Indianapolis.

"They were genuinely pleased with the package they were offered," he said.
"We hope to get through this 2008 season and make this a story for the fans," George said. "If the fans are happy, we will have happy teams and sponsors.
The Indy Racing League began competition in 1996, running an initial three-race schedule. The IRL and CART ran head-to-head on the Memorial Day weekend that year, with the U.S. 500 run at Michigan International Speedway the same time that the Indianapolis 500 was run.
Homestead Testing Underway
Wednesday also marked the opening of two days of testing for the IndyCar Series on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. None of the Champ Car teams had cars at the test, with 17 IndyCar Series regulars participating.

Spring Training continues March 3-6 at Sebring International Raceway. The series will be divided into two groups of cars, each testing for two days.

While the Champ Car teams are not expected to be ready for the Sebring test, they will have two days of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Monday and Tuesday March 24-25.

In addition to the four cars from Andretti-Green Racing (Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh) and two each from Team Penske (Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon) and Marty Roth Racing (Roth and Jay Howard), A.J. Foyt (Darren Manning), Rahal Letterman (Ryan Hunter-Reay) and Panther Racing (Vitor Meira) had one car each for the Homestead test. Vision Racing brought a second car for Anthony Foyt to partner with Ed Carpenter, while Dreyer Reinbold brought a second car for Milka Duno to join Buddy Rice.
The 2008 [unified] IndyCar Series season takes the green flag at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 29, with the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300
Reference Here>>

Graham Rahal charging a corner ... Team Rahal Letterman will work with Team Newman/Haas/Lanigan - Image Credit: Newman/Haas/Lanigan

Several ChampCar teams that have issued first responses are as follows:

First off, Forsythe Racing will not compete in the unification series (originally paired up with AGR for the transition) opting to pull out and race only in the former feeder series of Formula Atlantic which becomes an unassociated and independent entry-level professional series.

Statement from Frosythe Racing website -

Forsythe Racing to Focus on Atlantic Championship

Champ Car February 28, 2008

Forsythe Championship Racing LLC, which has participated in CART and Champ Car over the past 13 seasons, will cease operations following the April 20th Long Beach Grand Prix. Parent company Forsythe Racing, Inc. will continue its Atlantic program with drivers James Hinchcliffe and David Garza.

Thanks to all the fans who supported us over the years!
Reference Here>>

This, from a strong team with the following statistics:
TEAM STATS Years: 16 Victories: 32 Poles: 34

Paul Tracy needs a ride - Career: 30 Champ Car Wins, 25 Poles, 2003 Champ Car Champion

Conquest Racing was the first team to issue an announcement from team owner, Eric Bachelart stating that they will field two cars fot the season opening race to be held March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Franck Perera was announced as one of the drivers, with the other driver still to be announced.

This excerpted from the IndyCar website -

"Finally, we have come together as one," Bachelart said. "It's been a long time coming and we can now all move ahead in the same direction under one roof. The work is only starting, but now that there is solidarity in open-wheel racing it will make it that much easier to take this sport to where it needs to be.

"It's a great moment for open-wheel racing in general and for the fans and our sponsors. We are happy to be competing under the Indy Racing League banner with our other fellow 'Champ Car' competitors against established IndyCar Series teams and we are also looking forward to the new challenge that this unification brings us."

Added Bachelart, who participated as a driver in the 1992 and 1995 Indianapolis 500:

"The first few races won't be easy, but we gladly accept the challenge. Thankfully, we will not be in complete unknown territory having competed in the IRL in 2002.

Obviously, the competition level has increased since then and there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we get to the same level as the IRL teams, but that's what racing is all about. We are really excited and can't wait to get to work on the Dallaras."
Reference Here>>

Tony Kanaan, right, chats with Bruno Junqueira, while Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe (in red) listen in. Image Credit: Dave Lewandowski -

PKV Racing’s site is under construction.

Dale Coyne Racing’s site hasn’t had a news release since the end of last year although Bruno Junqueira was in attendance at the Homestead announcement.

Rocketsports Racing – No Update since 2-5-2008

Dutchman, Robert Doornbos of Minardi Team USA in the "Fountain Corner" at the 2007 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Sutton Motorsport Images

Minardi Team USA - No Update since 2-4-2008

This excerpted from Walker Racing website –

UPDATE FOR THE FANS: Back to the Future

By: Derrick Walker - February 23, 2008

After four long weeks, we can finally say the deal is done. Walker Racing wanted to take this opportunity to update the fans again with what we know and where we go from here.
Now the merger is done. It's day one of the rest of our lives. What are we doing and what is needed to complete the transition for the teams?

One of the major hurdles for the teams is going to be getting access to all of the parts necessary to turn up and compete at a level similar to what they were doing in Champ Car. There is a lot to learn about the new car, which will be a separate learning curve and a separate hurdle. In the next six weeks the teams have to get cars, kits and all the parts necessary to run the cars, build them and test for at least four to six days, which will be a luxury if they manage it for the first event.
Top down view of the very capable DP01 racing chassis that will go away after the 2008 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Image Credit: Walker Racing

Probably the most difficult factor for the teams will be acquainting themselves to an IRL car. There is a lot to be done in a short span of time and, because of the time frame, it will be an expensive six weeks for the teams to endure.

Having said that, it's probably the cart before the horse when looking at what needs to be done. Once it's known what the series is doing and everyone has gotten over the merger announcement, it needs to be determined if the sponsors are still interested.
If you take Walker Racing specifically, since the last race in 2007, we have gone from a two car program in Champ Car to maybe a two car program in the IndyCar Series. A lot of time has been lost in being able to move forward and secure a two car program. One car is the first step. I think the Champ Car teams are going to be somewhat surprised when they see the cost of the Indy Car and this will be an ongoing concern as the season unfolds.

For example, in Champ Car you can't do wind tunnel testing. In the IndyCar Series you can.
These are all differences and transitional ramp up elements, which is specifically team related. As we have seen in the Champ Car situation, it is possible to reduce the cost and not affect the show. For the 2007 season, there were more competitive entries and more challenges for race wins than there probably was in the last three years prior. Stabilizing the formula, bringing the costs down, and containing development would really be a request, if nothing else, to the league for 2010.
All of the employees and drivers (Will Power and Simon Pagenaud) have been extremely patient with the process. It's hard to imagine saying to an athlete who's racing or playing for a championship to put their careers on hold for several months while the sport decides if it's going to be playing at Wimbledon or not. It's hard to imagine the effect on a driver to be put on hold like this, but Will has been very supportive of the team and has been standing by for this important announcement to be made so that he can get into the car and go racing.

We would like to continue to thank the fans for your continued support. We will keep you posted on this new journey and what this means for open wheel racing and Walker Racing.

Reference Here>>

Image Credit: Pacific Coast Motorsports (LAT, 2007)

And finally, this from Pacific Coast Motorsports website –

Pacific Coast Motorsports Statement on the Unification of Open-Wheel Racing
Katie Brannan, Feburary 22, 2008

Tyler Tadevic, Team Director - Pacific Coast Motorsports

“We are thrilled to have a unified series, without a doubt this provides the strongest platform for our partners going forward. It is our intention for Pacific Coast Motorsports to continue its open-wheel endeavors. Our goal is to be on the IRL grid at the GAINSCO Grand Prix in Miami with two IndyCars. We are working diligently on this program and welcome all opportunities.

In addition, it is our intention to continue our Atlantic program with our young American stars Frankie Muniz and Carl Skerlong. Vicki O’Connor (Atlantic President) has a long, successful history leading the Atlantic series and we are confident she will find the series a good home.

We are grateful to the Champ Car community and to our fans who have shown us great support and we look forward to a brighter future for Open-Wheel Racing in North America.”
Reference Here>>

Let's Go Racing!

... notes from The EDJE

No comments: