Saturday, March 29, 2008

CCWS, Lost In Transition | No Parts! No Sponsors! No Problem!

Homestead-Miami Speedway (grandstands as depicted from a "wallpaper" image available from the website) site of round one of eighteen for the 2008 Indianapolis Racing League points championship. Image Credit:

CCWS, Lost In Transition No Parts! No Sponsors! No Problem!

With apologies to Kenny Chesney, this pretty much sums up the effects of the “merger” of the ChampCar World Series into the Indianapolis Racing League thus unifying professional open-wheel racing in North America.

Before this season opening weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway got underway, the ranks of the CCWS transitioned drivers and teams got hit with a couple of sad notes.

First off, Graham Rahal, while taking practice laps at the speedway, bottomed out and spun into the wall. He will not be able to field a car for the race because there were not enough replacement parts and very little time to turn the car around. It is interesting to note that both Dan Weldon (Ganassi Racing) and Jay Howard (Roth Racing) were able to get parts and repair their cars for the race - Roth Racing is a new team for this year, after not competeing last year, but not a CCWS transition team.

Second, due to the low quantity of replacement parts, the IRL Management informed all transitioning CCWS teams that they will be no replacement parts for the next few races (translation, only race hard enough to not damage the equipment otherwise you will end up like Graham Rahal and Newman/Hass/Lanigan).

Dan Wheldon is confident he can recover from his qualifying crash and be a major contender in tonight's IRL IndyCar Series season-opener at Homestead. /// The 2005 champion is chasing a record fourth consecutive win at the Miami oval, and was fastest in the opening practice session. /// But he crashed on his first lap in qualifying, spinning into the Turn 4 wall. Caption & Image Credit:

In the month or so leading up to this fist race of the season, it was hoped that most of the ten teams and at least nine or so of the 19 drivers that had competed in the 2007 CCWS season would be able to transition for a full season in the IRL for 2008.

Even in a perfect world, where the equipment was exactly the same from one series to the other, where sponsors would stick with the teams they supported and no conflicts with advertisers in effort funding existed, these hopeful projections on a positive transition for the CCWS merger into the IRL were, at best, very aggressive.

The facts of transition on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 are not as robust as CCWS fans would like.

The CCWS drivers and teams from 2007 that made the show in Miami at qualifications yesterday add up as follows:

2007 CCWS Drivers
Justin Wilson (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing), Will Power (KV Racing Technology), Oriol Servia (KV Racing Technology), Bruno Junqueira (Dale Coyne Racing)

Other drivers on CCWS teams
Enrique Bernoldi (Conquest Racing), Franck Perera (Conquest Racing), Ernesto Viso (HVM Racing), Mario Moraes (Dale Coyne Racing)

Final tally is four drivers and five teams (technically six, Forsythe Racing is acting a a consultant to Conquest Racing)

Missing drivers to not make the transition for the first race are:

Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing) – Crash, Lack Of Parts

Drivers with No Team or No Seat
Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing) 2007 Champion, Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA) - 2007 3ird Place Championship Rookie Of The Year, Dan Clarke (Minardi Team USA), Paul Tracy (Forsythe Petit Racing), David Martinez (Forsythe Petit Racing), Alex Tagliani (Rocketsports Racing), Simon Pagenaud (Team Australia), Tristan Gommendy (PKV Racing), Neel Jani (PKV Racing), Mario Dominguez (Pacific Coast Motorsports), Alex Figge (Pacific Coast Motorsports), Ryan Dalziel (Pacific Coast Motorsports), Jan Heylen (Conquest Racing), Nelson Philippe (Conquest Racing), Kathren Legge (Dale Coyne Racing).

A sad decimation to a talented group of road race specialists – Drivers and Teams.

The GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 logo for the opening round race of the 2008 IRL season held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Image Credit:

This excerpted from -

You can feel it

By Dave Lewandowski - 3-29-2008

Twenty-five drivers will compete on the 1.5-mile oval in front of an enthusiastic crowd and global TV audience for the first time since 1978 under a unified sanctioning body. The IndyCar Series carries the banner into a season with a diverse group of racetracks and drivers, but united in its message.
Seeing 25 cars practice and move into the qualifications line was gratifying for scores of people who doggedly pursued unification – since the Indy Racing League's first event in 1996 and even further back to 1979, when the Championship Auto Racing Teams was formed and splintered from USAC sanctioning. Now they'll watch the first competition matching some of the best race car drivers in the world.

"I hope it's memorable and historic," Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George, who gave impetus to a successful unification plan, said of the 200-lap race.
Reference Here>>

And with the attitudes expressed above (not one mention of the ChampCar World Series) it is little wonder that there are any CART/CCWS teams and drivers on the track at all!

Some of us remember a time when the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were somewhat happy at the level of competition that the Championship Auto Racing Teams sanctioning body delivered to the famed rectangle race track.

At its zenith, CART had several choices of manufacturer on which a car could be fielded. Choices on chassis, engine package, shock absorbers, and tires made it possible to have approximately 17 or so configurations on which to base a car’s set up. Even with this diversity of engineering template, the top 15 or so racers would consistently qualify within one second of each other on a closed road or street course – that’s competitive.

Today, the 25 competitors have two chassis choices, but realistically only one will be on the track, the Dallara (vs the Panoz G-Force), delivers the level of competition required to place in the top 18 out of 25, one engine and one tire.

When the cars take the track today only 10 cars of the 25 were within one second of each other on the closed “oval” course of the less than 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The beauty in all of this, there is only one management and sanctioning body on which to lay all of the blame or to give all of the accolades.

Welcome to the new and unified IndyCar 2008. Let the games begin.

Personally, here at The EDJE, we really want to give accolades.

Next race for the points championship is Saint Petersberg, Florida ... next big test for IRL Management, Long Beach.

... notes from The EDJE

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