NASCAR/ISC gets dirty in Phoenix, out to destroy open wheel racing?
by Mark Cipolloni

 May 27, 2006

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Being rather appalled that one racing organization would try to hurt another racing organization, we decided to piece together a chronology of the misdirections and misconceptions NASCAR and ISC is using to try and hurt open wheel racing in Phoenix, and more specifically Champ Car.  It's clear from their actions that they are out to destroy any form of racing that isn't what they think it should be, i.e. NASCAR style oval racing.

Not only are the actions listed below an attack on Champ Car, it is an attack on the IRL as well since many believe the current talks of a merger will eventually lead to one unified Indy Car Series again.  If Tony George thinks that the France family and NASCAR are an ally, he needs to think again. NASCAR is out to monopolize all racing in the USA.  Their actions speak for themselves. 

They may pray to God before every race on Sunday but the other six days of the week they use their influence and deep pockets to run roughshod over all other USA racing series to get what they ultimately want - a NASCAR monopoly.

The City of Phoenix wants to start an urban development project that will include an Entertainment Center and new arena and they want to hold a big festival race weekend to highlight the downtown redevelopment.  NASCAR and ISC are trying to stop Champ Car and are in turn are defeating what the city is trying to accomplish.  The monopoly called NASCAR/ISC has now gone so far as to have an attachment to a bill going through the state legislature to institute an urban noise ordinance that would effectively ban racing from city streets. They have hired another four lobbyists to rush it through.

If successful in Phoenix what's to stop NASCAR/ISC from introducing similar bills against all Champ Car and IRL street races to have street racing banned and ensure that they control all racing in the future?

List of misdirections and misconceptions by NASCAR/ISC in effort to stop Phoenix street race

1. May 22, 2006 – Phoenix International Raceway (PIR)/Manzanita Letter to Phoenix Mayor Gordon
a. Stated that the race will surely fail, as do nearly all other street races. Fact: Champ Car has staged over 100 successful street races in the past 30 years.
b. Calls Champ Car minor league.  Fact: No, Champ Car is a professional race series.  Its Atlantic series is minor league.
c. States that Champ Car cancelled a race with only two days notice. Fact: That has never happened to a Champ Car street race and it was ISC's Fontana that cancelled a Champ Car race within two days of a race.
d. States that PIR representatives were kicked out of a public meeting with city officials.  Fact: We can't substantiate this.
e. Says that businesses and residents within the track will be “stranded” for at least 5 days.  Fact:  The race is proposed around arenas and their parking lots.  Very few businesses will be affected.
f.  Insinuates that promoter is seeking tax dollars as a subsidy. Fact: The promoter has gone on record that they are not asking the city for any subsidies.
g. Says that Champ Car  “often” runs races at facilities such as PIR. Fact: Often is not accurate. Also, Champ Car was forced out of PIR in the '90s, in order for ISC to make way for IRL.
h. Questions the safety of Champ Car street races and insinuates that they are unsafe as compared to permanent facilities. Fact: Champ Car has had very few injuries on street circuits and in fact it has been NASCAR and the IRL that has many serious and fatal accidents on their oval tracks.

2. May 23, 2006 – Phoenix Business Journal – Downtown Car Race Proposal Draws Criticism.
a.  PIR President Bryan Sperber states that “Whatever resources they put into that are resources that are going to be directed away from legitimate road improvements somewhere else in the community.”  Fact:  Sperber has no proof of this and in fact it is his opinion, and nothing more.
b.  Sperber states that Champ Car raced at PIR until the mid-90’s when the “industry underwent changes.” Not a lie, but this makes it sound like there was some sort of market force at work. However, the reality is that PIR chose the IRL over Champ Car and hasn’t drawn a decent crowd since.

3. May 24, 2006 – Arizona Republic – Green Flag Sought for Downtown Race.
a. PIR president Bryan Sperber states, “This thing has been developed under a cloak of darkness….Let's get out of this other hokey street race and develop a strong relationship between NASCAR and downtown.” Fact: Nothing “hokey” about 150,000 fans watching race cars at 180mph on city streets, with Phoenix as a backdrop. As for “cloak of darkness,” that is nothing but an insult to the businessmen putting this project together, the community leaders who have been involved and the City of Phoenix that has played this strictly by the rules. The City of Phoenix was initially contacted by the promoters and City staff informed the promoters that the initial work must be performed by the promoters as City statute allows no more than eight hours of work on an event without City Council approval. The promoters met with all impacted downtown parties and received their support and subsequently, took that information to the City which then determined it was appropriate to move forward with the public process. The public process began with the Council subcommittee meeting on May 24th where the City staff was authorized to continue working on this project. There has been no attempt to hide the plan.

4. May 25, 2006 – Arizona Republic - City to Examine Impact of a Car Race Downtown
a. Sperber states that the City shouldn’t be working with this "rinky-dink race (but) with NASCAR, the premier brand in motorsports." Fact: There is no way that NASCAR will award Phoenix a third Cup race and PIR is not about to give up one of its two.  So to say the City should be working with NASCAR to bring a race downtown, is simply a lie to try to discredit Champ Car.

5. May 25, 2006 – Pat McMahon Show (KTAR-AM Phoenix) – Interview w/ Bryan Sperber
a. Said that the project is being fast-tracked without proper government scrutiny. Fact:  See 3a above.
b. Said it will have a negative impact on taxpayers, through the havoc caused by construction and disruption.  Fact: Downtown street races bring millions of dollars more in revenue that expenses to a local community.
c. Says he’s the expert, as he’s been in the business for 16 years. Fact: Sperber has never managed a street race and knows absolutely nothing about the business.
d. Says the event surely will fail. Fact: Champ Car has staged over 100 successful street races in the past 30 years.
e. Says the “Legacy of street racing around this country is failure. They fail all over the United States and leave taxpayers holding the bill”  Fact: Champ Car has staged over 100 successful street races in the past 30 years.
f. Says street racing causes too much traffic congestion. Fact: Races are run on weekends when downtown street traffic is minimal.
g. Says Long Beach model has never been replicated. Fact: Can you say San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Monaco, Macau?
h. Says Long Beach is heavily subsidized by the City.  Fact: In fact the Grand Prix Association in Long Beach pays the city each year.
i. Says street racing can’t make money.  Fact: All Sperber's Open Wheel and Grand-Am races have lost money on his oval tracks that he has managed at Nazareth and Phoenix.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article


Other Editorials

Champ Car's Minardi 2-seater is the ultimate ride

For Alex Figge and PCM it's baptism by fire

A tribute to Alfred J. Cipolloni

Champ Car owners move to silence critics

Establishing a firm foundation for Champ Car

One-on-one with Champ Car President Steve Johnson

J.R. Hildebrand is one American going places in a hurry

What's new for Champ Car for 2007 - Part 1

Champ Car positions itself for international expansion

Paul Stoddart confirms interest in Champ Car

An inside look at Champ Car TV production

Ho-Pin Tung wants to be Champ Car's first Chinese driver

Stephen King explains Justin Wilson's novel Investor's Club

One-on-one with American sensation AJ Allmendinger

Champ Car moving forward without the IRL

One-on-one with Paul Tracy

Bruce Delahorne explains CDW's sponsorship in Champ Car

One-on-one with Justin Wilson

Champ Car bosses won't be bullied

Part 2: NASCAR/ISC get dirty in Phoenix, out to destroy Open Wheel

Part 1: NASCAR/ISC get dirty in Phoenix, out to destroy Open Wheel

The Rahals: Like father, like son

Why and IRL/Champ Car merger will be a big boost for the sport

Headless Open Wheel Racing appears doomed

Richard Lyons looking at Champ Car for his next challenge

We salute the champions of 2005

Is Jay Howard the next Ayrton Senna?

Interview with Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson

Otaru, Japan Champ Car race moving closer to reality

Champ Car's global appeal may ride on mimicking the Team Australia concept

Champ Car's Surfers Paradise race promoter "gets it"

Champ Car cements another brick in its foundation

Custom built Champ Cars and Indy Cars

Interview with RuSPORT Team President Jeremy Dale

Conspiracy Theory: What Indy was really all about

Why the Champ Car/IRL war must end

How a Champ Car and IRL merger might work

Will the battle for Long Beach destroy its Grand Prix?

Katherine Legge has her eyes set on Champ Car

Traveling Light Media - Just what the doctor ordered

Champ Car lays out bold 3-year plan

Champ Car's 2005 driver lineup vastly improved

Hunter-Reay anxious to get racing again with new team

That sucking sound you hear is NASCAR

Feud - The story of the murder of Mickey Thompson

Yes, Blame Tony and the CART defectors too

Interview with ALMS President Scott Atherton

2005 a foundation laying year for Champ Car

Kalkhoven talks Champ Car with AutoRacing1

Kalkhoven and Forsythe buy Cosworth from Ford

Carl Russo is bullish on Champ Car

Can this be Champ Car's next-generation car

Champ Car poised for major comeback

Champ Car Race Control - the 'Hot Seat Zone'

Open Wheel Racing is in serious need of consolidation

Champ Car South of the Border, An interview with Joe Heitzler

There is an easy way for Champ Car and the IRL to unify

From airport to race track, a race within a race

The 2-seater Car is one of Champ Car's biggest assets

Why Bernie Ecclestone could, and should, buy Champ Car now

Champ Car rocks the streets of Times Square in Manhattan

Why did Fernández leave Champ Car?  Follow the money....

Next Generation Champ Car: A call for F1 tires

Coming to America?  Interview with Ralph Firman Jr.

Open Wheel Racing defeats IRL - Champ Car Series to continue

Open Wheel Racing needs a win by OWRS - Part 2

The next generation Champ Cars - Part 2

Is CART next for Villeneuve?

New deal for CART may be better than first thought

The genius of one Bernard Ecclestone

CART Champ Cars, the next generation - Part 1

Details emerging on CART race in Seoul, South Korea

CART hits a Grand Slam in Mexico City.  Now What?

Top-10 Challenges facing new CART owners

CART can still race in Europe, but will they?

For CART, time is of the essence

Making sense of CART's situation

Push-to-Pass means no more parades for CART

An interview with CART's David Clare

What did Roger Penske really mean?

CART must differentiate itself - clearly

Why turbos make for superior street and race engines

For CART, it's now or never

Chicken or the Egg?

War of the worlds

What Bernie brings to CART

CART, Driven to where?

Is it really about CART vs. IRL?

If I were Bernie

The Champ Cars and St. Pete

An informal survey of the St. Pete race attendees

Artificial Dissemination

CART, F1 coming to grips with doing business in China

Cancel the Funeral

Why CART and F1 must, and will, share a common V-10 engine

Book Review: Autocourse 2002-2003 F1 yearbook

Does CART need Michael Andretti?

2002 CART TV ratings by the numbers

Now is the time for CART to redefine its ladder system

CART gets a taste of tifosi passion in Mexico

Love affair in Mexico

Making sense out of Bernie/CART rumors

Changing of the guard?

Mom, apple pie, CART and....Formula1?

Why CART and Bernie make perfect dance partners

Miami should be a CART and ALMS kickoff party

David slays Goliath in Miami

What to make of Gurney's F1 team

Taking it to the streets, why Miami is a war zone

CART, like the Phoenix, about to rise up from the ashes

There's more than handwriting on the wall.....and here's the concrete facts

Labor Day weekend 1952...A weekend I'll never forget

Team owners show support for CART

CART still may be in cards for Villeneuve

Bryan Herta, USA's next best chance for F1

Is Paul Ricard in CART's future?

CART's real attendance numbers

Is Brands Hatch suitable for Champ Cars?

An Unappealing Appeal, George reigns in GEORGE-town

A candid conversation with Chris Pook

More than meets the eye with CART's turbo move

It's time for CART to define its own future

Key upgrades at Road America

Back-Breaking work

The rebirth of CART

The hidden costs of Indy Car racing

CART's road and street circuits are clicking with the fans

Is it sport, or a P.T. Barnum show?

IRL at Fontana - a victim of friendly fire

CART's 2003 race venues #1 in the world

Meet the Gonzalez brothers

ISC is making enemies in Miami

Copyright 1999-2014  AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by the IRL., NASCAR, FIA,  Sprint, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.