Champ Car and IRL can learn from the SIRIUS/XM Merger
by Mark Cipolloni

 October 19, 2007

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Recent News: Satellite Radio: Cowen Says 70%-Plus Chance Deal Closes

In a brief note previewing the upcoming earnings announcements for XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, Cowen analyst Tom Watts asserts that there is a “70%-plus chance” that the proposed merger of the two companies wins government approval.

Watts says a Department of Justice decision on the deal should come “relatively soon,” with the two companies in full compliance with the DoJ’s information requests. He says a ruling from the FCC should follow soon after.

Watts has Outperform ratings on both stocks, “even without M&A potential.” He thinks both companies can beat the market on free cash flow potential alone. He thinks both companies low-balled subscriber growth estimates for 2007, “setting the stage for outperformance in the second half.” If you have to pick just one, Watts prefers XM, based on stronger OEM relationships with automakers, and a better relative valuation.

XM reports earnings on October 25; Sirius on October 30.

So why do I bring this up?

Maybe the Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League should again take a look at what the two satellite radio companies are doing.  There are a lot of things that are common in both cases;

1. SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM Radio both provide radio, entertainment, sports, news/talk content.

Champ Car and IRL both provide great open wheel racing at various venues.

2. Both Satellite Radio companies spend millions on advertising, marketing and satellite hardware.

Champ Car and IRL do advertise, however very little.

3. Again, both Satellite Radio companies spend money on personnel, talent and Corporate offices.

Both Open Wheel series have the same type of personnel, driver talent and separate Corporate offices.

4. SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM both have personalities and or content that have helped sell their services. (SIRIUS has Howard Stern, NFL, NBA, NASCAR and 100% commercial free music). (XM has MLB, Oprah, Opie and Anthony, the Golf Channel, IRL and NHL).

Champ Car and IRL have premier events. (CCWS; Australia, Long Beach, Cleveland, All Canadian/European Races, Mexico, Vegas. Tracy, Rahal, Wilson, Servia, Junqueira, Power, Tag and Legge). (IRL; Indy 500, Detroit, St. Pete, Mid Ohio. Kanaan, Castroneves, Dixon, Andretti and Patrick). Just to name a few.

5. SIRIUS and XM compete with other things, not just with each other. (Terrestrial radio, MP3/iPod players, CD, HD radio).

Champ Car and IRL compete against NASCAR, ALMS and F1.

So if you take a look at the whole picture.

Open wheel racing can capture their fans back if both sides can put their “egos” away and make racing Champ Cars/Indy Cars what it once used to be. Both series if combined would save millions of dollars on personnel (sales, marketing, communication etc), marketing and advertising coverage in print and/or television.

You would have the absolute best drivers in both series competing against each other and a larger car count. Sure, you’ll lose some teams and drivers, but haven’t both sides already experienced this already?

Look at what IRL started with in the beginning…..and look at the teams that bailed on Champ Car and went with the IRL. Then you have the top teams at CCWS that have stayed and teams that have come and gone.

Open wheel racing is being dominated by the NASCAR folks. Why continue to have the open wheel series compete with each other when it can and should dominate racing….period? 

Look again at what each open wheel series has; Indy 500, Long Beach, Australia, Canadian races, Belle Isle. We’re already going overseas for races right? You want Corporate Sponsorships to come back to support 1 series.

Australians get it here (in Surfers)….they’ve done this event right since day 1. The Canadians still love their racing. Long Beach is always a Southern California party. You can’t tell me guys like Kanaan, Castroneves and Dixon miss coming to these Champ Car events. And I know that Champ Car drivers would love to have another shot at winning the 500.

For those fans who have never experienced the Lexmark Indy 300 here in Surfers Paradise….you don’t know what you’re missing.  Four days of racing, fan events, etc.  This country gets what this event is all about……Paul Tracy said it best at Thursday’s press conference when asked about the state of Champ Car “maybe this series is taking on a little bit of water, but I’ll be here and the last one with the pail emptying the ship”. Tracy is Champ Car’s best spokesperson…..maybe they should try utilizing him to their full potential.

Maybe everyone should take a huge step back and look at the state of open wheel racing and see where both sides can “compromise” to save open wheel racing. It won’t happen overnight…..but this has to be looked at again. Sure cars will have to change, engines will have to be changed, people will lose jobs, new people will come in and the right people will stay and make open wheel racing successful again.

The split has been all about control of the sport.  Well guess what guys, you soon won't have anything to control because there won't be anything left.  It's time to put the control issue aside. 

One phrase I like to use is "When in doubt, follow the money."  A similar one is "When in doubt, just do what's right."

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.