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DATE News (chronologically)
02/11/07
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Alarmed reader  UPDATE #4 A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1.Com, I find it necessary to reply to Mr. Madison's assertions concerning Champ Car.
 
First, no fan of open wheel racing in the U.S. should, in my opinion, take ANYTHING published by the "Star" on the subject of open wheel as anything other than IRL generated propaganda. Also in my opinion the "Star" hasn't published anything unbiased since Robin Miller was given the Hulman Family Trust two-step to the door.

Second, BOTH major open wheel series are equally mired in the mud of a motorsports marketplace that remains enamored with all things NASCAR. Nothing is perfect for either series. Where would the IRL be if Andretti-Green decided to take all that sponsorship and race elsewhere? Third, to imply ride-buying is unique to Champ Car is completely disingenuous. What has the Indy 500 boiled down to? When corporate America begins to recognize they are wasting millions trying to reach consumers that tuned out of NASCAR two seasons ago (and no number of Juan Pablo's fans is going to bring them back) and begin to once again invest in open wheel then and only then will the ride-buying cease.
 
The facts that plague the open wheel business model have not changed: road racing and oval track racing no longer mix. The split fragmented the marketplace and I doubt the much debated reunification of the two series could ever change that. The fact that road racing is the global standard and oval racing is all about "Red Necks" and NASCAR is indisputable and this sad fact has forced the IRL, once again, to abandon their revisionist history business plan du jour, as evidenced by their thirst to add road racing to their schedule.
 
The bottom line, Mr. Madison, is my money is on Champ Car’s long term survival as Champ Car is supported by true fans of motor racing while the IRL is dependant on a handful of "Indy 500" fans spending some money on a couple of the support races that fill out the IRL's annual schedule of inferior, boring, dumbed down, 100% throttle racing.
 
If Kevin and Tony could simply agree on a common engine/chassis formula the fans, the sponsors and the marketplace could take care of the rest. Tony knows this. And it must scare him to death. J.N. Anderson, Shaker Heights, Ohio

02/11/07 Another reader writes, I was reading the Indy Star's latest Q&A section with Curt Cavin and it's quite apparent that many fans and casual observers in Indianapolis get the feeling that Champ Car's collapse is in evitable. As we start the 4th of Kevin Kalkhoven's 5-year plan I see no signs of the series turning around. Few sponsors and even fewer big name drivers. I suspect the 5-year plan is to make Champ Car profitable by then, and if not KK will try to sell the series off at pennies on the dollar or just bankrupt it. Rather than merge I suspect Tony George is just waiting them out - banking on the fact that when Champ Car collapses he will have his pick of teams and races. When is AutoRacing1 going to start painting the picture about Champ Car the way it really exists, because from where I sit these guys just don't get it. James Madison

Dear James, Champ Car president Steve Johnson has gone on record a number of times saying lots of good announcements are coming, so we'll have to give him and Champ Car the benefit of the doubt up until the opening race of the season. There is now exactly two months before the opening race, so there is some time. By now we know who is driving where in most other race series, including Atlantics, but year in and year out this continues to be the struggle in Champ Car largely because they are so dependent on ride-buyers and who can bring the most money in the 11th hour. Clearly to everyone this is not the way it should work. As for Kevin Kalkhoven pulling the plug at the end of his 5-year plan, we can't comment on that as no one is privy to an exit strategy if there is one. Mark C. 

02/08/07 This SPEEDTV.com article underscores the sorry state of affairs of all USA based racing series except NASCAR.  Based on the numbers it is clear NASCAR is a monopoly and unless the Federal government breaks them up under the Sherman Anti-trust laws, the other series will continue to struggle.  They grab all the sponsor dollars because they have the TV ratings and the personnel to dominate the sponsor money spent in racing and short of them making some very strategic errors, will continue their monopoly position for a very long time. 

02/08/07 Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Perhaps you ought to reword your reply to your "Alarmed Reader". You say: "The dearth of sponsorship for open wheel racing since the split has left teams scratching for every penny. With no money to pay drivers, teams have no one to announce as their driver and in fact are praying for ride-buyers to come in and save them in this the 11th hour."

Well, if the 11th hour for open wheel racing was last September 10th then I'd agree with you. That's when the '06 IndyCar season finished. As the IRL teams get set to return to racing next month, stop for a moment and take a look at the entry list. 15 of the cars, that's FIFTEEN, are being piloted by the same drivers that ran them last year. And of the top 10 in points, only ONE of them is starting the '07 season in a different ride, and that's Danica Patrick. So, counting the extended break, those IndyCar teams and sponsors have had SIX MONTHS to CONTINUE to get to know the 15 that are representing their product.

As one of its prime promotional tickets (as the only American besides Alex Figge, son of a champion and Indy 500 winner, and talent in his own right), what has Graham Rahal been doing to promote Champ Car over the winter? Oh yes. He's not signed yet. Please don't try and defend that. It's the dumbest thing ever. What's he waiting for? A Ferrari F1 deal? A rookie season at Newman/ Haas alongside a triple champion who seems almost certain to be moving to F1 for 2008, leaving him to lead one of the best teams in Champ Car. It's the equivalent of having a 21 hand in Blackjack, and deciding whether or not to take an extra card. Why is he not confirmed? Name Withheld

Dear Anonymous, You make a valid argument.  While Champ Car has seen many improvements this year (new and better venues, better domestic TV package, new cars) when it come to sponsorship the series is a complete and utter failure, and it is this lack of sponsorship and its inability to seal deals that has led to most of the driver lineup to remain up in the air yet again this year.  The pressure is on newly hired Next Marketing to help Champ Car and its teams land sponsorship.  Mark C. 

02/08/07 Unbelievable that it is less than 60 days before the first Champ Car race and the promoters don't know who the drivers are. How do we expect the promoters to market the race when they don't know who will be in the drivers seat? Tim DeCesaro

Dear Tim, A valid concern and most people connected with the series share the same concerns. The dearth of sponsorship for open wheel racing since the split has left teams scratching for every penny. With no money to pay drivers, teams have no one to announce as their driver and in fact are praying for ride-buyers to come in and save them in this the 11th hour. The majority of the sponsorship is monopolized by NASCAR who understand that you must promote and sell your athletes. Sports are all about the people, and companies who sponsor sport teams want to know who it is that is going to represent their product and meet and greet their corporate guests. Mark C.

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