Highlights of IRL merger press conference UPDATE General remarks and answers to questions posed by the media during a news conference to confirm and celebrate unification of open-wheel racing in the United States.
Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven
"I want to join Tony (George) in expressing my satisfaction about what is happening in terms of the unification. Tony and I have actually talked on and off I would guess for, what, four years. It's been a long and hard road to be able to get here, but we are here.
"I think that the winners today are the fans, the teams, the drivers, and indeed the potential that we have to be able to grow the sport over the next few years. I've said many times that in itself, unification isn't some sort of magic bullet to be able to get us forward. It's going to take an awful lot of hard work. This is something that is going to still require a huge amount of work, but I think the long-term potential is extremely exciting for everybody associated with this."
About the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix
"I'm also looking forward to being able to bring the series to Long Beach. This year is going to be an exciting time a we're going to actually have our final Champ Car race in one respect for the DP01s prior to moving entirely over onto the Dallaras. I think the combination of the '500' with all its stature and Long Beach with its 34 years of history now is going to be two anchor points of what will be an incredibly successful and interesting series."
Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George
About additional races and moving forward
"It's been a very rapid timeline we've had to keep here. We really only reached agreement a few days ago. The discussions have been going on over the last few weeks. But there were a number of elements we felt we could really bring to enhance the value of the 2008 season for all the teams and sponsors and the fans, and that is trying to add two or three of the Champ Car events that we had openings with some flexibility to our calendar.
"Kevin outlined how the Long Beach event will be the Champ Car finale. In addition to that, we're going to make an effort to add Edmonton and Australia to this year's calendar. Both of those events, the details surrounding them, are yet to be worked out. But we feel good that we'll have a good plan for that."
About team transition
"I think they're genuinely pleased with the package offered. Certainly it creates a lot of logistical challenges. We've gotten a great deal of support from all the IRL teams currently to help try to bring this about. We're all really excited about this opportunity. It's such a tremendous opportunity for all of us who have been a part of open-wheel racing, and I know there's been some suggestion that there's some reluctance or reticence about the amalgamation of these two series. I guarantee you that our race team (Vision Racing), the Rahal Letterman race team, the Target Chip Ganassi race team, everybody is excited about working with Champ Car teams that are coming over, to help them transition.
"Our job is to make everyone feel warm and welcome and, as always, never run a season apart."02/27/08 The IRL, with representation from Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven, addressed the media today at Homestead Miami Speedway to answer question about the merger between Champ Car and the IRL. We will have the full transcript later. Here are the highlights:
Opening remarks from Tony George. He stated that Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe approached him to do what is best for the sport and merge the two series.
Kalkhoven thanked the large crowd for turning out, which included just about all the team owners and many drivers and suppliers. He said the winners are fans, teams, drivers, and to grow the sport. He thanked Dick Eidswick and Gerald Forsythe as well as Al Speyer. He also announced a change of his team name to KV racing (no more P for Dan Pettit) and that they would be entering cars in the IRL starting immediately.
Kalkhoven confirmed that the final Champ Car race for the Panoz DP01 will be Long Beach.
To facilitate the transition to the Dallara for the Champ Car teams, the IRL will provide each team 2 cars and $1.2 M if they run the full season. Each team entry will get 1 new and 1 used chassis for each Champ Car team. 14 new Dallaras will be delivered by May
Tony George confirmed that Edmonton and Surfers along with Long Beach will be on the 2008 schedule but all the details have yet to be worked out. Long Beach will run the same weekend as Motegi.
All IRL race teams are excited about working with Champ Car teams to help them with transition.
NHLR will team with Rahal Letterman Racing
KV Racing will team with Ganassi Racing
No other pairings were announced
IRL will acquire intellectual property and the record books of both series will be combined into one.
The IRL is buying Champ Car's medical transporter and will take on some of the safety staff.
Long Beach will have a full field of DP01's. All CC teams will be there.
Some drivers might come back from Motegi and jump in a DP01 speculated Kalkhoven. They can do this because of the time difference.
There was 100% Champ Car team attendance at Monday's orientation meeting.
8 to 12 cars will come over from Champ Car possibly starting at Homestead.
The 2009 schedule will be a clean sheet of paper. Off-season too long Tony feels. He is looking forward to 20-race season.
Tony was asked about the mix of races - He foresees 20 races 50% ovals and 50% street and road courses. International opportunities will be looked at. Engine configuration is open. Turbos may or may not be a part of that. Ethanol may be part of mix.
Having all the two series together will be huge for the Indy 500 centennial celebration in 2009.
Kalkhoven skirted the question on what role Cosworth may have, if any.