Key IRL unification quotes
TONY GEORGE (Founder, Indy Racing League): "This is all about looking forward. At the risk of taking a glance back, it was just last fall on the anniversary of my grandfather's death that I was thinking to myself that it really had been 30 years since the sport of open-wheel racing had been truly unified. There were periods of years over the last 30 years where we worked more closely together and better together. But by and large, there were periods of years where we weren't so good at that.
"Last month when the calendar turned over to 2008, I was wondering to myself, 'Is it possible this could ever happen?' Lo and behold, I got a call that just made me feel really warm. I felt like this was perhaps going to be the best year of my 48 to have a chance to do something that's very important to me and very close to me, and that is to help bring about the unification of open-wheel racing.
"But it wouldn't have been possible without Kevin and Gerry (Forsythe), in particular, coming to me, expressing a desire to work with me, to do what's right and what's best for all of the drivers and the sponsors and, most importantly, the fans, the suppliers that make open-wheel racing in North America a great sport, something close to all of us.
"They've been a pleasure to work with in helping bring this about. I think we've all realized that there's a lot of challenges. The thing about having a long offseason, it's good and bad. You start thinking about things. Fortunately, it's long enough that we have a really good shot at bringing this together, albeit very late in the year. We have put our teams together to work on coming up with a good plan to integrate teams into one series, to integrate some events where we have the opportunity to fill some slots. We've got a lot of challenges that go along with doing all those things, but I think we're going to successfully overcome those.
"But this day is really all about the fans, the fans who supported open-wheel racing, in general, who supported Champ Car, who supported IndyCar through the years. There are some that have supported them individually, and there are some that have supported them collectively. To all those, we appreciate your support."
BRIAN BARNHART (President, Competition and Operations, Indy Racing League): (About how many teams may join the IndyCar Series) "It's going to be a little more telling when we have to do the engine deal because I think it has some more commitments associated with it. And then to join the Leader's Circle, to be eligible for the TEAM program, the Leader's Circle fee to join that consists of a full-season entry, Open Test fees, Open Test fuel, and full season fuel. So there's a significant fee associated with making the commitment to join the series. Of course at that point in time, you get a better feel for who is just saying 'I'm interested in a chassis' and making the commitment based around the Leader's Circle agreement and the engine agreement. There's additional costs associated with the engine agreement. We're going to do the base engine lease. They're obviously responsible for crash damage, over-revs, shipping, and all the ancillary costs associated with it. So when you have to make that commitment on the engine side and have to make that commitment on the Leader's Circle program, that's when we think we'll get a much better feel for the interest level."
"Our season entries, historically, when you combine season fuel, Open Test fees, Open Test fuel, and season entries, it's about $135,000. We're discounting the program to join the Leader's Circle and make a full commitment to $115,000 per car. That's all up front, so that will make the commitment for you to run for the entire season."
(About potential new venues) "If we are successful with the events that Tony and everybody has been referencing, between Edmonton and Australia, I think the conversations have gone great with those two venues. I think there's a strong possibility we'll get 18 events this season. I think one of the most important aspects to keep in mind around both Edmonton and Australia is that both of those events are pending FIA approval because they are international events and when we come to agreement on those, we'll have to make sure we go through the proper channels with the FIA. If those get added, we'll be at 18 races, and the $1.2 (million) will bump up to $1.3 (million)."
TERRY ANGSTADT (President, Commercial Division, Indy Racing League): (About league momentum) "We've got a couple (sponsorship announcements) in the queue to be announced very soon - major ones, and well-known brands. So we could just not be more excited. It's a lot of hard work ahead, but it's looking great.
"We have felt good about our direction and the momentum that we have built. I think if you give us three or four years, you will see dramatic differences. But I think you will also see immediate differences - bigger crowds, better TV ratings. We're very optimistic that this is going to have a pretty quick impact.
"I think there are lots of fans out there that are motorsports fans. And we all embrace them. And we've worked very hard at having very identifiable brand attributes. We're a lot faster. We have a higher technology and innovation platform. We have a more diverse driver lineup and run on more diverse venues. And we have a green platform - we're the only form of motorsports running on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol. So we like those assets. Those are unique, and a lot of other brands, and a lot of other consumer product companies can identify with those, we feel. We have a lot to sell, and we're a great value."