Latest Champ Car News and Commentary

Kalkhoven defeats George again - gets Long Beach

by Mark Cipolloni
 May 23, 2005

Kevin Kalkhoven, Tony George's worse nightmare

Before Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi formed OWRS and bought the remains of CART, Tony George was winning one battle after another as he stripped the CART paddock dry of teams, drivers, sponsors and manufacturers.  It was so bad for CART they ended up in bankruptcy and Tony George was there to try and step in, buy key remains and drive the final nail in CART's coffin.

Then in stepped Kalkhoven and company and Tony George had a battle on his hands.

First Kalkhoven outmaneuvered George in bankruptcy court and the judge pretty much tossed Tony George and his team out of court.  Tony tried to shut CART down when in fact the case was in Chapter 11, not Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and hence the judge wanted a plan to continue the business.  Kalkhoven and his team delivered and Tony George went home empty handed (he tried to buy key races like Long Beach and the Cosworth engines).

Next up was the sale of Cosworth by Ford Motor Company. Tony George tried to buy Cosworth through Chip Ganassi, presumably to shut Champ Car down by taking away its 2.65-liter turbo engines, but once again Kalkhoven and company won the deal.  That was strike two for Tony George.

Now today we learned that Kevin Kalkhoven was successful in defeating Tony George for the third straight time.  Tony George wanted Long Beach but Kevin Kalkhoven was successful in buying the event from Dover Motorsports.

By doing so Champ Car's future at Long Beach is secured, which is what the fans wanted, what the city of Long Beach wanted and of course what the entire Champ Car paddock wanted.

The details of the deal were not disclosed.  The France family and the Hulman-George family own their key events so it makes sense for OWRS (owners of Champ Car) to own their key event - Long Beach. 

As I understand it,  Jim Michaelian, chief executive of the Grand Prix Assn., will remain, as will his staff.  "Now that we know who we'll be working for, it's time to roll up our sleeves and start planning for next year's race," Michaelian told the LA Times. "It's a relief to know that the feeling of uncertainty about the future of the race is over." Said Kalkhoven, "My experience with the management of the Long Beach Grand Prix is, they've done a first-class job and certainly we would like to work with them." 

With this victory the tide appears to be turning decidedly in Champ Car's favor as the media and fans are beginning to sense that Champ Car is here to stay despite Tony George's not so veiled attempts to eliminate it.

Meanwhile many people in the industry, including now Honda, are sensing Tony George isn't going to win this war, maybe he's the wrong horse to ride. If the sport of Indy Car Racing is to be saved, it's going to take a merger, and a fair way to do that, a first step, was outlined in this recent article.

Tony George has been the obstacle in every merger attempt, and with Champ Car getting stronger with each victory over George, and each new major race venue added, some are starting to ask if they should merge with the IRL at all, especially if Honda and Toyota both follow Chevy out of the IRL as rumored.  Because Honda and Toyota spend so much in the IRL, if they leave, besides the Indy 500, what will the IRL have left?

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