Ganassi eyes Champ Car UPDATE #15 Perhaps more evidence that Ganassi is not going to enter Champ Car - we hear that Target and Ganassi are looking at putting Dixon and Wheldon (Dixon's rumored new teammate) in eleven of 14 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races in 2006 since the IRL season is so short.
10/20/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Walker Racing tested Diaz a couple of years ago and he was very good… on pace with Manning and only a matter of days in the car. Anyway, that was backed in large part by Carlos Slim and his various business partners with his company Telmex. Walker had Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Telcel (Telmex mobile phone division). Now that Carlos is in partnership with Chip on the Grand Am program (he owns CompUSA as well), it may be very likely that Diaz is trying to convince Slim to put something together for him. It will be very easy for Chip to “borrow” a car, as Forsythe and PKV have cars that could be used, and it may be a better deal if Chip and them did a swap, as Chip's cars probably have less miles on them.
10/20/05 One issue preventing Ganassi from using his Lolas was the fact that they had to be sent back to Lola to be retrofitted from Toyota engine mount points to Ford Cosworth. A costly and time-consuming proposition given Lola is all the way in England. There are still rumors floating around in the Mexican media that Ganassi is trying to borrow a Lola to run Diaz in Mexico City, however, we don't believe the rumors.
10/17/05 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. According to this Indy Star article, Chip Ganassi said his Indianapolis-based team will not compete in the Champ Car World Series in 2006. He confirmed that he is talking with Honda about switching to that engine manufacturer for next season. Team Penske, another Toyota team, is doing likewise.
10/11/05 Scott Dixon has told a reader (who asked to remain anonymous) at last weekend's A1GP race at EuroSpeedway that he doesn't expect Chip Ganassi to move his team to Champ Car, but if Chip were to run in both the IRL and Champ Car and he had to pick one or the other, he definitely would choose Champ Car.
10/10/05 It's interesting that this article in Mexico says that at least 22 Champ Cars will start in Mexico City. If true, one wonders if one or two will be from the Ganassi stable. However, Chips Lola's were never Ford powered. The mounting is different. The tubs would have to be converted, it takes 4-6 weeks and can only be done at Lola. The same for the four cars Honda owns. Two are in their museum.
10/05/05 This may explain why the Ganassi Champ Cars were rumored to be getting the latest brake upgrades. According to MsA Chip Ganassi Racing will be on the grid in Mexico with two cars, which support the rumors going around, but we wonder if MsA is confusing his two Grand-Am cars with Champ Cars. TELMEX is Ganassi's sponsor in Grand-Am and a sponsor of the Champ Car race And Luis Diaz, a Ganassi Grand-Am driver ran the Mexico City race for Fernandez a couple of years ago. Would he race a Champ Car on the same weekend or will Scott Dixon and a fast recovering Ryan Briscoe get the nod?
10/01/05 We are hearing that indeed Ganassi's old Champ Car Lolas are being fitted with the latest running gear, i.e. brakes, etc. We doubt they would do that just for show cars. 09/30/05 Adding more fuel to the Ganassi back to Champ Car rumors is this spy photo of Target Chip Ganassi’s transporter in Champ Car's shop (Pictured right), presumably picking up some Champ Car equipment for a return to the series. Mark C. 09/28/05 Hearing today that at least Scott Dixon, if not both Ganassi drivers, will run at least six races in Champ Car in 2006 and the team is looking at a full-time return in 2007 when the new Champ Car comes on board. 09/27/05 Hearing that Chip took his Lola that he had on display at Derek Daly's Las Vegas Racing Academy recently. Also, this photo obtained inside Chip's shop shows a guy (an employee at the shop) on the right pointing, telling some people how they are going to reorganize the rack once they take a few cars down."
Lolas are on the left (2 rows not shown), Reynards on the right. Bottom line, Chip has Lolas, so the rumblings of Chip running Champ Car races next year is a real possibility. We're also hearing Target may have some influence in Chip's future open wheel direction. 09/23/05 Hearing yet again that Chip Ganassi will leave the IRL before long.....that's the paddock gossip, despite what Chip says.
09/12/05 Seen at Chicagoland - Michael Andretti in the Target Chip Ganassi business unit having an animated discussion with Chip Ganassi. Not sure what the conversation was about, but one has to wonder if it has anything to do with this rumor. If Ganassi were to quit the IRL for any reason, be it Champ Car, or to just focus on NASCAR, the loss of three cars from the IRL paddock will suffer. With Mo Nunn, a road racer, possibly staying on with Ganassi, and Ganassi tired of spending so much money on replacing destroyed IndyCars, one has to wonder if he has the stomach for it much longer. A switch back to Champ Car would make all his crew members happy we hear.
08/23/05 If you believe internet forums, some crew that has been with Ganassi's IRL team from the CART days are being let go and it appears unlikely that the team will run a 3-car operation much longer. The same gossip says Briscoe will be let go after this year and Scott Dixon is looking for a Champ Car ride. Hmm.....
08/22/05 The paddock talk was that Roger Penske is worried about Chip Ganassi going back to Champ Car and was going to have a talk with the ol Chipster. But Ganassi, who hasn't won an IRL race in two years, denied any interest. "That was Jimmy Vasser saying I was coming back," said Ganassi. "I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying right here." Of course he also told some other people he was exploring his "best option" for 2006. SPEEDTV.com 08/21/05 SPEED News Sunday reported that Chip Ganassi is looking to switch from the IRL to Champ Car because he wants to be competitive next year and he does not feel the Toyota engine will be competitive in the IRL next year. Chevy is gone and there is still speculation that no one will want to run Toyotas next year because of Honda's domination so they will be gone too. It's clear that Chip Ganassi is finally coming to his senses after seeing two more of his cars mangled against the oval track concrete walls where horsepower is everything.
AutoRacing1.com hears that other teams and drivers are contacting Champ Car sensing that is where the future is under the leadership of Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi. Cheever Racing will be in big trouble when Red Bull signs up in Champ Car. If they lose Red Bull it's doubtful the team can afford to continue in the IRL.
Then of course there's Honda. With no one to beat, they are not going to feel the need to prop up teams with subsidies. If they pull the plug or cut back significantly, some of the 3 and 4 car IRL Honda teams are going to have to scale back. The next several months will be interesting.