IRL and Champ Car teams to partner UPDATE #6 Chip Ganassi said in yesterday's IRL media teleconference announcing Dan Wheldon being added to his team, when asked about this rumor - "I think you've heard me speak about my idea has been put forth out there about some car sharing in one or two races with some Champ Car teams, and those discussions are ongoing. There's news to come yet on that front."
11/27/05 We are downgrading this rumor to speculation. It appears now that the biggest obstacle to the partnering idea is the lack of Honda engines for the Champ Car teams because Honda will probably have to supply the entire IRL grid in 2006, something it did not plan on until 2007.
11/20/05 Hearing through our sources that this Ganassi teaming concept is still alive. A man who thinks exactly like we and many others do, Peter DeLorenzo of Autoextremist.com, recently said at a presentation at the SCCA/Milwaukee Region Annual Banquet, "I believe that what Tony George has done to major league open-wheel racing in this country is a complete travesty. In an effort to gain control over the sport, the scion of the Hulman family used his control over the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to force a split in major league open-wheel racing that continues to leave the sport in shambles today.
"That said, however, I believe the Indianapolis 500 is still the greatest single motor race in the world and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the greatest race track in the world - sharing that title with the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife - which is the greatest road-racing course in the world.
"I believe that the split in major league open-wheel racing in this country set off a chain of events that played right into the hands of the France family in Daytona Beach, Florida - which helped propel NASCAR to the popularity that it enjoys today. And I predict that, short of a miracle, the sport of open-wheel racing in this country will never recover" [Exactly what we have been saying for years]
Perhaps if Tony George cannot bring himself to do the logical thing then perhaps some of the team owners will. After all in the final analysis they are the powerhouse behind motorsports and maybe finally they will stand up and be counted. Perhaps teams pairing up for road races might be the future, at least that is what we hear is still being batted around.
Road and street races are not as expensive as ovals, which tend to result in bone breaking, race car destroying, high-speed accidents. Teaming up on certain road and street circuits may make the most sense for all involved. The future of major league open-wheel racing in the USA may depend on it.
10/26/05 This SPEEDTV.com article gives a bit more detail to this story that we broke several weeks ago. We received a number of emails and saw a forum discussion thread doubting the validity of this rumor. We will re-state our policy, we do not make up rumors, we just report them.
10/12/05 Another reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this. It seems to be just a little more than coincidence that the day after Champ Car comes out with an absolutely huge announcement about the future chassis and engine, (what a HUGE boost this will be for Champ Car), that all of a sudden Champ Car teams are willing to work with IRL teams to run cars in both series. This smells like a rotten Tony George rat trying to cling on to some glimmer of hope for his dying series. YES! IT IS DYING! Every single rumor that has been making the rounds over the last 3 months have all been about IRL teams, drivers and sponsors looking at Champ Car, not the other way around. Do people actually think that current Champ Car teams are going to put their drivers in the IRL's crapwagons after what happened to Bruno this past May. Plus, Champ Car has a growing schedule that includes 2 races in the month of May starting next year, with many other possible venues in the cards. This is all a desperate play by Tony G. and the many people who foolishly followed his BLIND VISION. They just simply can't face up to the fact that they all made a huge mistake. I guess hindsight would truly be a great thing. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake MI
10/12/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1, I am intrigued by the rumor that there are discussions between some Champ Car and IRL teams to partner to supply cars and equipment for various races in each series.
Do you take this as a sign that if management on both sides are unable to broker a unification deal, owners from both series will work with each other to be on the grid for the respective series most attractive races? Will either side's ownership have a problem with this, or will they welcome more cars on the grid?
Is it possible that a 'Super 6 Series' (Long Beach, Indy, St. Pete, a Canada race, etc.) could evolve from this cross-pollination? If so, this could be a win-win for both series, yet both series could still maintain their unique identities.
If the league owners are unable to get things together, can we rely on the team owners to do this? As a fan of American OW racing, I would love to see this. It definitely beats the current alternative. It will be interesting watching this rumor play out. John Farney Milwaukee, WI
Dear John, Wouldn't it be ironic if the team owners were able to do what the series owners were not? With that said, this cross-pollination will not be easy and the teams will need to take out insurance in case they destroy someone else's car. It's a pretty sad scenario that there are two separate series in the first place. If Honda pulls the plug on their IRL program, by default it will force a merger. As long as Honda stays in the game, Tony George won't be inclined to merge and the war will go on. Honda has tried to get the two sides to merge, but ultimately their actions could make it happen anyway. Honda leaving won't be good for open wheel racing, but this war has had many casualties. Mark C.10/12/05 We have it on good word that there are discussions going on whereby a group of IRL teams would partner with a group of Champ Car teams to cross-pollinate. The Champ Car teams would supply cars and equipment for the IRL teams at Champ Car races, and vice-versa. This would allow IRL teams to get into Champ Car markets that their sponsors want to be in, and vice-versa. Examples would be the Indy 500 and Long Beach Grand Prix.