Overheard at Watkins Glen – Surfers and New Jersey

UPDATE #3 Still hearing that the Surfers race is 50/50, and it got worse last weekend in Watkins Glen despite the IRL putting on their best face, with the issue being who is paying for transporting all the cars over to Australia by plane. The original contract with Champ Car was 18 cars plus spares and equipment. Now with 26 cars plus spares and equipment an extra plane is needed. Add in the transportation and hotel costs for the added personnel and the costs mount. With the big gap in the schedule between Chicagoland and Australia shipping everything by boat becomes an option and we hear it is being investigated.

It may be that only 18 cars will go with some of the bigger teams, who we hear are complaining the loudest about not going, and who do not need the 1/18th portion of the $1.3 million in guaranteed prize money, will just stay home bringing the starting grid down in size from 26 to 18. If Penske, Ganassi and AGR stay home that's a loss of 8 cars – putting the field at 18, but losing the sports biggest stars won't go over well with the race promoter.

All rather silly really, as next year the race will be a points paying event so who is going to pick up the added cost in future years. If the race does not happen this year because of this cost dispute, we suspect IndyCar will never go to Australia.

07/04/08 The IRL's Terry Angstadt told AutoRacing1.com that they are weeks away from formally announcing a multi-year deal for the Surfers race. This year's race will be a non-points paying race but next year it will count for points. All the teams must go or they will be paid less in prize money for the season because each signed a contract to run all 18 races, and that includes Surfers. This year's race will be October 26th. Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen

07/04/08 Hearing that the Australia race will come off, but only 26 cars will be allowed to go. One has to wonder – if the title is decided before Chicagoland and, therefore, Chicagoland cannot get the PR push it would get if it was the title clinching race, that they may relent and let Australia be a points paying race.

07/04/08 An unconfirmed rumor going around the Watkins Glen paddock today is that some of the big Indy Car teams (you can guess who, I'm sure) do not want to travel to the October Surfers Paradise race because 1) It was not in their budget and 2) the last points paying race will be Chicagoland so why bother going. Apparently the France family (ISC) that owns Chicagoland does not want to relent on Chicago being the last race of the year. Further speculation is that like Long Beach, Surfers could be run as a Champ Car race, but this time would be a non-points paying race. We also hear that the Surfers budget may not pay for all 26 to 28 cars to fly across the Pacific so who is going to pay for the extra cars this year? After Chicago there will be plenty of laid off IndyCar crew members that could be picked up by the defunct Champ Car teams to help in Surfers and many will clamor to go to beautiful Surfer Paradise. All speculation for now, but stay tuned and we will try to find out more for you……..

We also heard another interesting rumor in the Watkins Glen paddock, that the ALMS is not satisfied with the facilities at Lime Rock Park despite the recent repaving. Besides the track is too narrow and too short for their cars. We hear they are talking to NJ Motorsports Park about a race in 2009 and we hear representatives from ALMS will be at the track on Labor Day weekend to see how things go for the Grand-Am race there. Mark Cipolloni reporting from Watkins Glen

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