International Race of Champions?

UPDATE #3 [Editor's Note: The following article from GrandPrix.Com shows what a sham the IROC is. The Race of Champions held in Paris' Stade de France last month probably couldn't use "International" in their event name so as not to be confused with the American IROC. The Paris event fielded many truly international star drivers, including Jeff Gordon.] The baseball World Series is a contest limited to teams from the United States and Canada as it is assumed that no-one outside Major League Baseball could win. Attempts to allow Japanese or Latin American teams compete have, so far, failed. It is a very similar story with the International Race of Champions which ignores the fact that there is motorsport beyond the shores of the United States.

This year's field consists of Mark Martin (who has never won the NASCAR title), NASCAR's Nextel Cup winner Tony Stewart; Busch series winner Martin Truex Jr; Craftsman Truck champion Ted Musgrave plus the World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and Frank Kimmel, who has won the ARCA Re/Max Series. GrandAm supplies Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, who won the title last year while the field is padded out with IRL's Sam Hornish and Scott Sharp, plus NASCAR's Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth and Max Papis, the only man to have experience (albeit brief) in F1 back in 1995.

When IROC began back in 1974 the series included F1 drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Denny Hulme and early competitors included Ronnie Peterson, Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Alan Jones, Clay Regazzoni, John Watson and others but since the 1980s the only men racing have been those competing in America. Back in 1990 Martin Brundle gave the Good Old Boys a shock by beating them at Cleveland and last year Sebastien Bourdais gave them another taste of defeat at the Texas Motor Speedway, beating the oval specialists on an oval!

This year there are no date clashes this year between Formula 1 and the Crown Royal International Race of Champions series but that does not mean that there is much international interest in the grandly-named US series designed to discover which driver from a selection of different categories is the best. This year IROC will include a road course for the first time in 14 years but we have heard of no attempt to allow non-American champions to take part.

01/17/06 We already had this rumor as 'fact' but it was confirmed with today's IROC lineup announcement – see Hot News page.

01/10/06 There was interest in having Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy — as well as possibly Oriol — participate in the IROC series this season but unfortunately there is a conflict with Champ Car's season opener in LB and the Texas round, which Bourdais won in 2005. The two-hour time difference (PT to CT) was insurmountable despite having the drivers depart immediately after qualifying, traveling in a private airplane and landing next to the track in Alliance. All parties wanted to make this happen but it was impossible for the drivers to get to the track in time for the race. Champ Car even planned on moving their Friday qualifying back to help make up the time distance, and IROC tried to help them but in the end, Texas Motor Speedway (Eddie Gossage) would not let IROC move their race start to help Champ Car. It would have been great for the drivers to compete in this event, and now more so with the announcement of adding a road course race for the first time in years. Champ Car drivers are more familiar with road courses and are at a disadvantage with all ovals on the schedule.

01/10/06 There has been some speculation that Paul Tracy might join Sebastien Bourdais in IROC this year. We didn't think Champ Car would have any participation in this year's IROC because of a conflict with the Long Beach race and the Texas IROC race. Perhaps they have worked something out such that the race and qualifying will be at night and the drivers will jet over to TMS and back.

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