How can IRL and Champ Car merge?

UPDATE In light of recent events regarding the (again) potential merger, I have a few thoughts I wish to share. First, many of the people I've spoken with, myself included, are extremely excited by the direction the Champ Car World Series is heading. Specifically, the spec chassis, engine, tires combination and the future creation of more "nation" teams (a la Team Australia) is laying the foundation for the creation of the first true auto racing world championship series, pinning nation verse nation to do battle under nearly identical parameters. One could easily insert the word "Olympics" to the title of this format, which sends the mind spinning when contemplating the potential this format could create in terms of marketing, competition, manufacturer involvement, sponsorship, and nation rivalry.

Casual fan recognition of teams and drivers is imperative for this to work. If a merger is completed there will be a huge influx of American teams. How will they be recognized when they all can't be Team America? Easy. Imagine yourself as a casual observer flipping through the channels when you come upon a future Champ Car race. You are not familiar with the drivers or teams and don't know who to cheer for… have no connection to any of them. Then, the scoring monitor comes across and reads: Team American-Newman/Hass is P1, followed by Team Brazil-Fittipaldi in P2, Team America-Penske and Team America-Ganassi are P3 and P4, followed by Team Australia-Green… last place is Team America-George. Instantly, you know who you want to cheer for. The drivers may not be American, but you know who to cheer for and the sponsors know who they should sponsor. What sponsor doesn't want to be associated with Team America? Even if Team America-Vasser wins the race and the sponsor for Team America-George ends up last, most customers will not recognize the difference and will only notice the Team America part. Hence, the sponsor still benefits if another Team America wins, even if their team finishes last. The same can be said of other nation teams, especially when the Champ Car World Series comes to the race held in their country. I can only hope that this brilliant idea doesn't fall to the wayside in a merger scenario, but embraced. D Hughes, Cincinnati, OH

05/24/05 A reader asks, Dear, I read on your Hot News page that Tony George finally admits some sort of merger of Champ Car and the IRL is required. But the IRL has 18 races and Champ Car will soon have 15 or 16 next year. That is a total of 34 or so races a year. I know of a few weaker races that can be dropped, but how can you force these two together? Plus I think you will see redundant staff get laid off. Joe Mychuck. St. Louis, MO. Dear Joe, In this article we laid out what we believe is the ONLY way to merge the two series and avoid the pitfalls you point out. Brian Barnhart says there must be just one series. We believe our proposal accomplishes that by having one governing body rowing in the same direction, but two divisions with playoffs just like all stick and ball sports have. We believe when they sit down and talk to iron out the details of a merger, they will find our proposal the only workable solution at this point in time. Mark C.

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