Open wheel split started by Tony George caused Toyota to look to NASCAR (Update)

UPDATE A reader writes, Dear, Given the destruction to their bread and butter noted below, I am surprised the Hulman George family still allows Tony George in the paddock. Most families would have disowned him. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA

03/22/14 Had the CART-IRL split of the mid-1990s never occurred, Toyota might still be racing open-wheelers instead of having a huge presence in NASCAR. But according to Toyota's U.S. racing boss, the split diluted the value of Indy car racing so badly that it ceased being of interest to the automaker.

"To demonstrate the lack of value … in 2003, we won the Indy 500, we won the race in Japan, we won 13 out of 16 races that year, and that fall, we still had to sell to our management to stay in the sport," said David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A., the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based racing arm of Toyota.

"As much as we loved it from an engineering standpoint, we also starting realizing that there were a lot of empty seats," said Wilson. "And open-wheel in the United States was not exactly catching fire, so that started our … relationship with NASCAR." Fox Sports

[Editor's Note: Bill France Jr. (along with AJ Foyt, John Barnes and others) encouraged Tony George to create the IRL and kill IndyCar racing. NASCAR then picked up Toyota and many former CART sponsors. Where are TV ratings now? Around 0.25. Enough said. France played Tony George like a fiddle and all those who supported Tony George have the blood of IndyCar Racing on their hands.]

Indy 500 TV Ratings – Look what Tony George did to his family's race (Share = % households tuned in)

Year Series Net Rating/Share
1973* CART ABC 16.5/30
1974 CART ABC 16.4/31
1975 CART ABC 14.9/30
1976 CART ABC 17.9/34 (High)
1977 CART ABC 15.6/32
1978 CART ABC 13.4/26
1979 CART ABC 13.5/24
1980 CART ABC 13.8/27
1981 CART ABC 12.8/24
1982 CART ABC 12.3/25
1983 CART ABC 14.1/27
1984 CART ABC 12.9/25
1985 CART ABC 9.7/18
1986* CART ABC 8.8/31
1987 CART ABC 11.1/36
1988 CART ABC 8.5/29
1989 CART ABC 7.8/28
1990 CART ABC 7.4/26
1991 CART ABC 8.0/27
1992 CART ABC 10.9/33
1993 CART ABC 9.3/30
1994 CART ABC 9.1/31
1995 CART ABC 9.4/28
Tony George Splits Sport
1996 IRL ABC 7.1/23
1997* IRL ABC 5.0/18
1998 IRL ABC 6.0/19
1999 IRL ABC 5.5/18
2000 IRL ABC 5.5/15
2001 IRL ABC 5.8/17
2002 IRL ABC 4.8/15
2003 IRL ABC 4.6/14
2004 IRL ABC 4.1/11
2005 IRL ABC 6.5/18
2006 IRL ABC 5.0/14
2007 IRL ABC 4.3/12
2008 IndyCar ABC 4.6/13
2009 IndyCar ABC 4.0
2010 IndyCar ABC 3.6 (Low)
2011 IndyCar ABC 4.0
2012 IndyCar ABC 4.3
2013 IndyCar ABC 3.7

The low is down 79% from the high set in the CART years

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