Merger to be announced Friday, Champ Car to be no more

UPDATE #2 A meeting that could unify U.S. open-wheel racing is still on schedule for tonight, an Indy Racing League spokesman said this afternoon. Kevin Kalkhoven, a co-owner of the Indianapolis-based Champ Car World Series and the series' chief negotiator in the dealings with IRL founder Tony George, was due in the city from London late this afternoon. He will be meeting with George to finalize the last remaining details. A news conference to announce the unification is expected Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A time for the event has not been announced. Indy Star

02/21/08 IRL founder Tony George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven are meeting Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis and according to a Champ Car spokesman are expected to sign a deal that would end the 12-year rift between the American open-wheel racing series.

"Our expectations are that they will cover the final points of the agreement and, if all goes well, they will be prepared to make an announcement on Friday," said Champ Car spokesman David Higdon. USA Today

02/20/08 IndyCar officials have tentatively scheduled a press conference for Friday as early as 11 a.m. in Indianapolis, where they will announce that the long American open-wheel racing war has come to an end.

Series officials had hoped to make the announcement Thursday. But Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven will not be back from England, where he is tending to family business.

Friday's announcement will end the 13-year feud that began when Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George announced the creation of a new racing series on March 20, 1994. At that time, most of the teams that competed in the Indianapolis 500 were in CART, a series that went bankrupt and would later be revived as Champ Car.

George's original intention was to have CART teams participate in what was then known as the Indy Racing League. But most of those teams refused, starting a lengthy and divisive battle for supremacy in North American open wheel racing.

But Champ Car has agreed to cease operations, which will allow its teams to accept George's offer of a free Dallara car and free Honda engines to make the transition to the new series.

As part of the agreement, IndyCar will purchase Champ Car's "intellectual properties," including the historical database.

For example, Sam Hornish Jr. is officially listed as the series' all-time wins leader with 19. But under the new agreement, the all-time lead would be returned to A.J. Foyt, who has 67 career victories.

In addition, IndyCar is expected to get Champ Car's race dates for the Long Beach Grand Prix along with street races in Edmonton, Alberta; Surfer's Paradise, Australia and Mexico City. SportsTicker

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