No merger, now what?

A reader writes, Dear, You published articles pushing for a unification of the IRL and Champ Car. Clearly it is not going to happen now. Can they survive apart? Dave Rgaoli, Milwaukee, WI. Dear Dave, We still believe the two would have been much stronger together than apart, but unfortunately the owners on both sides have a different philosophy on what will ultimately be successful. They tried, as did others such as Honda and Mario Andretti, but were simply too far apart on control.

Therefore, the two will continue down separate and distinctly different paths. Both series have their strengths and their weaknesses. Champ Car will pursue their street racing agenda and continue their international expansion. The IRL will remain largely a domestic oval racing series with a smattering of road courses, and of course they still have their marquee event – the Indy 500, which will forever define who they are.

In many respects the IRL is far more established, though it has had to change its business plan on a number of occasions and its support from engine manufacturers, which have helped raise the level of competition, is unclear. The IRL has a stronger TV package right now, especially in that ABC and ESPN do try to promote the IRL. The same can't be said for Champ Car. In many respects they are a whole new company with a new business plan, a new marketing and sales group, an ever changing schedule and a revolving door of drivers on a couple of teams. Their greatest weakness is their TV package. While better than the past two years, it is still a time buy with little or no promotion from CBS, NBC or SPEED Channel.

Champ Car is also in need of a marquee event. Some think that event is Long Beach, and although it is a great event, Champ Car needs something bigger….much bigger, and it needs to run on Memorial Day weekend, the biggest racing weekend of the year in the USA. Mark C.

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