YAUMB: a motorsports blog
Open-wheel unity? Peace in our time?
It could happen, according to this story by Robin Miller.
That’s right - the Champ Car ship is sinking and Tony George is chucking life preservers into the knots of swimming survivors. Free cars and free engines for all Champ Car teams willing to run the full 2008 IRL schedule and voila! …an ad-hoc unification between the IRL and Champ Car.
What’s to inspire Champ Car teams to move from one dole to the other after years of pooh-poohing the IRL on principle? The fact that even backmarker ride-buying wankers are dissing the series as untenable, maybe? Perhaps.
In any event, it’s a hard offer to pass up… unless you are Gerry Forsythe, who hates Tony George and would willingly stab at George from Hell’s heart like Star Trek’s Khan. Gerry is likely brainstorming to find some way to counter Tony’s offer that will convince the Champ Car team owners not to defect - because if he doesn’t, then Tony wins, and apparently no victory is too Pyrrhic to keep Tony George from winning the open-wheel Civil War.
See, Tony George started the IRL for one reason and one reason only - to gain total control over American open-wheel racing. He thought it was his birthright and his due because he inherited the ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This whole decade-plus of stupidity in open-wheel racing has therefore been a battle of wills between George and Forsythe - the latter being the true financial power behind CART and now Champ Car.
Forsythe has ignored countless offers of unification between the two factions because the one thing he’ll never be able to stomach is ceding any sort of majority control of open-wheel racing to a man he considers to be an idiot. The problem is, this time he may not be able to do anything about it. The only owners that are resistant so far to this carte blanche deal are his fellow owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Eric Bachelart, a man who has his own full funding (a rarity in Champ Car) and who has historically had his lips planted firmly on Champ Car’s ass. And I don’t care how much money Forsythe has - ain’t no way he’s fielding 12 cars on his own.
So this is as close as we’ve gotten to a unified open-wheel series since 1995. Should be cause for celebration, right? Not so much. See, very few people are left who care about either side anymore. But for those who still care, what will a unified series do for them? Simply shift their existing animosities into a new context. Not even unification is going to erase the bitterness that hangs over open-wheel like a putrid cloud. Even if the sides unified tomorrow, it would still take many years of stability and lack of infighting to restore any sense of validity or importance to Indy-style racing in this country. And who really believes that the people still involved in this morass are capable of either stability or peacemaking with the other side?