Saturday, December 6, 2008

CART vs IRL: a timeline of the war

(continuation of above article)

November 1945: Tony Hulman buys Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for a reported $750,000, resumes famed race in 1946.

June 1955: Sanctioning body AAA drops racing after 80 spectators killed at Le Mans. Hulman helps start United States Auto Club.

Late 1950s: USAC thrives with front-engine Indy cars, sprints, midgets.

1971: USAC National Championship Indy-car series goes all pavement.

Mid-1970s: Indy-car owners begin grumbling about USAC management.

October 1977: Tony Hulman, 76, dies.

Early 1978: Dan Gurney proposes uniting car owners into "Championship Auto Racing Teams" (CART).

April 1978: Plane crash kills eight USAC officials returning from race at Trenton.

November 1978: Car owners create CART after USAC rejects their proposal for new, balanced board to govern Indy-car racing.

March 1979: CART holds first race, sanctioned by SCCA, at Phoenix.

April 1979: IMS rejects CART entries to 500. Court orders IMS to accept them.

November 1979: CART lands PPG sponsorship, starts PPG Indy Car World Series.

1979-81: Track owners jump from USAC to CART.

April 1980: USAC and CART compromise, form Championship Racing League (CRL).

July 1980: IMS dissatisfied with CRL; USAC pulls out, CART continues.

1982: Indy 500 becomes the only USAC-sanctioned Indy-car race.

Mid-1980s: CART grows, adds street races, including Long Beach.

January 1990: Just 30, Tony George, grandson of Tony Hulman, becomes IMS president.

November 1991: George proposes new board structure for Indy-car racing. CART rejects it.

Mid-1992: Tony George granted nonvoting seat on CART board.

Late 1993: George criticizes lack of track-owner input at CART.

January 1994: CART hires British sports marketer Andrew Craig as president to expand series. George resigns seat on CART board.

March 1994: George announces early plans for Indy Racing League (IRL).

July 1995: IRL unveils 25/8 rule: 25 spots in 1996 Indy 500 are reserved for IRL drivers.

Late 1995: CART announces 500-mile race at Michigan International Speedway to compete with Indy 500.

January 1996: IRL, sanctioned by USAC, holds its first race in Orlando, Florida.

May 26, 1996: Indy 500 and U.S. 500.

August 1996: IRL unveils its new cars for 1997, with 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engines. IRL and CART cars are now incompatible.

July 1997: IRL boots USAC as sanctioning body after timing and scoring errors at Texas.

October 1997: Former USAC sprint-car champion Tony Stewart becomes first IRL champion.

December 1997: FedEx becomes CART's main sponsor, and cars are renamed Champ Cars.

March 1998: CART stock goes public on New York Stock Exchange at $16 per share.

May 2000: Target Chip Ganassi Racing is first major CART team to enter Indy 500 in five years. Driver Juan Montoya wins.

June 2000: CART in turmoil, Craig resigns.

December 2000: Joe Heitzler, former TV sports executive, is named CART president.

April 2001: Toyota announces it is leaving CART, Honda follows in May 2002.

May 2001: More CART regulars participate in Indy 500, take top six spots.

Summer 2001: CART missteps include canceled races and officiating errors.

December 2001: Heitzler removed. Long Beach GP founder Chris Pook named CART president.

Summer 2002: IRL's oval races become consistently competitive, but attendance lags. CART's oval races lag, but road and street races thrive. October 2002: FedEx bails out as CART sponsor.

2003: CART spends millions subsidizing teams. Pays CBS for air time and production costs. Oddly, gives broadcasts free to Speed Channel.

2003: IRL is now dominated by former CART teams. Original teams falling by wayside.

September 2003: Newcomers Paul Gentilozzi, et al., propose CART takeover, offer 56 cents for stock worth 55. Hang on.

October 2003: CART's MotoRock rock-and-racing combo flops at first event.

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