Discussing HUGE and LONG

Posted by Iannucci | 9/04/2007 | 4 comments »
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Over the weekend the IRL announced that the schedule for 2008 was pretty much going to be the same as 2007, albeit without a date at Michigan International Speedway (BOO! HISS!). Aside from the omission of Michigan, having the same races on the same weekends is excellent news. Not only does it simplify things for race fans (like the few left in Watkins Glen who get shuffled around every year), but it also speaks well of the IndyCar series health.

And speaking of series health...Crimson Ace at IndyCar NewsStand is now adding “translation” duties to the resume, as the ‘Stand uncovered an article (in French) from the Montreal Journal discussing the less than healthy state of Champ Car. My Name Is IRL doesn’t want to beat the dead horse of Champ Car, but if this article is telling the truth then that series is in REALLY bad shape. From the translation:

"This hasn't been one of the good years for Champ Car. And when one begins to ask how long the series will survive, the situation worsens ... There are few drivers, races have been canceled, the majority of drivers must pay out of pocket, very few are paid, and in the case of one who is supposed to be paid -- Alex Tagliani -- he's not getting paid. ... One anonymous member of Paul Gentilozzi's team has said they can't afford to buy parts -- they're borrowing them from other teams. RSports hasn't paid Tags since the beginning of the year. Ten days ago, I would've put ChampCar's odds of having a 2008 season at 75%. Now, I'd say they're about as good as Sam Hornish Jr.'s odds of running the full IndyCar season next year -- probably 25% if you're looking at a rosy picture."
So if you were wondering why Bobby Rahal isn’t running a CCWS team for his son – there ya go.

However, the reason for interest in this story is related less to Champ Car than IndyCar. The ICS schedule is not being officially announced until a 17th date can be locked up, and officials are using words like “BIG” and “HUGE” to describe the date. Curt Cavin’s blog speculates “I’m told it's a race in California. Read: Los Angeles”, but readers have reported it has been modified from the original post.

Allegedly that post initially said “Long Beach”.

I’m not going to get all frothy over the possibility of another street race, but it certainly seems at least plausible that financial woes could force Champ Car to sell certain dates to the Indy Racing League – and Tony George would seem to be coveting Long Beach. IRL officials also spoke of wanting to expand to races in Canada and Mexico, and you can guess who already has established races in those locations. Meanwhile CCWS officials are emphasizing the “World” portion of their name in lieu of cancelled events in Denver and Phoenix this year. Put all this together and you can see that IF this happens then you no longer need any kind of discussion for a merger. In terms of the US, Champ Car will have left the building.

But the official announcement hasn’t happened yet so this is all wild and wacky speculation. Besides, if the IRL could just re-expand to Phoenix, Michigan, and a few other OVALS then I might get all frothy in the proper sense.


  1. pressdog // September 04, 2007 10:28 AM  

    The IRL would totally swoop down on Long Beach in a second. That would be like chopping the Champ Car jugular. IndyCar would want if only to kick CC in the nuts really hard. On top of that it gives them another race in CA. But, another street race? Don't count on it to boost TV ratings or league popularity.

  2. Johnny // September 04, 2007 10:51 AM  

    Yeah, that event has a little cachet though, especially when dually run with the ALMS and if they do a concourse/car show type deal. Assuming the IRL uses more than 2 cameras for the track ala CCWS, it could be at least decent, and a good pick up for stutus is nothing else.

  3. Robert A. Black // September 04, 2007 12:00 PM  

    Yes indeed, that blog entry did say "Long Beach" at first. It was news to me. The only thing I'd heard before was the Dodger Stadium parking lot (which is closer to me than Long Beach).

    If the IRL took over the Long Beach Grand Prix, that would be the flag-raising at Mount Suribachi moment for the open wheel war. Game over. Champ Car would be toast, at least in the US. If they can survive on the worldwide stage, good luck to them, but they'd be done in the US. As if they weren't already.

  4. crimsonace // September 04, 2007 3:25 PM  

    I knew those five years of French I took in school would come in handy (though I was mostly reading from a BabelFish translation to at least get the literal translation ... I could then go back to the original French and try to figure out what they were *actually* saying). Don't ask me to translate any articles on Adrian Fernandez in the Mexico City Press, though :).

    Cavin *did* initially say Long Beach, and by midday, that had changed. Either one of two things happened: 1) he let the cat out of the bag (when the IRL wanted to wait and allow CC to explain its own demise), or 2) he got official information that LB was not a possibility, and was given a more accurate assessment.