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.