Expiration Date

Posted by Iannucci | 1/25/2008 | 4 comments »
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We’re now a few days out and the most lasting fallout from Robin’s latest merger rumor/news piece centers around this quote by Newman/Haas/Lanigan co-owner Carl Haas.

“It hasn’t happened yet but we’ve certainly considered going,” said Haas, who along with Paul Newman and Mike Lanigan own Champ Car’s most visible and successful operation. “It may not happen this year, but it’s highly probable we’ll do it in 2009 because there needs to be one series.”
As the defending championship team of the CCWS (several times over), NHL carries quite a bit of weight. Not only are they one of the few teams who has a solid sponsor in McDonalds that actually allows them to pay their drivers, but they also have been entrusted to help develop the talents of young Graham Rahal. The smart money says if they were to leave Champ Car then other teams would follow, and then there wouldn’t be much Champ Car left.

A few news sources have seized upon this as well with headlines from NHLR 'consider' switch to Haas plans to move team to IRL. Nothing like a feeding frenzy off a single quote, eh?

This shouldn’t be entirely a surprise given that Mr Haas has a solid relationship with the George family – he’s the team owner for the stock car driven by Mari Hulman George’s grandson. It’s widely thought the only reason Mr Haas hasn’t already come over to the IRL is because of the bitter Mr Newman, who may or may not be recuperating from some mystery surgery. Either way it’s Haas doing the talking and not Newman, which speaks volumes in and of itself.

The net result is that with the words “it’s highly probable we’ll do it in 2009” there may as well be an expiration date on Champ Car. If no deal is in the works for any exchange of assets by the end of their final event on November 9th of this year then the CCWS “leadership” will be faced with an exit by it’s main team and probably more than a few others. And as much passion as they have for racing, I don’t think Kalkhoven and Forsythe want to field two teams of eight cars each.

While in the past the demise of either series has been greatly exaggerated, it now looks like the clock is finally ticking on whatever leverage for a unification Champ Car may have. Either they take whatever Tony George offers in the next 10 months or they sit on their pride and watch their assets go to zero.

4 comments

  1. John Edward // January 25, 2008 9:20 AM  

    In the name of innocent (well, maybe not so innocent) digression, tomorrow's Paul Newman's birthday... in honor of that I'm going to rent "Winning."

  2. mmack // January 25, 2008 11:41 AM  

    Jeff,

    I can see Haas pushing for the IRL for two reasons.

    1) The abortive Newman\Haas\Lanigan\Yates amalgamation blew up last year. Johnny may need to log in and explain to us why a N-word team needed an open wheel team's assistance, since all I know is Ford pushed for it. Haas knows how much $$$$$$$$$ is needed to go to N-word Cup racing now, so he knows he can't go there alone, and there seems to be no dancing partners available. Most N-word teams open to a partner would want or need bigger cash than even N\H\L could bring. Again, Johnny can confirm or correct my statements.

    2) Lola. When CCWS made the inspired decision to go to Panoz in 2007, Haas, the US importer of Lola cars, was left out of a lucrative (such as it was) income stream.

    Now, on the N\H\L website, it states "Haas is also the North American importer and distributor of Hewland competition gearboxes, and distributor of racing components for the Panoz Champ Cars as well as Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions."

    Sounds impressive, but I'm going to make a guess the amount of $ being the US importer\distributor of Lola > amount of $ selling Panoz parts and Hewland gearboxes. Especially if your fellow team owners aren't buying many parts because they can't afford to.

    Think Lola might want a crack at developing a chassis for the IRL's next rule changes? Think Carl might want a piece of the action?

    A third issue might be related to Paul Newman himself. Newman brought McDonald's to N\H\L since McDonald's uses Newman's Own salad dressing in their restaurants. If Paul leaves, what happens if McDonald's says "Well, it was nice working with you guys." to Haas and Lanigan? That's got to weigh on Carl's mind, since over the years N\H has lost Texaco and K-Mart as sponsors.

    The question at this point is, how involved is Paul Newman in the team? Has he had enough of the Three Stooges antics? Will he sell his portion of the team and retire? Or is Haas moving on without him, now that he has Lanigan?

  3. mmack // January 25, 2008 1:08 PM  

    Jeff,

    Send this to Oreo. These are the people he wants Tony George to apologize to:

    "How ironic it will be that for 13 years IMS has split AOWR to satisfy it's own desire to maintain one race in lieu of building AOWR.

    For 13 years it has failed in it's mission to dominate AOWR. Here we are at the door step with a merger with ingredients that offer more of the same racing that for the most part has been rejected by AOWR fans.

    Will one series be the solution to the malaise that surrounds AOWR these days? Some would like to think that one series is the answer. I would probably agree if the terms favored AOWR but as reported the terms are what fans have been rejecting during the split years.

    You will have one series under the thumb of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway whose only interest is in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NOT American Open Wheel Racing.

    Based on the IRL experience.
    Gone will be the excitement of the three day race weekend.
    Gone will be track records.
    Gone will be the spirit of AOWR.


    Yep, an apology by Tony will go a long way to resolve any hurt feelings on that side of the fence.

  4. MeganfromIndy // January 25, 2008 8:36 PM  

    The apology comes in the form of millions of dollars.