Is it April first already?

Posted by Iannucci | 1/23/2008 | 17 comments »
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This doozy just in from Robin:

Free cars. Free engines. Long Beach, Toronto, Edmonton, Mexico City and Australia added to the Indy Racing League’s schedule. A unified open-wheel series for 2008. has learned that’s what Tony George proposed to Champ Car’s ownership group several weeks ago during meetings here in Indianapolis.

George, who was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, reportedly offered to supply Dallara chassis and Honda engine leases to any and all Champ Car teams willing to commit to the entire ’08 campaign. It was also thought he was willing to move the Motegi, Japan race in mid-April back to the fall to accommodate the annual Long Beach Grand Prix.

(MORE from SpeedTV)
Good gracious, this is silly. Let me give you exactly one reason why on Earth Mr George would offer FREE rides to people who choose not to ride in his series: because he knew the CCWS "leadership" would reject it.

I mean, how would the good folks at Panther or D&R or Foyt Racing feel knowing Dale Coyne or Gerry Forsythe got free cars and engines? What are the odds Super Tex would be looking for a new laptop to toss, friends?

This is pure speculation but this seems more of a public relations salvo than a bona fide solution. Surely it was presented knowing FULL WELL it would go down in flames because Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven, et al, would no longer get to own any piece of that which they have already flushed meeeeeeeeellions of dollars into. So my guess is this was intended to get a few po' broke and lonely CCWS teams to consider coming to the IRL, or at least irritate them a touch more at said "leadership".

And $100M as a counter offer by Champ Car? Come on, Robin. By now you gotta know that just isn't news - it's simply more posturing.

UPDATE: After obtaining an unofficial transcript of Robin's super secret meeting with the Champ Car head honchos, the reasoning of the $100 meeeeellion dollar counter offer has finally determined.

Kalkhoven: Our early attempts at unification went through several preparations. Preparations A through G were a complete failure. But now, we finally have a working unification plan for $100 meeeeellion dollars, which we shall call...Preparation H.
[Robin snickers]
Kalkhoven: What?
Robin: Why don't you just call it operation ass-cream, you ass.
Kalkhoven: I'm sorry, did you say you want some ice cream?
Robin: Yes, I'd love some chocolate ass-cream.
Kalkhoven: Perhaps later.
Forsythe: Kevin, I love your plan.
Kalkhoven: You do?
Forsythe: Yeah. It's a really good plan.
Kalkhoven: Yes Jerry, on the whole Preparation H feels good.
[Robin resumes snickering]
Kalkhoven: What is it now?
Robin: No, I totally agree with you. Preparation H does feel good... on the hole.

(thanks to mmack for the inspiration)


  1. mmack // January 23, 2008 10:08 PM  


    Where to start, where to start?

    Here are some key qoutes to look at:

    longtime Champ Car lynchpin Carl Haas admitted he’d had discussions with the IRL founder to switch series.

    “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.”

    Reading tea leaves: Paul Newman retires either now or after this year. Haas and Lanigan go to the IRL. Newman may be retiring due to age, or the continuing antics of the Three Stooges did the one thing I thought was impossible to do: make Paul Newman angrier at them than Tony George.

    If that's the scenario, close the doors and turn off the lights at CCWS headquarters. When the last big team leaves, they're toast.

    “We’ve got to find a way to make a deal with Tony George,” said Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 CART champion who also co-owns PKV Racing with Kalkhoven.

    Bad news when the partner of one of the Three Stooges sees things clearer than his boss.

    “I think Kevin and Gerry want an equity position in the deal,” said Vasser. “Maybe that’s the hangup.”

    Counting television, payroll, Cosworth, propping up teams and promoting races, Kalkhoven and Forsythe have spent an enormous sum of money since claiming CART in bankruptcy court in 2004.

    It’s believed they want George to pay them as much as $100 million, in addition to providing free equipment and paying to sanction those five races. Also, one or both requested a seat on the IRL board.

    If Kevin, Gerry, and/or Paul or Dan Petit want any say on the board, they are dumber than I think they are. If they don't understand why the IRL was formed, they might want to do some googling. That said, if it gets them to close up shop, give one a board seat and ignore every danmed thing he says.

    At this point, I think CCWS management knows it can't keep things going past 2008, and it may not be able to keep a full season this year. IF Robin's story is true about the prize money for 2007 not being paid, that means they're over a barrel, because now the team owners have figured out there's tough times ahead. I see the 100 million counter as "Look, we've lost our shirts on this thing. We're collectively out 100 mil. Pay us and we'll give you everything." Everything else is a way to save face, and a way for them to figure out how desperate Tony George is.

    Kalkhoven and Forsythe met Bachelart on Tuesday in Indianapolis and convinced him everything will be fine in 2008.

    “Champ Car has a bit of a crisis, no doubt, but Kevin and Gerry are still motivated and I have faith in them,” said Bachelart.

    “It’s too late to do anything for 2008 but Tony’s plan is a good idea for 2009.”

    The last line says it all. Even after he bought a car and lined up a sponsor, Bachelart would jump in '09 for the right deal.

    At this point Tony George has figured out what type of people he's dealing with, now he has to figure out their price.

  2. Zappatista // January 23, 2008 10:55 PM  

    CLASSIC...oh how this is going to be fun! Who else can't wait? I already have my bronze badge for INDY! With that said, they are fools! fools I say! I love IU B-Ball, thus I missed this, but it made my night over the Hoosier demolition of Iowa, sorry Ruuuusssy......

  3. Billy Coy // January 24, 2008 4:11 AM  

    fun reading on a cold (9 degrees)wintery Indianpolis morning

  4. Johnny // January 24, 2008 5:02 AM  

    Another key point of the article is that Stoddart and Derrick Walker would leave in a heartbeat as well, especially Walker who's having trouble fielding a second car this year in the CCWS. The IRL could do a lot worse than those two as team principals, and Stoddart is worth whatever it takes for his impassioned evangelism alone.

  5. John Edward // January 24, 2008 5:58 AM  

    This news is from Robin Miller?



  6. pressdog // January 24, 2008 7:56 AM  

    Y'all scoff at Robin, but I think it's a killer story. Those quotes from Haas and Vasser basically saying they've considered bolting ..that's news. Champ Car teams saying "it sounds good for 2009." You seriously don't think there's any value in this story? It's a brilliant move by George and a great scoop by Robin Miller.

  7. Jeff Iannucci // January 24, 2008 8:01 AM  


    I don't think there's value in the piece as a unification story. It's definitely revealing that certain owners sound as if they're itching to jump series, but that was my point. This entire discussion seems aimed at turning the CCWS constituents (read: teams) against their current ownership – and judging from those quotes in several cases it seems to be having that effect.

    Mutiny would not equal unification. Not yet, at least.

  8. mmack // January 24, 2008 8:34 AM  

    Jeff and P-Dog,

    I want to know one thing: can we now call Kevin Kalkohven Dr. Evil since he offered to hold open wheel racing hostage for "One hundred meeellion dollars"?

    "Throw me a fricken bone here, Tony!" :^P

  9. pressdog // January 24, 2008 9:23 AM  

    LOL. And some frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

  10. Jeff Iannucci // January 24, 2008 9:59 AM  

    And some frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

    Or in Kalkhoven's case, penguins.

  11. Zappatista // January 24, 2008 11:11 AM  

    "Recently, it has been observed that Kalkhoven has exhibited a decreased interest in the Champ Car series, reducing his visibility, and taking a two month sabatical in Antarctica after a disagreement between the series owners." - Straight from Wiki.

    “The numbers speak for themselves”
    Kevin Kalkhoven

    What numbers could he have speaking to? Car count, sponsers, TG's?

    fun fun fun

  12. Rob // January 24, 2008 11:59 AM  

    At least we know the season cant be far away when Robin starts churning out old faithful - MergerGate.

    He really is the little journalist who cried "merger", isn't he?!

  13. Shellhead // January 24, 2008 12:31 PM  

    Ugh! The U-word again! I just don't get why this is news. Some quotes from team owners that haven't switched series yet? An offer from Tony George that wasn't accepted? So basically nothing has happened....but *may* happen next year....why does that sound so familiar? OH, because that's the same story EVERY year!!

    I would agree that some lower-end Indycar teams may take exception to the free equipment, but they might accept it just to have a single series again. Buy Foyt a steak and he's good :)

    But thus far nothing has happened and there's nothing to suggest that it will. This story is pure Miller - lots of noise, but nothing else.....move along.

  14. Indychic317 // January 24, 2008 12:46 PM  

    Let me first say I consider this offer icing on the cake. You tell them (Champ) ok you kinda won this by giving them engines so their feelings aren't as hurt. It's a bargaining chip one T.G. can afford. I don't care why I just care it's over. Now lets go racing !
    I love Foyt and I love steak, he he.

  15. chrisestrada // January 24, 2008 1:14 PM  

    As I said over on my blog, I can't believe KK and GF would have the gall to think their series is worth $100 million.

  16. Zappatista // January 24, 2008 1:18 PM  


    It isn't even the "series" that they want the money for, it's the tracks. Period. And YES, it is quite laughable!

  17. Tim Wohlford // January 24, 2008 8:55 PM  

    If just one of the key facts is correct, CCWS is deeeep in doo doo.

    That one fact?

    If the prize money hasn't been paid yet (a key assertion in Robin's story) then CCWS is truely broke, or truely chaotic, or both.

    Finally, what if CCWS would decide that this is their last year? Such an announcement would mean an immediate drain of sponsors, drivers, and teams. In other words, CCWS is literally forced to lie if they are closing down shop.