Opportunity lost

Posted by Iannucci | 1/28/2008 | 12 comments »
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Yeah, about that recent merger frenzy? Not so much. The intrepid Curt Cavin says this deal is dead for now as he follows up in the IndyStar.

George, the IRL's chief executive officer, said that in meetings last fall with Champ Car's leadership, he offered to help its teams pay for IRL cars on the condition they participated in his series for at least two seasons. When none came forward in a timely manner, George chose to scrap his plan.

"Teams started coming to me in December and January, and there's not much I can do at that point," George said. "I needed to know earlier so we could get the cars ordered."

George said he told Kalkhoven and Forsythe in separate meetings that he would help teams acquire a new car and a used one as a backup for each full-season driver supported by a proper budget. He would not have bought the cars outright.

"I wasn't going to wholesale make that offer," George said. "I would make sure they had equipment; it would not necessarily be free."

(MORE from IndyStar.com)
Reading between the lines it appears Mr George was trying to secure more vehicles for the coming seasons by extending the longstanding concept of "Tonybucks" and not with gratis vehicles. George knows his contract with Honda is up in two years (what a coincidence!), so it's certainly in the IRL's best interest to elevate it's product with more competitors in that timeframe.

So if there's one thing these new details tell us it's that George is more concerned with looking after his own product than with looking after Champ Car. If there's a second thing, it's that something happened between "last fall" and "December and January" that spooked a lot of Champ Car teams. If there's a third it's that Kevin "I never, ever saw an offer from Tony George" Kalkhoven would make a fine Sergeant Schultz.

12 comments

  1. pressdog // January 28, 2008 8:50 AM  

    Deal? What deal? Oh, the one Robin Miller reported. Welcome to the party, Curt! We're not talking about a merger any more. We're talking about a potential acquisition of Champ Car by the IRL. The longer CC holds out the cheaper the acquisition will become. We can all stop using the M-word now.

  2. mmack // January 28, 2008 10:14 AM  

    Once again, Curt Cavin proves the difference between a reporter and a rumormonger. Something Robin Miller reported via "inside sources" is filled with speculation that ends up being incomplete and off the mark? Color me shocked! :^/

    Now, I do take some of what Cavin wrote with a grain of salt since Gerry "The Invisible Man" Forsythe and Kevin "Dances with Penguins" Kalkhoven did not freely share their side of the story. (BTW, MASTERFUL PR strategy on your part, CCWS!) However, I do appreciate that Curt (unlike another "reporter" who talked to our site host a few days ago) picked up the phone to talk to the principals of the story.

  3. mmack // January 28, 2008 10:33 AM  

    If there's a second thing, it's that something happened between "last fall" and "December and January" that spooked a lot of Champ Car teams.

    I'm guessing that the Champ Car team owners got wind of that stellar 2008 television package, and word trickled back on the offer made to their fearless leaders. Also, IF Miller is correct (and in light of these recent revelations, who knows?) and the teams haven't been paid their prize money, well, $1 million a car beats wondering when you'll get paid by the Three Stooges. Those teams who could field a team for two seasons probably looked the difficulty of getting sponsors for '08 in CCWS and decided to try to bolt.

  4. pressdog // January 28, 2008 11:51 AM  

    Without Miller's story, you think anyone would have talked to Cavin several days later? IMO and based on my nine years as an actual journalist for a real newspaper, a lot of times you get zip until someone breaks the story, then magically everyone finds their voice. I'm no Robin lover, but give credit where credit is due. If there was no Miller story we wouldn't know squat about this yet today.

  5. mmack // January 28, 2008 12:46 PM  

    'Dog,

    What's your take on Miller singing the same song again today, even after Cavin got quotes from TG disproving the supposedly "free" chassis and engines?

  6. Zappatista // January 28, 2008 12:49 PM  

    PDog, I agree. I had written about the test with both series's at Homestead. NOT a clue to be had by actual journalists until after the fact. I think they may have even scoffed at me! many do.....

  7. Zappatista // January 28, 2008 12:58 PM  

    mmack,

    Miller is pissed! (and should be) You don't think that he still cares do you? Talk about a scorcher...I'm going to go read it again.

  8. chrisestrada // January 28, 2008 1:11 PM  

    Robin Miller realized he picked the wrong horse a long time ago.

    Today, he shot it dead. With an verbal RPG launcher. Fun read.

  9. John Edward // January 28, 2008 1:34 PM  

    I agree with Christopher Estrada...today he shot it [ccws] dead..right between the eyes.

  10. Tabernerus // January 28, 2008 6:26 PM  

    I think what this most means is that unless something truly dramatic happens this season (and I have no idea what that could possibly be), Champ Car will have a lot of trouble answering the bell for 2009. Rather than a hastily thrown together arrangement for 2008 that would certainly have its pitfalls, I guess it could be a good thing to let the new revenue sharing plan develop for a year, try to maintain a consistent 20 cars, bring in some new sponsors, and then see if any Champ Car teams want to make the jump, having had a year of funereal crowds and an embarrassing TV package to mull over. A second-tier Indy team like D&R can pull in Aamco. A second-tier Champ Car team can pull in Lexington Financial Group and Sonny's BBQ. I'm not saying all is roses and champagne in IndyCar. Clearly, a unified front might attract back some sponsors that have focused in recent years on stock car racing. It absolutely benefits IndyCar to bring over the top, say, four Champ Car teams, and make a big push for front-line sponsors. But the latest Champ Car TV package is, quite frankly, a slap in the face. Even if a Champ Car team wants to believe that they have a marketable product that can make a big comeback, how can they do that when their races aren't on live TV, every time?

  11. mmack // January 29, 2008 7:24 AM  

    I can see the scene at CCWS's underground lair right now in my mind:

    KK: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have eighteen fricken DP-01's with drivers for Long Beach! Now evidently my invisible colleague Gerry Forsythe informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
    PG: Atlantics.
    KK: [pause] Right.
    PG: They have sponsors.
    KK: Are they paying sponsors?
    PG: Absolutely.
    KK: Oh well, that's a start. Okay people, new plan: Every race where we don't have eighteen cars, we fill the field with Atlantics.
    PG: [Clears throat]
    KK: [annoyed] What?
    PG: Dr. Evil, I don't think that will work.
    KK: And why not?
    PG: Well, USAC tried that with dirt cars in the 1980's and look where it got them.
    KK: [pause] Oh hell, let's just do what we always do we and kidnap Tony George and Roger Penske and hold them hostage for one . . . hundred . . . BILLION DOLLARS!

  12. Indy Racing League Maniac // January 30, 2008 3:44 PM  

    I've got to say that this is a different story than we've seen in past years. Everybody talked about the merger but failed to focus on the kicker, which is that no matter what Haas is out of there in 2009 anyway. Start the band boys, the party's just getting kicked off...