It's my birthday, and Robin REALLY wants to give me a big, fat merger. Probably one of those chocolate AND vanilla marble swirl cakes too.
The long, costly war between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League is close to being over and, for the first time since 1995, there could be one open wheel series for 2008. But there’s still one major hurdle to overcome to make this long-awaited union a reality.The holdup seems to be the Motegi race, which is scheduled for the same weekend as Long Beach, and Motegi - Honda's signature event - won't move except to the date the Kansas race occupies now.
SPEED has learned that Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, the co-owners of Champ Car, have reached an agreement with IRL founder Tony George to race together this season.
As reported by SPEEDtv.com recently, George offered the Champ Car ownership free Dallara chassis and Honda engines to any CC team that signs up for the full season in addition to receiving $1.2 million per car as part of the IRL’s new TEAM program. Additionally, the Champ Car races at Long Beach, Edmonton and Surfer’s Paradise, Australia would be added to the ’08 IndyCar Series schedule.
However, it’s not quite that easy.
(MORE from SpeedTV)
Robin's doing a nice job of staying on top of this, even acknowledging that despite the availability of 60 extra Dallaras for Champ Car teams they would still be at a huge competitive disadvantage the first year. I like when Robin actually reports - really, I do.
The main challenge to sealing the deal is that everyone is running out of time for this to happen, but if the CCWS ownership is changing it's tune from their previous demand of ONE HUNDRED MEEEEELLION DOLLARS then it's likely they are now facing a mutiny from within. Most owners are sensible enough to know that free equipment and more exposure is an EXTREMELY gracious offer by the IRL, so may be Kalkhoven, Forsythe, et al are facing a whole lot of costly bitterness this year if they can't make this work. For Tony George, this is called "leverage".
Of course, there are numerous outstanding issues for this "merger" (this sounds more like an "acquisition" to me) like what happens to the Atlantic series, the TV broadcast buys, the naming rights to current races, the DP01s, and all of those Champ Car event girls. While these things are determined this crazy possibility for adding so many teams to the IRL is probably going to leave many free agent drivers having shotgun marriages with teams they barely know. That should be fun.
One request, just because it's my birthday: if the IRL is determined to put a free chassis in every Champ Car pot, could someone please throw Sarah Fisher a free car bone as well? Just askin’.