Walking back

Posted by Iannucci | 2/12/2008 | 14 comments »
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Forget any unification news, Derrick Walker is straight up taking his team from Champ Car back to the IRL.

Walker, a Champ Car owner who has also competed in the IRL, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he believes Champ Car is finished.

"It has all the makings of the end of Champ Car," he said in a telephone interview. "How it's going to be done, I don't know. But I think Champ Car is going to shut down."

Walker was so concerned about the series' future that he instructed the team to return to Indianapolis without ever testing his car in Sebring, Fla., earlier this month.

"We are working toward (the IndyCar series) 100 percent until someone can show me that Champ Car is really going," Walker said. "That's part of my frustration. My truck was on its way to the Sebring test and I turned it around and brought it back because we had not had anyone in Champ Car tell me what was going on. So we put it all in the corner, left it alone and put our energy in IRL 101."

(MORE from Associated Press)
If you had a dime for every story that talked about CCWS teams not getting paid, well, you'd have more cash in hand than many of these teams.

For now, get used to the fact that his driver's name really is Will Power.

14 comments

  1. The American Mutt // February 12, 2008 8:49 PM  

    I had a thought recently. Jeff, you're going to have to add a whole lot of pics, and come up with some new nicknames if this "absorption called Merger" happens.

  2. Jeff Iannucci // February 12, 2008 8:53 PM  

    Great horny toads, you're right!

    Although does a name like "Will Power" even NEED a nickname? That might be one we can skip.

  3. pressdog // February 12, 2008 9:40 PM  

    Will "Danger" Power (Danger is his middle name). Guy looks a lot like Ricky Bobby. I'm so excited you all are getting introduced to the Champ Car drivers. Wait until the World's Tallest Open Wheel Driver (Justin Wilson) shows up.

  4. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // February 12, 2008 9:40 PM  

    Wow, that'll be a whole latta new drivers to get to know.
    Do you think that Paul Newman will ever get over it and show up?

  5. faniqqearhead // February 12, 2008 9:53 PM  

    Has anyone tried to guesstimate how many cars there'd be if (thing KK does not want us to discuss) happens? By trying to judge with CC teams are semi-viable still, I got 23 probablies and up to 7 maybes. I'm not sure how much above "pulled out of my butt" that figure is.

  6. The American Mutt // February 12, 2008 10:13 PM  

    Cavin commented on car count in one of his Q&As. I believe his count put them at 28. Anyone have any idea if That Hot British Chick (I know her name, but prefer to call her That Hot British chick) will make the move as well?

  7. Johnny // February 13, 2008 5:05 AM  

    Mutt: By "Hot British Chick", I think you're referring to Katherine Legge. I'm not sure if she'd make a revised field or not.

    This is great news for the IRL though, Walker is easily the most even-handed and probably technically proficient of the CCWS principals, and Will Power shouldn't have any trouble adapting to the IRL and will likely be tough on the road courses right out of the box. Good stuff.

  8. John Edward // February 13, 2008 5:33 AM  

    So we going to be one big happy family again...

    "With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as TG gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up open-wheel's wounds."

  9. Dale Nixon // February 13, 2008 6:42 AM  

    It's Will "to" Power.

    "Florida trio formed by producer Bob Rosenberg which initially featured Dr. J and Maria Mendez. The group later became a duo, with Rosenberg and Elin Michaels. The group's name, taken from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, belies their mellow adult contemporary sound. Their medley of Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" hit number one in late 1988."

  10. Jeff Iannucci // February 13, 2008 6:46 AM  

    I always got Will To Power confused with Boy Meets Girl - because I hated them both.

  11. Tabernerus // February 13, 2008 7:29 AM  

    I say you just contract it to Willpower and be done with it.

    Incidentally, today's the day I thought we'd hear something more concrete than, "Yup, still talking, sort of." So what will we hear? Newman Haas making the jump? PKV? Both? A more comprehensive plan to bring over multiple teams? Or nothing at all? At this point, if Walker's gone, and is bringing with him a championship contending driver, can there even BE a Champ Car? I mean, sure, you find every last warm body that's ever driven in Atlantics, and put them in a DP01, but that's reckless and dangerous, so really, isn't this about it?

  12. Doug // February 13, 2008 10:36 AM  

    Ms. Legge has already signed a contract to race for Audi in the DTM.

  13. mmack // February 14, 2008 7:10 AM  

    Hold off popping those champagne corks just yet. From the man hisownself:

    February 13, 2008
    For the Fans: Walker Racing's Point of View
    By Derrick Walker
    Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of speculation as to what is happening with Champ Car and Walker Racing/ Team Australia. We are sure that the fans have heard and read a lot of the rumors that are circulating about Champ Car and we thought it was important to give the fans a little perspective on Walker Racing's point of view about the issue of the potential merger and our current status.

    First and foremost let's begin with the issue of the merger. From a fan, sport and business point of view, one open wheel racing series in the United States has long been recognized as the only way for a strong series to succeed successfully. Two similar series racing against each other and competing against one another for the same fans, sponsors, race tracks and television packages, really doesn't make sense in today's world. There isn't enough interest in the United States or even in the world for two competing series as similar as Champ Car and IRL are.

    It makes all the sense to pull both series together and that's obviously been tried many times before and now there has been a lot of discussion about the possibility of it happening again. However there is great difficulty in being able to pull those series together at this time of the year for IRL or Champ Car.

    Logistically on the Champ Car side to restart the series and go racing at the first race is probably easier of the two equations when you look at what has to be done for we as teams to compete in open wheel racing. However if there is a merger all of the Champ Car equipment is basically redundant. It's obsolete because the rules in the IRL are completely different. Teams would have to buy new equipment. For example: cars, spare parts and systems to be able to work the IRL car comes with a price tag of around $1.3 million per driver, so it's a significant investment in equipment. It's also worth noting, in Champ Car we invested on average $1 million in Panoz equipment and that investment would be written off if there was a merger.

    From a competitive standpoint Champ Car teams would be at an obvious disadvantage to be gearing up with this new equipment and to be competing again on ovals, racing a completely different specification car with no previous knowledge or information on how to set it up and race it effectively. One could expect that the Champ Car teams, from a competitive standpoint would be a little bit behind initially and slowly over a two year period would begin to catch up and to regain some reasonable level of competitiveness.

    On the issue as to whether Champ Car survives or doesn't, here is what we know. We know there has been and continues to be discussions on the possibility of a merger. We know very little else. There are some obvious signs that Champ Car is on hold until these discussions are finished. It's also fair to assume that Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven have invested a considerable amount of time and effort into making Champ Car a success. So if this merger is to happen, it represents a considerable change in their strategy for Champ Car.

    From a Walker Racing standpoint, Craig Gore my partner in Team Australia has expressed many times to continue his involvement in the Team Australia program with Will Power, whether it is in Champ Car or in a merged series. As of yet, those plans are on hold until we know what is happening with the potential merger.

    Our interest in the IRL was formulated sometime ago. We looked at the possibility to run two open wheel series cars in our facility again . So the idea of running in the IRL is not a new concept for us and is not a concept that was born out of that fact that there would be a merger or that Champ Car could disappear.

    The future for open wheel racing is somewhat uncertain, but the encouraging sign is that all parties are talking. There is nothing that seems to be off of the table at the moment. It's just an awkward time where everyone is on hold and the media is trying to get the story out there to the fans, but it's too premature to be able to tell the story because the discussions really have to be finished before everyone in the IRL and Champ Car know what potentially could happen. If Champ Car continues on and we have the funding, it's very likely that Team Australia would continue, and it's also quite possible that we could successfully secure sponsorship for the IRL and have an IRL program as well.

    My last comment from a Walker Racing perspective: we are a small specialized company running in open wheel racing. We are non-political. We see open wheel racing as open wheel racing and we go where our business leads us. If it's in two series or if it's better for the business to be in one series then we will be where we can get the corporate support to be able to keep racing. Thank you for your support as fans and we will do our best to keep you all posted.


    Translation: We are prepared for all eventualities, but we're as much in the dark as you are.

    link to Walker Racing Site with story.

  14. Tabernerus // February 14, 2008 7:34 AM  

    You know what? I like Derek Walker more and more every day this goes on. That was a long-winded way of saying, "Look, we just wanna race, and have no idea 'bout that political stuff." Nice. It also doesn't really say anything that kills the merger buzz, other than that it would obviously be logistically easier to just show up at Long Beach as Champ Car.