• Apr 2, 2008


Indy racing chief Tony George is serious about reconciliation and moving forward with a truly unified racing series, and to that end is making several overtures to make the joining Champ Car teams feel more at home racing with this IRL teams.

Among the steps being considered is a name change to reflect the unification of the two erstwhile series. Acknowledging that the Indy Racing League name poses an inhospitable barrier for migrating Champ Car teams, George is suggesting the series return to the IndyCar World Series name used before the split. George would also like to use the Vanderbilt Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports that CART took with it on its departure. Meanwhile, George suggests that the calendar of the combined series could be split equally between oval tracks, road courses and temporary street circuits, with six races on each type of track, literally and metaphorically leveling the playing field for all those involved. Lastly, George finally owned up to his own mistake of locking out the bulk of the 1996 Indy 500 to only eight Champ Cars versus a 25-car IRL field, which prompted CART to boycott the event and widen the rift between the two series.

Their recent reunification initially drew heat from various people within the Champ Car world who felt it was really a take-over. If that is the case, George deserves all the more credit as the magnanimous victor extending a hand towards the defeated rival instead of taking a victory lap.

[Source: AutoWeek, Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Quite a positive development, but alas too little too late. At one point in time, American open wheel racing was running neck and neck in popularity with F1 with races like Long Beach, Toronto, Houston, and the grand daddy of them all--Indy, being highly anticipated by so many people. I felt the racing was so much more intense than F1 or NASCAR, perhaps due to the inferior machines (compared to F1) which meant driver skill and race strategy mattered so much more. No diss against Schumacher for his run in F1...but how much of it was due to Ferrari's huge technical and budget advantage over it's competitor? In the old IndyCar, every car was so evenly matched, the skills of the driver really shone through. Too bad they had to split...taking away the strategy of open road courses from the IRL and taking awy the speed of the ovals from CART...erm ChampCar.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yes, we needed one series, but not this way. This new series is ironically exactly what CART was before Tony George started the IRL (It wasn't a "split" - No one went with him, he just left the board because he didn't think he had enough power over the series). The only thing that is different is that now George is in control...The same guy that caused the whole thing. I was a huge Champcar fan. Now I watch sports car and drag racing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The last line of this article made me gag. Is the writer joking? I don't see Tony being a magnanimous victor at all. Not only has he destroyed my series, now he wants the trophy and somehow that's supposed to make me feel better.

      "Felt it was a takeover?" How on earth could anybody call it anything but a takeover - his tracks, his engines, his chassis. Absolutely nothing of Champ Car remains - sounds like a takover to me.

      Tony got exactly what he wanted - to be the Bill France, Jr. of open wheel racing. The problem is that I don't think he has the business savvy of Mr. France. And he's going to have to do a whole lot more than he has to get Champ Car fans to his races.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Amen, brother.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed.

        To make matters worse the equipmet used by the IRL is outdated, underpowered for road/street racing and has an unsafe history.
        The first unified race was an oval and all looked just like another IRL race.
        For fans of good OW road/street racing this man (TG) and his series are the worst possible news short term IMHO.
        However, all is not yet lost long term. As likely as not TG will continue to show an inability to grow any series and the IRL series will eventually fail leaving open the ground for a good new OW series.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I realize there are a ton of people that hate Tony George for the split but I think CART was going downhill beforehand anyways - they were trying to go international and compete w/ F1 but that ship had long sailed. The best way for OW racing to survive here was to stay closer to home and, whether you think so or not, the passing with oval racing gets better TV ratings which brings the dollars.

      It doesn't have the common man appeal of NASCAR or the prestige of F1 so the series may die still but I don't think it was George's split that caused it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Stop blaming everything on TG... AJ Foyt was his strongest supporter and the loudest speaker against Cart after or during the split!!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        TG had the money and the power to do what he did AJ just had the ear of TG. I blame TG for ruining the 500 turning into a irl points race and driving open wheel fans away can't stand to see his face or hear him talk.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "the Vanderbilt Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports"... preceeded only by the American PowerBoat Association Challenge Cup, aka "The Gold Cup", celebrating its 100th running this July in Detroit. The Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in all of motorsports and a great show every year.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Between-2 items
      Among- 3 or more

      George suggests that the calendar of the combined series could be split equally among oval tracks, road courses and temporary street circuits, ...