Champ Car/Indy Racing League merger in the works?

No, really. AutoWeek is reporting that the two series' principals, Kevin Kalkhoven and Tony George, have held a number of meetings on the subject this year, and a letter of intent to merge the competing open-wheel racing series could be imminent.
The rumor includes an encouraging level of detail, including:
  • 50/50 ownership of the resulting series
  • George and Kalkhoven would be co-chairmen
  • Honda and Cosworth would both be involved
  • Bridgestone will be the tire supplier (could be either of the Bridgestone or Firestone brands)

In the realm of (even wilder) speculation, it's likely that Champ Car technical specs would dominate a merged series. The 2.65-liter turbo V8 Champ Car engine specification is basically unchanged from the days when Honda competed in the same engine formula with Ford (now Cosworth), so a level playing field would be easy to attain. Champ Car is well along in the design of a brand new chassis for the 2007 season, better suited to street and road courses and emphasizing cost-containment for race teams. Similarly, Champ Car's Formula Atlantic series has a new car from Swift, a new engine agreement with Mazda, and lots of teams, while the IRL's Pro Series is virtually dead.

A merged series would include the Indy 500, of course, and the most successful races from each series (most of which would be Champ Car's).

As AutoWeek points out, the real question is whether race fans will even care. It could well be too late to stop the decline of Indy-style racing.

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