Thursday, February 23, 2006

CART-IRL SPLIT ENDING, I HOPE

If you are a racing fan life is good. NASCAR is back, finally, and Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500. Now comes word that the CART-IRL feud may be thawing.

This would be great news for the sport. IRL owner Tony George and ChampCar owner Kevin Kalkhoven are talking about merging the IRL and ChampCar series after a decade-long split.

About time, I hope. This current situation cannot go on for much longer. These two racing series were getting killed by NASCAR, and this split ruined the Indianapolis 500. In fact, it ruined open-wheel racing in North America, period. Even if they get back together it's going to take years to rebuild from the carnage of this split, but at least they'll be able to do it.

I wonder if the current television situation has something to do with these talks. ABC just signed a big contract with NASCAR to take over the "Chase", and I don't think that was good news for either the IRL or ChampCar. ChampCar already had been kicked off of ABC and had a pathetic TV deal as it is- I think they had to buy time to get their races on the air. The IRL were still on ABC and ESPN already, but I think their contract there was going to be threatened with this NASCAR news and they were probably going to have to move to CBS or NBC for less money-- and possibly knock ChampCar off the air. These two series are basically battling to a draw: IRL has more marquee names and has the Indy 500, but most of their other race dates are terrible and attendance is in the toilet everywhere. I doubt ABC or any other networks are too interested in continuing to show a race series in which people care about only one race. ChampCar, on the other had, still has better race venues overall despite a few defections, and good attendance in a lot of places. But fewer marquee names are willing to be part of this series anymore, their TV deals are a joke--- and of course, they don't have the 500.

Meanwhile, interest in both race series has basically evaporated. Major sponsors have bailed out. Star drivers are thinking of bolting to the big money in NASCAR, or to Formula 1. This whole sport is a mess, ladies and gentlemen. So they need a merger.

I know there's some people who are in Toronto who still say ChampCar should go it alone and think Tony George should go to hell, and they say George split up the sport before and might do it again. They want to keep ChampCar the way it is and still harbour hopes of putting Tony George out of business completely. I think these guys are dreaming. ChampCar still has a lot of problems and it's all due to the infamous split. I'd say that if both series continue fighting with each other they'll BOTH go under; this situation cannot be allowed to continue. The other problem is that sooner or later Paul Tracy is going to retire. Then what do these Toronto and Edmonton races do? They would be left with a bunch of bums and no-names are part of their races.

I hope this situation gets resolved in time for 2007. Imagine: Danica Patrick in Toronto at the-- wait, what is it called again?

That's the other thing, it's not called the Molson Indy anymore now, they're calling it something else this year, thanks to this awful split. This is yet one more reason why this split has to END.

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