Ah time for the Monday morning blog…I was sitting down at the computer with my steaming cup of coffee when I received an email press release that made me sit back and think for a minute… perhaps hell has frozen over.
The title of the release? “Open Wheel Unification”. Now in our world of Circle Track mag the words “open wheel” conjure up thoughts of sprint cars, midgets and modifieds, but this press release had to do with that other form of open wheel racing, Indy cars.
While Circle Track doesn’t generally cover Indy Car racing, I could not help but throw my two cents in about this subject Here’s the low-down.
Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George (he’s the dude who owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and owners of the Champ Car World Series have completed an agreement in principle that will unify major American open-wheel racing for 2008. They signed the agreement on Friday February 22. All I’ve got to say is:
It’s about time.
Years ago the Indy 500 was THE race in the U.S. but in-fighting among the sports power brokers, a lack of good marketing focus and the eventual split between George and CART allowed NASCAR to step in an eat their lunch. Today ratings for the Indy 500 pale in comparison to that other Memorial Day race NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
With open wheel racing loosing their young stars, like Sam Hornish and Dario Franchitti to NASCAR, George and his peers over at Champ Car (the former CART) had to do something. Let’s face it, if they didn’t Indy style open wheel cars would just fade away.
The announcement is good news for Indy racing fans. But make no mistake about it. There is a lot of work to be done to get big time open wheel racing back on track. Still, if George and the others are committed to the idea of a single open wheel series in America than all will benefit, drivers, team owners, sponsors and fans.
Funny, it took these guys almost a decade to wake up and smell the coffee. Hopefully they understand that it will take another decade to repair the damage they have done to Indy Car racing.