Thursday, February 23, 2006

Auto Racing: Unification of Open Wheel Racing At Hand?

This actually could be a reality, and I know I have said that tons of times before, here is the Autoweek story that broke this:

More than a decade after Tony George cut ties with CART and launched the Indy Racing League, after years of declining popularity and failed efforts to end the rift in Indy-style racing, all indicators suggest there is essential agreement to merge the IRL and Champ Car World Series for the 2007 season.



Turbos, and 50/50 ownership!



Points of agreement include 50/50 ownership of the merged series, which will be independent of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with George and Kalkhoven acting as co-chairmen. Both Honda (IRL) and Cosworth (Champ Car), with or without Ford badging, are in. Bridgestone is in as tire supplier, though it's not certain whether that would be with the Bridgestone or Firestone brand. There may already be agreement on more specific points, but those who know are unwilling to share that information for fear of scuttling the process or enflaming the sensitivities of self-interested parties in both camps before the deal is done.

Based on the current state of affairs, several other things are apparent. The more traditional 2.65-liter turbo V8 currently used in Champ Car seems the more likely choice, as opposed to the IRL's normally aspirated 3.5. Champ Car has a new chassis well into development with Panoz (one of the IRL's current suppliers), scheduled to debut in 2007.

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