It is finally official, the IRL & CCWS are one. The way it should have always been. Sour grapes of the past aside though, as Karl Kalkhoven said: “Now is not the time to look back”
Greg MacPherson from Inside Track live blogged the press conference yesterday and has some great insight.
Full length (really long) press release after the break
For Immediate Release
BRIGHT FUTURE AWAITS UNIFIED OPEN WHEEL RACING SERIES
Champ Car, Indy Racing League Work Together To Form Unified IndyCar Series
The future of open wheel racing is bright, according to the owners of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League who stood together publicly Wednesday for the first time since signing an historic agreement in principle to unify the sport.
“Our whole racing community is excited and energized about unification and everybody is working hard toward the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 29,” said Tony George, CEO and founder of the Indy Racing League.
“I’m thrilled we now have a unified open wheel racing series that will feature great drivers, a diversity of world-class venues and numerous top-notch teams,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of the Champ Car World Series and PKV Racing team. “I applaud Tony George for his commitment to the sport, and join him in now focusing solely on the future of open wheel racing in North America. I’m eager for our team to race this season, and certainly will do all that I can to help advance our sport in the short- and long-term.”
The two men appeared at a news conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway Wednesday where the IndyCar Series starts its season Saturday night, March 29.
Joining them were several owners and drivers as well as industry representatives who support unifying the sport. Champ Car owners present along with Kalkhoven included Eric Bachelart, Dale Coyne, Paul Stoddart, Keith Wiggins and Derrick Walker. Champ Car drivers present included Franck Perera, Bruno Junqueira, Graham Rahal, Alex Tagliani, Oriol Servia, Simon Pagenaud, Nelson Philippe, Robert Doornbos and Will Power. The Champ Car teams and drivers did not have time to prepare for this practice session so the IndyCar Series will add an additional practice session dedicated to them in March.
IndyCar owners present included Michael Andretti, Kim Green, Kevin Savoree, Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ IndyCar drivers present included Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick.
IndyCar Series officials expect several teams from Champ Car to join the series this season, some as early as the first race, while others should join by the time practice starts for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 4.
Race venues from the Champ Car Series will be added to the ICS schedule in 2008. Discussions are proceeding to add events in Edmonton, Canada and Surfers Paradise Australia to the current 16 race schedule.
The historic Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car race finale will be run the same weekend as the already scheduled ICS race in Motegi, Japan. Champ Car will operate the Long Beach race and Champ Car teams will compete. IndyCar Series points and prize money will be awarded for both races to teams who are
participating in the IndyCar Series. Beginning in 2009, the Grand Prix of Long Beach will be part of the ICS schedule.
As the 2009 schedule is prepared, the IndyCar Series intends to review all recent Champ Car and current IndyCar Series races, as well as other opportunities to produce the most viable schedule of short ovals, super speedways, street courses and road courses that will be of interest to fans, promoters, sponsors and racers.
The ICS will use Dallara chassis and Honda engines in the 2008 season, and George thanked representatives of each company for their help in unifying the sport.
“I want to especially thank Al Speyer of Bridgestone-Firestone and Robert Clarke and Erik Berkman of Honda Performance Development for their overwhelming support of this initiative to unify our sport…
“Finally, it is due to the efforts of Kevin and Gerald Forsythe that we are able to stand together today looking forward to the growth of the sport that we all love,” George said.
* Champ Car teams committing to the IndyCar Series and demonstrating the ability to fund operating budgets will be provided:
* One-year Honda basic engine lease
* Two Dallara chassis from a pool of new and used cars to the extent of the pool available for up to two seasons
* $1.2 million per car from the IndyCar TEAM program
* At least two race venues from the Champ Car World Series schedule will be added to the IndyCar Series schedule in 2008 if the parties reach agreement. Discussions are proceeding to add events in Edmonton, Canada and Surfers Paradise, Australia to this year’s current 16-race schedule. The IndyCar Series has scheduled meetings with both of these venues to discuss the
* The historic Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car race finale will be run the same weekend as the already scheduled IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan. The 2008 Grand Prix of Long Beach will be Champ Car’s final race. Champ Car will promote the race as its “Finale.” Champ Car will conduct the race and the IndyCar Series will require any teams taking advantage of the incentives offered by the Indy Car Series to compete at Long Beach. Since these teams will be missing the Motegi race, they will be awarded points and prize money as if they were competing at Motegi. Beginning in 2009, the Grand Prix of Long Beach will be part of the IndyCar Series schedule.
* IndyCar Series officials met with Champ Car World Series teams at an IndyCar Series “orientation” held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday. The nine Champ Car teams
that participated in the 2007 season were all in attendance.
* IndyCar Series officials developed an assistance program that assigned an IndyCar Series team to work directly with a Champ Car World Series team (i.e. Rahal Letterman Racing will work with Newman/Haas/Lanigan.)
* IndyCar Series officials have scheduled individual meetings with Champ Car World Series teams.
* IndyCar Series officials began preliminary discussions with ESPN/ABC regarding the expanded 2008 IndyCar Series schedule.
* In the agreement in principle, the IndyCar Series will purchase various non-tangible assets such as intellectual property and historical records from Champ Car. In addition, the IndyCar Series will purchase the Champ Car Medical transporter.
IndyCar TEAM Primer
IndyCar TEAM (Team Enhancement/Allocation Matrix) was introduced last October and was designed to be an expansion of the IndyCar Series Leader’s Circle Program while further enhancing the value of racing in the IndyCar Series. The Leader’s Circle Program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams which participate in the series full time. The program leverages relationships built by the Indy Racing League with its partners, sponsors and suppliers to provide benefits directly to the teams.
Beginning in 2008, the program will award a minimum of $1.2 million to each car entered to compete the entire season, including the Indianapolis 500. By implementing IndyCar TEAM, the Indy Racing League is dissolving its existing event purse formula.
The rollout of IndyCar TEAM was designed to be a baseline program designed to increase as the series grows and is successful in attracting sponsors.
From: John Griffin, Indy Racing League