Open Wheel Talks Reunion
April 19, 2005 | 11:03 A.M. EST
SPEED Channel's Robin Miller is reporting Indy Racing League president Tony George and Champ Car World Series head Dick Eidswick met to discuss the state of American open wheel racing. And although both sides indicated not much was achieved, the face-to-face, at the very least, shows each party recognizes the need to change the current landscape.
Both the IRL and Champ Car need to introduce new rules packages in time for the 2007 season. Common sense would dictate the engine and chassis specifications for the two rival circuits would be the same and allow teams and drivers to compete in both series.
But the last thing this open wheel war has ever shown is common sense.
An original report had George buying Champ Car, which was saved from extinction last year by the trio of Gerry Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi. That has since been denied and the Champ Car management team indicated they have no plans to sell the sanctioning body.
The only hope this recent spark of sanity has generated is the possibility of the two sides finding a common set of rules, running separate schedules but coming together for a handful of mega-events; e.g. the Indianapolis 500, Long Beach Grand Prix, Molson Indy Toronto and a possible race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Defending Champ Car World Series titlist Sebastien Bourdais hinted something was in the air after the IRL made its street circuit debut in St. Petersburg last month.
"It's just too bad there weren't 30 cars on the racetrack and we were all together," said Bourdais, who will join Newman-Haas teammate Bruno Junqueira at the Indianapolis 500 this year. "But it's going to happen sooner or later. It's just a matter of time."
Reports have racing legend Mario Andretti as the catalyst of the recent talks between the two circuits. Andretti's son Michael has become one of the most successful car owners in the sport with his IRL Andretti-Green Racing team winning last year's championship with Tony Kanaan. AGR's four teams swept the top four spots at St. Petersburg.
"The technical side is the first building block," Andretti told Miller. "And it needs to happen quickly."