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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

The Blame Game
("Tony-Tony pho-phony bo-nanna-fanna pho-phony…")


Athens, NY—Which part of the following recently reported quote from the splitter of our beloved speed sport regarding open-wheel racing’s so-called reunification is difficult for any student of post-split open-wheel racing—on either side—to understand?

"There is a lot of hair on this cat—it's not easy. Nothing is imminent."

Granted, the inheritor’s attitude is a bit more politically correct than back when guru Maharishi Mahesh Leo Mehl tutored him for months until he finally memorized the mantra "the Speedway doesn’t need to negotiate with anyone." Nonetheless, consider this story’s California source [RACER/SPEED is running the story crediting a Los Angeles Times interview for their latest official reunification update] and the crowd that the headstrong Hoosier has been spending time with lately—especially one somewhat genteel, diplomatic Silicon Valley transplant VIP—and you can begin to understand his slightly more laid-back tone.

But how can you REALLY know, despite the talking heads’ and self-styled web pundits’ affirmation that ongoing Champ Car/IRL talks are serious, that this is merely much ado about nothing?

Just analyze the next italicized quote from the world’s foremost self-lost millionaire and try to convince yourself, let alone Champ Car loyalists, that he isn’t in it merely for the pre-season publicity and the opportunity to play his convoluted decade-old blame game with the media’s admitted Indycentrics. Furthermore, it’s pretty obvious that the splitter’s latest dance has been choreographed to absolve him of any future blame once the dust clears with no sign of a true merger or reunification in sight.

"It's fair to say we would both like to see a merger. I'm one of many people who believe that open-wheel racing would be better served by a unified IRL and Champ Car."

Right. And Fidel Castro recently made a five-hour speech in which he stressed over and over again: "What America needs is a good nickel cigar, and I’m the guy who’s gonna get the job done!"

Kevin Kalkhoven also confirmed, in the referenced Los Angeles Times interview, that he has been involved in reunification talks. The Champ Car World Series co-owner/mouthpiece added:

"We're trying to develop a plan [that] has to be a fresh start…In other words, we can't have one side using the other side's equipment or anything like that, because it would give one side an advantage."

One of the world’s slickest business minds is dealing with his enemy in total fairness and altruism? Among Kalkhoven’s many trump cards is Champ Car’s ability to produce and provide the R&D and equipment that could not only work for both sides but could, once and for all, loosen outside engine manufacturers’ often crippling hold on open-wheel racing and force all engine makers to compete fairly and according to house rules.

So do you really see a shrewd cookie like Kevin Kalkhoven ceding such an advantage when the other guy’s only trump card remains the venue/event that still, unfortunately, has the potential to reverse the fates of both open-wheel racing series? Me neither.

Obviously, Kalkhoven is also creating an alibi that will absolve him of guilt once it is reported, to the disappointment of those who optimistically predicted otherwise, that "the talks" ended up being nothing more than talk.

Road Rage! An op-ed feature by Ed Donath.

Copyright © 2006 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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