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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

Business Models
1/20/04

Athens, NY—Suddenly, nearly a decade into the split of American open-wheel racing and at a hither-to-fore un-thought of juncture from which that estrangement may soon be about to see its unfortunate conclusion, the powers-that-be on both sides of the great divide have begun talking about business models as though either side ever knew the meaning of such a trendoid marketing phrase.

"The gentlemen [OWRS partners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi] who are bidding on the bankrupt CART assets are not responsible for CART’s bankruptcy,” the Speedway inheritor’s chief henchman, Fred Nation, pontificates in a recent official IRL position paper.

Certainly, it was Fred’s own idea to be so considerate of the feelings of the Champ Car troika, despite the fact that one of their members continues as CART’s largest shareholder. Even if he could figure out how to do so, Nation’s boss would never be so diplomatic himself.

“They’re trying to resuscitate a failed operation and take it forward with the same failed business model used in the past,” Fred Nation invokes those fashionable BM words in reference to OWRS.

Of course, all IRL press releases are constructed within the propaganda parameters of Dr. Joseph Goebels. Therefore, Nations’ summation includes yet another version of the inheritor’s Big Lie:

“We would argue that everyone’s energies would be better spent on a unified approach to open-wheel racing in North America."

Were that truly the case, reunification would have been wrought by now. In fact, Fred Nation’s benefactor would never have split open-wheel racing in the first place.

So with the IRL now poised to seize the bragging rights for open-wheel racing series management, what exactly did the business model of the ovals-only series entail? Well, during most of the Indy Car Company’s existence it was:

    A) To slap together a bunch of races before and after Memorial Weekend to make it look as though the Indy 500 isn’t the only reason for its existence.
    B) To attempt, at every possible opportunity, to convince CART team owners to change their allegiance—even if only during the Month of May—and to employ any combination of nostalgia, propaganda, rumor, and/or innuendo to reach that goal.

However, since Honda and Toyota forsook the Champ Car World Series for cheaper/easier technology that incorporates whatever allure Japanese folks perceive resides in the Indy 500, in conjunction with the skilled use of coercion-by-cash, most of CART’s major players have come along for the ride.

The IRL’s previous business model, therefore, is on hold and the inheritor is now merely a reactionary to the desires of these automakers. In other words, the current management of the IRL is very similar to CART’s post-split business model; complete with engine manufacturers and yes-nodding team owners who would eagerly duplicate all that once glorified the multi-disciplinary racing format of CART in its heyday.

But not to be outdone in the propaganda department by Freddy the Henchman, Paul Gentilozzi countered with this rah-rah gem designed to keep Champ Car stalwarts believing that OWRS really does have it all under control:

“We’ve spent six months to acquire a thorough understanding of the situation and develop a business plan [model] for the successful operation of the series. We are steadfast in our dedication and commitment to continue the Champ Car World Series for the millions of loyal open-wheel racing fans throughout North America and beyond,” says Gentilozzi.

That’s all well and good, Trans-Am Man, but looking at “North America and beyond” objectively, who do you think the cities of, say, New Orleans or Stockholm, would rather deal with—you or one of the largest car companies on earth?

If there is one thing that “the millions of loyal open-wheel racing fans” can take hope in, it is that the Speedway inheritor will grow tired, once again, of outsiders wielding so much influence in his affairs. At that point, we might finally see an American open-wheel racing series employing a business model that completely ignores the Indianapolis 500.

Copyright © 2004 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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