Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
End of the Line
Cairo, NYŚWith a handful of spec cars piloted mostly by drivers unknown to all but a handful of the world's inhabitants, Champ Car's final race ever will provide, if nothing else, an apt illustration of what the CCWS has represented in recent years.
Ticket holders will be treated to a trademark OWRS field that is populated just enough to fulfill the obligation clause of the promoter's contract -- the City of Long Beach in this case.
At this point it is uncertain whether TV coverage will be provided and whether such coverage will be live or tape delayed. Regardless, a handful (by all ratings bureaus' standards) of viewers will be tuning in.
Somewhat of a novelty, participating drivers will earn points countable toward the 2008 championship in the freshly-unified f-inheritor series. That's actually not so different from what might have happened had Bruno Junqueira driven to a victory in the Indy 500 a couple of years ago instead of being driven out of the Speedway in the back of an ambulance.
In other words, blind-eye scheduling which enabled Champ Car teams to run at Indy -- usually to the detriment of those teams' ongoing Champ Car development -- has been going on for years. Former Vanderbilt Cup winner Paul Tracy, who may not get the opportunity to drive for points of any kind at Long Beach or anywhere else in 2008, can explain that concept in great detail.
In contrast, retiree Jimmy Vasser, winner of the first V-Cup awarded to a CART/Champ Car points champion, has installed himself in one of his own IRL team's leftover DP01's to help increase the aforementioned LBGP's field and because "...it will be a lot of fun and a great honor to take part in the final Champ Car race."
Those of us who have enjoyed both Vasser's career and personality might instinctively root for Jeemy's success in the not-so-grand finale. Older fans (this renegade scribe certainly resembles that remark), especially, would enjoy the bragging rights of a George Forman-esque upset victory. The press, especially on the left coast, would certainly make a big story of it.
However, Vasser is an accomplice of the accomplice of the splitter of our beloved speed sport by virtue of his co-ownership of PKV Racing (or whatever they're calling it in the IRL).
If JV truly cared as much about Champ Car fans as expressed in the media announcement of his Long Beach Grand Prix run he might have been more outspoken about the "unification" scam that has been perpetrated by his partner Kevin Kalkhoven and the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He might, at least, have made some kind of an "I'm sorry Champ Car can't survive" speech.
An argument can probably be made that Kaptain Kangaroo and the Speedway inheritor scammed Jimmy Vasser along with the rest of us. But at this point it sure looks like Jeemy is on board the Mergification Train, if not one of its conductors.
Nonetheless, for old time sake, I guess the Champ Car World Series is entitled to give us one more handful of crap before dousing the lights. This is the end of the line for the Champ Car Train.
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