Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
Athens, NY—Now is the time for those who have been chanting the unification mantra to prove to the rest of us they are not liars; that their love for open-wheel racing burns so hot as to compel them to show their support for the Champ Car World Series simply because its road/street races represent at least 50% of the allure of our American open-wheel racing—by their own estimate.
As a result of a recent Bankruptcy Court decision that designates OWRS to be the exclusive replacement for CART as the owner and sanctioning body of its multi-disciplined series, the new partnership will be quite eager to accommodate new and returning teams.
Messieurs Forsythe, Gentilozzi, and Kalkhoven, because of their fierce desire to prove that their business plan can succeed, will certainly welcome all manner of recalcitrant owners with open arms. While some stalwart Champ Car fans will initially feel otherwise, rest assured that even the animosity of these die-hards would quickly fade once you unifiers put your cash where your cake holes are.
Returnees should take comfort in the knowledge that a surprisingly large contingent of open-wheel racing fans who profess to hold an unending grudge against the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have, themselves, gotten caught up in the annual May festivities in recent years simply because their favorite—blameless—CART drivers could be seen there in abundance.
As you know, we all have our weaknesses. Thankfully, however, we are all capable of lifestyle changes. Your old friend/nemesis, Alex Zanardi, represents the perfect illustration of the truth of this premise. Just bring a few Brazilians and Europeans back where they belong and watch what happens.
Business-wise, equipment spec freezes, a streamlined race schedule, reduced overseas travel and other soon-to-be announced inducements will make the economic feasibility of running Champ Cars more favorable to team owners than an equal commitment to the all-ovals series. This cost-effectiveness advantage, incidentally, is now a two-year tradition as a result of the inheritor’s Do-it-on-the-Cheap Vision gone myopic.
It is true, as always, that many sponsors will want their Indy exposure. But knowing how keen the Speedway owner is for unification, it may be safe to assume that he will make it as easy as ever for one-offers to join him at his series’ marquee event. Besides, the Speedway’s 33-car race day grid tradition could be in jeopardy again this year if some of you guys don’t show up.
Please keep in mind that it wasn’t anything anyone from either series said that scotched the serious merger discussions that were rampant prior to the court’s decision.
If there is any one person who set himself up to be the anti-reunification scapegoat, it is Judge Frank Otte. What the heck does Judge Otte know about motorsports, anyhow? He probably got famous throwing the book at amateur speeders during his early years in the lower courts. So put the horns on him, where they belong, and leave it at that.
We all look forward to our beloved speed sport being whole again. You unifiers will have our undying gratitude once this finally comes to pass.
Of course, Mario Andretti will try to take most of the credit, but we will always remember the truth.
Copyright © 2004 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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