Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
Without a Trace
Cairo, NY—Not surprisingly, Champ Car's farewell race, the 2008 edition of the Long Beach Grand Prix (the series' marquee event since the Indianapolis 500 was cut from its schedule in 1996) is in serious jeopardy.
Instead of selling out to the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or making other plans far enough in advance of the start of a new schedule, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe waited until the eleventh hour while teams from both series were in the process of shaking down in preparation of their season openers to finalize their sell-out.
Call it spitefulness, loss cutting, or a split within a split, but any way you slice it, the smell of this rotten baloney perfectly illustrates the amateurish, egotistical manner in which the open-wheel racing players have conducted themselves and their business.
Once again Forsythe, who everyone assumed would continue his Champ Car participation in Long Beach (at least for old time's sake and for just a few dollars more) after he walked away from last week's "merger," has waited until the eleventh hour to leave his employees and Champ Car fans in yet another lurch.
Paul Tracy (vexed for months last year as a result of media reports that Team Forsythe would be "re-negotiating" his lucrative contract for 2008) is quoted by Robin Miller regarding his reaction to word that Gerry Forsythe has opted out of Champ Car participation effective immediately, leaving the veteran driver without a Long Beach ride let alone a lucrative contract:
“I got a call from Neil (Micklewright, president of Forsythe Racing) this morning and he said, ‘I’ve got some bad news for you,’” related Tracy from his home in Las Vegas.
“Neil said he’d been trying to get a hold of my manager but he was having a colonoscopy today. That’s ironic ‘cause that’s what I feel like I got.”
Perhaps what PT said to RM next was the coup de gras that put remaining Champ Car loyalists -- including some fan website owners -- over the fence in either the pro or anti f-inheritor direction.
“I want to be part of this new league, I want to run at Indianapolis again, and I want to stay in open wheel racing,” said Tracy, who learned by a phone call that Gerry Forsythe was shutting down his team and would not be competing in the unified Indy Racing League.
“This is the first time in my career I’ve not known what I’m doing and it’s pretty late in the deal to just find this out.
“But I’m hoping I can still find something competitive.”
So are we Paul and we'll certainly miss you if you decide to drive what you once dubbed as "crapwagons." At least the mystery about your on-again-off-again Forsythe contract has been solved.
But those of us who gave up the Indy 500 cold turkey after a lifetime of addiction will certainly get over the loss of Champ Car's oldest, longest-standing driver. Sadly however, to us his disappearance will be without a trace.
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