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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

A Yen for Reunification
4/13/06

Athens, NY—Aside from yet another uninspiring reiteration of the names of the traitors present in Long Beach this past weekend, mixed with an expected sprinkling of nauseating nostalgic reunification sappiness, there was a single provocative line in David Phillips’ 4/11/06 SPEED piece Just Like Old Times…Sorta.

“…when culling the latest rumors from the grapevine or the Internet in the coming days, the negotiating parties would do well to bear in mind not only the potential benefits of a unified series, but who stands to gain by sabotaging such a merger.”

Take as much time as you need to consider who would want to throw a monkey wrench into the “negotiations” but it will be difficult to name specific parties…other than, as was suggested in my last missive, one or more of the blame game-playing negotiating parties themselves.

Would aggrieved fans that vividly remember American open-wheel racing for what it was and what it could have been by now—had Kevin Kalkhoven’s new buddy not ruined it—weep over the ultimate demise of our beloved speed sport resultant of the failure to reunify? Conversely, would they actually work to sabotage reunification and, if so, would their warnings be heeded by Kalkhoven et al?

As a self-proclaimed spokesman for those of us who have been forced, for more than a decade, not only to take sides but to undergo major lifestyle changes as a result of the split, I remind you that we resolved, early on, never to support any entity from which the splitter would receive any form of tribute. But are there enough stalwarts left to impact the negotiations promising to proclaim “we’re outta here!” immediately after the announcement of a merger or some other new business that includes the names of the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with those of the current Champ Car World Series principals and/or others?

Would the splitter walk out of the talks because one of his original supporters, AJ Foyt, is the lone voice among original and latter-day jumpers who promises that his disappearing act will commence with reunification?

Will the self-serving likes of Captain Kangaroo influence the inheritor or any of the potential suppliers of a reunified series with his pessimistic rhetoric? "I'd like to have it happen,” Roger Penske said recently. “But I don't see what's going to be the economic benefit today. What are we going to do…run a different car, a different engine, run all road races, going to have to run 29 races? What's going to happen? Tell me."

The rest of the jumpers have climbed aboard the reunification train because they, like most Champ Car team owners, believe that sponsorships and other revenues will surely increase with their participation in a combined series. Family ties, as well, are an important lure for at least two of f-inheritor’s traitorous team owners.

What about the press and self-styled web pundits? Well, they started the rumormongering and they can only be heroes if and when their rumor proves true.

What about SMASHCAR and ForMoola One? On one hand you could say that a strong, united American open-wheel series that includes a race at Indy would threaten them. By the same token, however, a regenerated Indianapolis Motor Speedway would probably serve to enhance the mystique value—and ticket sales—of their events there.

As for engine and chassis suppliers, most that ever desired participation in either or both series have already come and gone of their own volition. Cosworth, of course, has become a proprietary brand and its original parent Ford and cousin Mazda are participating happily in Champ Car and Atlantics.

That leaves Honda, the lone current f-inheritor engine supplier, as a potential monkey wrench thrower.

For while Honda’s racing representative, Robert Clarke, has postured himself as the go-between, if not actual precipitant of the reunification talks, continuing to proclaim that "Honda will do anything to move the process of reunification forward" one can only imagine what he might say, do, or threaten to do if Kevin Kalkhoven were to convince his new-found pal that a Cosworth spec series makes the most sense for a reunified series.

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

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

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