IRL vs Champ Car: the end game?

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It’s the time of year when the terrible state of open wheel racing in America makes everyone start to ask why the IRL and Champ Car can’t kiss and make up and form a unified series.

Champ Car has lost Sebastien Bourdais to F1. His former team, Newman-Haas, is threatening to defect to the IRL in 2009 if the two series do not merge.

Raphael Matos has already gone to the IRL because, despite winning Atlantics last year, he needed to bring sponsorship to fund a full-time ride.

Not that the IRL is having a better time clinging onto its talent. Over the winter the IRL has waved goodbye to 2007 champion Dario Franchitti, 2006 champion Sam Hornish Jnr has followed him, and 2005 champion Dan Wheldon apparently wants to follow.

There’s no denying the popularity of NASCAR, but that does not convince me that a well-funded open wheel series combining road, street and oval tracks can’t thrive in America. Franchitti, Hornish and Wheldon are top drivers and they aren’t going to NASCAR because of some new-found dislike of single seater racing – they’re going there because that’s where the money is.

The stumbling block to re-unification is the same in 2008 as it was in 1996 – egos. Hopefully the pitiful sight of two series in their death throes will force a little humility on the relevant parties, and we can start looking towards 2008 as an interim year before a long-overdue re-unification in 2009.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “IRL vs Champ Car: the end game?”

  1. Mecolme Fizer
    5th February 2008, 3:13

    I work as a turn Marshall for SCCA and go to alot of these races to work. Yes I would like to see these guys get back together. It is said to see some of the drivers leave but there is nothing there to keep them to race. I don’t think its just cause of the $ that some drivers leave look who drives the 42 car in Nascar. He left F1 and we all know they get Big money to drive.

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