Sunday, July 23, 2006


This afternoon: Sitting in the living room with the front door wide open to catch the cool breeze, while watching the CBS broadcast of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Edmonton. The sweet sound of 750 hp turbo-charged engines blaring from the speakers.

During commercials, another sound comes drifting in through the open door: the lower-powered, normally aspirated chug of the full IRL field running around the track less than a mile from here in the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile.

*If you aren't a long time Champ Car (formerly CART) fan, you may not fully understand how strange this really felt. Open wheel racing in the US was at its zenith in the early 1990's, with full fields, competitive teams and boatloads of sponsors. The harm Tony George has done is almost irreparable; the split he forced frustrated sponsors, enraged loyal fans and confused casual spectators. Neither series can be said to be fully healthy today, although Champ Car is on the financial upswing, while the IRL is floundering. Talk of unification surfaces with fair regularity, but the truth of the matter is that the Three Amigos of Champ Car - owners Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi - are much too astute businessmen to allow Tony George to run anything, and Tony will not merge the series unless he has control. What does the future hold for open-wheel racing in the US? Your guess is as good as mine.

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