Champ Car, Indy Racing League working on truce
By CURT CAVIN
The off-again, on-again talks between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series appear to be on again in an 11th-hour attempt to unify the two series for 2008.
IRL officials confirmed on Friday (Feb. 8) that league chairman Tony George and two of his top associates, along with Robert Clarke, the former head of Honda Performance Development, will fly to Motegi, Japan, this weekend to meet with Motegi track officials. Their pitch: Moving the April 19 Motegi race so that this year's Long Beach Grand Prix can be added to the IndyCar Series schedule.
Long Beach, which has been on Champ Car's schedule since 1984, is set to host its race April 20. The Long Beach promoter has a contract with the California city to stage the event and says the date is not changeable. Honda owns the Motegi track, which explains Clarke's presence on the trip with George.
The Motegi/Long Beach situation is just one of the key issues yet to be resolved, but George's willingness to fly 13 hours from Indianapolis to Japan indicates he is dedicated to finding a solution.
There are several things that must be accounted for before the two series can become one.
Champ Car has a handful of contracts with race promoters that need to be resolved. George said he's willing to add as many of those races to the IRL's 2008 schedule as possible. Date conflicts with existing IRL races are part of the obstacles, he said.
George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven insist an agreement is not yet in place, but it appears the settling of the schedules could go a long way toward assisting that.
George still says that the deadline has passed for Champ Car teams to get free cars and engines from the IRL, even if they can prove they have enough sponsorship to operate them. But that offer might reappear if a deal is reached.
The IndyCar Series' first open test is set for Feb. 27-28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. IRL President Brian Barnhart said it would take "about a week" for a Champ Car team to prepare its car to participate in the session. Those cars would come from teams already in the IRL.
Champ Car, Indy Racing League working on truce - AutoWeek Magazine