It's a tragedy of titanic proportions for people who love racing. I’ve been in mourning for weeks. The idiot inheritor finally has what he always wanted, absolute power over American-style open wheel racing. But he did it by utterly destroying the sport and everything that was great about it. His scorched earth policy has left us with scrawny fields; more weak teams than strong; a majority of piss-poor drivers; poorly promoted race tracks; few tracks who will even still talk to us; ugly looking, horrible sounding and dangerous race cars; and about a tenth the audience we enjoyed in 1994. The Indy 500 is a pale shadow of itself. The spectacle and worldwide respect is gone, never to return, I fear. The IRL is in rough shape even with the takeover. If Honda pulls out, it could collapse altogether.
Don’t get me wrong, CART and Champ Car are no angels in this matter. The CART IPO was probably the single biggest blunder in US racing history because it decoupled the teams financial incentives from their incentive to put their individual best efforts on the track and support the series whole-heartedly. Despite Chris Pook’s heroic efforts, the CART bankruptcy was a well deserved finale for the misguided greed of the owners. Also, the teams never being able to agree upon a benevolent dictator to run the series fairly, with all parties benefiting from the good times, caused a lot of their own problems. Lastly, CART should have moved Hell to run the Indy 500 every year after the 25/8 rule was removed and stuck it to the joke teams that were running the series at the time. Grabbing the lion’s share of the Indy pot may have folded the series in its infancy.
Champ Car continually undercapitalized the efforts for its entire existence. Not paying for the best people and the best television to expand their series caused them to be also-rans in the minds of the folks who were their pool for expanding their fan base. The unequal ownership and vision for the series also hurt their growth.
It is rumored that Tony George spent more than $100 million of the family fortune and the NASCAR race income to support the IRL. Had he truly believed in his “vision” of American oval track heroes racing at Indy, he could have poured that money into a top-flight team along with ladder series cars for promising drivers dirt drivers to hone their rear-engine pavement skills. Had he stuck to his knitting while promoting the hell out of the Indy 500, we might be discussing today which racing series is the most powerful in the world, Champ Car or NASCAR.
"I am a 12 foot lizard." GCR Jan 31, 2006