Long overdue open-wheel merger stops the bleeding ... finally
Will American open-wheel racing ever be the same? Not a chance, writes Terry Blount. But Friday's announcement of an IRL-Champ Car merger is a start.
Updated: February 22, 2008, 9:37 PM ETBy Terry Blount | ESPN.com
The cold war of open-wheel racing is over. But the cold, hard facts of a 13-year bitter feud have left a scar that won't easily heal.Finally, mercifully, Indy-car racing will have one league for the first time since 1995. Officials from the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series signed the papers Friday, announcing the anticipated merger.All the top open-wheel drivers will compete on the same track at the same time for one championship. It is long overdue and should have happened years ago.So much damage was done. So many fans were lost.The confusion over two leagues, often racing on the same day in different locations, made it almost impossible for casual fans to understand.They just didn't get it. Neither did some of the most sophisticated open-wheel followers.Fans, sponsors, drivers and team owners picked sides and cursed each other. Eventually, many of those fans and sponsors left for good. So did some drivers and team owners. But this is a day to look ahead with hope. For racing fans who loved the glory days of A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, the Unsers and many others, this is a special moment.Will it be like that again? Not a chance. Not for many years, if ever. But this is a first step toward healing the deep wounds Indy-car officials inflicted on themselves for more than a decade.Sadly, many of the top open-wheel drivers are long gone, finding more lucrative options for their racing careers in NASCAR.Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr., Patrick Carpentier all came in the last two seasons. None of them have stayed had they knew the merger was coming. For them, it's too little, too late.
|Shoot For The Stars|
|Now that American open-wheel racing is back under one umbrella, John Oreovicz is licking his chops trying to create the dream IndyCar schedule. Story|
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