Let's celebrate the unification, then roll up our sleeves and go to work
The hard part is over. The Indy Racing League and Champ Car finally decided to play along. But now that the divorce is officially over, the big question remains: What do we do now?
Updated: February 23, 2008, 11:42 PM ETBy John Oreovicz | Special to ESPN.com
There's a classic moment near the end of the 1972 movie "The Candidate" when Robert Redford's character, Bill McKay, having scored an unexpected victory in a bitter and hard-fought election, turns to his managers and says, "What do we do now?" American open-wheel racing finds itself in a somewhat similar situation. Almost from the moment Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George formed the Indy Racing League in March 1994 as an alternative to the open-wheel racing series operated by Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc., the call went out from practically every entity invested in the sport for the two sides to settle their differences. With the trump card of the Indianapolis 500 in his hand all along, George and the IRL outlasted CART, which squandered an early advantage in the unofficial competition to control the sport before declining into bankruptcy after the 2003 season. Well-heeled team owners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven stepped in and kept CART's open-wheel formula going as the Champ Car World Series for another four years, but they ultimately decided it would be better to switch than fight. And now, after several weeks of frenzied negotiations that followed some 13 years of failed attempts, the deal is finally done. The Champ Car World Series has been laid to rest -- mercifully, some will say -- and open-wheel racing will proceed into the future as one entity with George as its sole and undisputed leader. What do we do now? First, try to put aside any resentment that might still be lingering from the split and its aftermath. This is a time to celebrate. For the good of the sport, unification is something that needed to happen a long time ago. Then we roll up our sleeves. As difficult and protracted as the process to merge the sport was, the hard work is just beginning. "We all have to recognize the biggest challenges lie ahead, and how will we deal with them?" Kalkhoven told ESPN.com. "There won't be a sudden miracle cure. It's going to be a hard slog, and if there is a disappointment, the blame will start again.
|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|
John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com.
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