Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Done.

Thank you, CART/Champ Car. You brought much fun and excitement to my life over the past damn near 30 years. You have no idea how much you will be missed.

TFG sucks donkey balls.



At Saturday, 23 February, 2008, Blogger dr sardonicus said...

But it was either make some kind of deal or watch the whole circuit go down the tubes. I'm sure you'll find a way to enjoy IRL eventually, even if Tony George does suck donkey balls.

At Saturday, 23 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

A deal would have been acceptable. This wasn't a deal, it was a wholesale takeover. It's TFG's chassis, engines and tracks. There is nothing of Champ Car left.

I won't say never ever, even though that's how I'm feeling now, but if I ever watch another American open wheel race, it'll be far in the future or some semblance of Champ Car can be seen - like turbos and pretty cars that don't fly into the air for no freaking reason and seriously maim or kill their drivers.

And personally, I would have rather seen the entire thing fail...both series and something rise from the ashes, instead of this wholesale give in to TFG bullshit.

At Saturday, 23 February, 2008, Blogger LL said...

Saw that on ESPN last night and I knew you'd be ecstatic. Glad you didn't disappoint.

You know... you could always come over to the dark side and watch NASCAR like the rest of us...

At Saturday, 23 February, 2008, Anonymous The Zombieslayer said...

Ah, now I know what you're talking about. yes, I've seen these races before on TV. I'd take them any day over NASCAR. Much more fun to watch.

At Saturday, 23 February, 2008, Blogger Jorge said...

Honestly, I know nothing about the differences between IRL and Champ. I have some questions, and please be assured they're asked out of genuine interest and curiosity.

The cars to me look the same. What is the difference in the chassis? And how much difference is there in engines? The last time I can recall hearing anything about engines on open wheel cars it was Lola, and I think they were somehow tied to Ford, but I could also be hallucinating that too.

What about the tracks, what's the difference there? My guess is that you're concerned that there'll only be big ovals going forward.

Next, what was the size of the IRL fan base and the size of the Champ fan base?

I know you hate this TFG guy the same way a Clevelander hates Art Model. I get that. But ultimately, isn't he a business man?

Here's why I ask. My guess is that you're not the only passionate fan of the Champ circuit. You're certainly not the only person who pumped dollars into travel, race tickets, merchandise, etc.

If I'm running a business that just bought out a competitor, I would sure as hell try and do something to keep customers of both businesses. Otherwise all I’ve done is buy more expense.

I realize big egos are involved, but generally dollars trump ego. What would be the benefit of erasing Champ like it never existed?

What I guess I'm really driving at is that while I understand, at least to some degree, your disappointment is that perhaps when the dust settles it might be at least something you can still enjoy.

Didn't the NBA make some changes when they merged with the ABA? What about when the two football leagues merged to form the NFL?

I know it won't be the same, but it seems to me like it would be good for business to have some kind of legacy of Champ live on in the IRL.

Does that make any sense at all?

At Sunday, 24 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - I try never to disappoint you.

ZS - Yes, my guys ran at San Jose the last few years. They were supposed to run at Laguna Seca this May.

Jorge - No problem on asking honest questions.

Cosmetically, the cars can look the same. The big difference is that the IRL cars have normally aspirated engines so they have a large air "tunnel" just above the driver's head. Champ Cars are turbocharged (sounds MUCH cooler) and there simply have a roll bar above/behind their heads.

The aerodynamics of the chassis are also very different as their cars are designed mainly for ovals as that was their raison d'etre, theoretically. And even though the chassis were specifically designed for ovals, they were designed exceptionally poorly and I can name four instances off the top of my head where the cars flew into the air for essentially no reason. Mario Andretti (miraculously walked away), Kenny Brack (did not walk away and spent MONTHS recovering), Tony Renna (who left our feeder series, the Atlantics to drive that car and I'm not sure he even drove in a race as his accident killed him) and Paul Dana (nobody I had ever heard of, but he also died).

And while no race car is perfectly safe, it's usually preferred that they don't take off as if they were airplanes.

Those examples don't even take into account the incredible number of lower back injuries that took out many drivers in the IRL, also due to the design of the car.

Lolas and Fords were us.

CART/Champ Car were known for racing small ovals (generally a mile to a mile & a half, i.e., Milwaukee, Chicago), large ovals (2 or 2.5 miles, i.e., Indy, Michigan), street circuits (Detroit, Denver, Long Beach, Miami, etc.), and natural terrain road courses (Road America, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio).

TFG got a bee in his bonnet back in 1994/95 and thought that what this country needed was an all-oval, all-American, open-wheel series to combat NASCAR. Now, if you read my comments from a two posts ago, you know that at the time, CART was growing and very popular.

Supposedly, he wanted a series that helped young American dirt track drivers get to Indy a la the 1960s.

Generally, both series were losing fans over the last few years because there was a significant lack of sponsorship dollars (economy and most going to NASCAR), so there were fewer and fewer cars. However, other than Indy and the racetracks where fans were forced to buy IRL tickets if they wanted their NASCAR tickets, the IRL did NOT sell well. We did a lot better, especially at street circuits. Last year was the first year in CART/Champ Car's history that we didn't have an oval race, as Milwaukee simply didn't draw the last few years.

Champ Car fans are a lot more loyal and a lot more knowledgeable, in general. IRL fans generally live in Indiana and thereabouts and don't travel to races beyond their immediate vicinity.

You'd think TFG was a business man, but you'd be wrong. He's a power-hungry asshole. He has gone through a very large percentage of the family fortune in his bid to be the Bill France, Jr. of open wheel racing. The only reason he's been able to get away with this is because dear old Grandpa was a chauvinist and gave TFG 51% while his two sisters shared 49% and therefore could never outvote him.

TFG doesn't give a flying fig about the fans. AT ALL! He thinks that the Champ Car fans will just follow along even though we've lost everything we loved: turbos, the DP-01, our racetracks and our name.

Okay, I understand your analogies but you have it backwards. It would have been the ABA taking over the stronger, more viable NBA. Or the WHA taking over the NHL. Except, in essence, I assume, the rules, etc. are the same in all of the leagues, so you're not really losing out, as long as your team is still around.

Also, if anybody believes that the Champ Car teams are going to be given equitable equipment, I'd have to accuse you of smoking something, because there's no way in friggin' hell, TFG wants my guys to come into his series and win anything at all. I can guaran-damn-tee that.

At Sunday, 24 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...


Champ Cars are turbocharged (sounds MUCH cooler) and simply have a roll bar above/behind their heads.

At Monday, 25 February, 2008, Blogger Beth said...

Jorge, stop stirring the pot, man.

Kat, I am totally lost on this sport, but I am sorry you feel bad!

At Monday, 25 February, 2008, Blogger Sal said...

I'm really sorry to hear of your loss. I know how much the races meant to you. Instead of fun exciting vacations watching cars, you may have to actually relax, or come hang out with me in SF.

At Monday, 25 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Beth - Thanks for having my back, but I think Jorge was just trying to understand. He's not always a pot-stirrer. ;-)

Sal - I was going to come to SF this year for the race in May and stay extra time to hang, but now I'll just come to SF. And stay with you. ;-)

At Monday, 25 February, 2008, Blogger fermicat said...

I don't get it, but I do. That is to say, this was not my particular sport, but I do have one, and I would be sick if it got screwed up beyond recognition.

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Fermi - I knew you would get it.

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Jorge said...


Thanks for that. Honestly I was not trying to get you fired up, they were honest questions, and I appreciate you taking the time to educate me.

It probably won't help, but I'll continue to hope that someone explains to TFG that now that he's "won" it makes good sense to try an retain as much of the fan base as possible.

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger mr. schprock said...

Wow! All those Boston drivers! Great shots of Storrow Drive and the Expressway!

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Anonymous Woof said...

True. It's done - and not a good situation. It's going to be interesting to see what may happen in 2009, however.

The IRL actually went back to Mid-Ohio last year - and they were smart to be in a tie-in with the American Lemans race, which is happening again this year.

For me, a big thing will be to see if tracks like Toronto, Cleveland, and especially Road America make a reappearance in 2009. These were very good tracks in CART, making good attendance, money, and very solid different type of tracks (street, airport, and natural road course). If TFG has any chance of
getting back some of the CART fans, I think these races *MUST* be put on the future schedule.

As you've said earlier, Kathleen - the IRL has had much cluster-frickery concerning it's cars, safety records, and lack of turbos...

I don't have the vehemence that Kathleen has here, but I also don't find myself going to Mid-Ohio for the IRL, either - ALMS, and sports car racing are more likely to get my racing dollar now.


At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Jorge - I can tell when you're pushing buttons and when you're not. ;-) You can hope all you want, but TFG doesn't care. He's never cared about the fans and isn't about to start now.

Schprockie - Do Boston drivers really drive as badly as their reputation portends?

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Woof - I've always said that if TFG won, that I would go to ALMS, but that was before last year. The traitors are there now and seeing Roger Penske's Porsches beat the Audis last year at Road America pissed me off so badly that it wasn't even funny. As long as Roger and Michael and Adrian are there, I can't in good conscience give ALMS my money either.

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Jorge said...


I've driven in Boston and I've never thought it was that bad.

And you've given me an idea, so thanks.

At Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, Blogger Jorge said...

Oh yeah... and Kathleen.

As far as the Champ teams not getting the best cars, take heart.

One of my heroes is Chuck Yeager. In his autobiography Yeager says that the plane doesn’t matter, it’s all about the guy flying it.

He tells a story about beating a guy in a dogfight when he tested a MIG that was captured in Korea. Then they landed and switched planes. When they fought again, Yeager won.

I am willing to bet what works in high performance aircraft translates to high performance cars too.

At Wednesday, 27 February, 2008, Blogger Ben O. said...

I was going to comment on your post, but I happened to read the first comment and now I can't get the unfortunate image of freshly sucked donkey balls out of my head.

Thanks, this is going to require therapy.

Ben O.

At Wednesday, 27 February, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Jorge - Yes, in theory, it works that way, as well, as my Oriol showed a few years back by putting a Dale Coyne car (always the oldest machinery on the track, and generally thought to be held together with duct tape) on the podium at Laguna Seca. It was brilliant.

But the IRL teams also have YEARS worth of telemetry and information from each of the tracks about how best to set up the car for each individual track. The Champ Car guys won't have that information which puts them behind the eight ball.


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