As the open-wheel world turns…

So yesterday, out of frustration, I wrote an op-ed piece for CCW.net, writing about the lack of any solid information coming from anyone anywhere since the “big announcement” (take your pick on that…)

As Murphy’s law would have it, shortly after going live with that, two more black cloud announcements dropped into my inbox.

The Grand Prix of Houston officially announced the cancellation of their race. That, in and of itself, was neither shocking nor surprising. Houston was never on the “maybe” list for 2008, and Lanigan had already made public statements intimating this would be the outcome. What was disturbing to learn however, was that the entire event has been scrapped. The ALMS, and all it’s support races, lose an event on their already sparse schedule. Ah … the trickle down effect.

Moments later, the bigger bombshell: Sierra Sierra announced they were pulling out of the Atlantic Championship. This, to me, was the bigger and more messy announcement. The ramifications of this one are much larger. This is the defending championship team. This is one of the better funded/sponsored teams. If they are convinced that this is going to damage them and their bottom line, what the hell does this mean for the smaller, less funded teams.

A couple of thoughts:

I too thought the same thing when I heard the Atlantics were going out on their own (or hitching up with IMSA) What is the end game from there? The direct path to a seat in the big show is now a detour. This can’t be appealing to either sponsors or drivers, unless their idea of the big show is ALMS and not Indy.

Next, I wonder how much of their decision stemmed from the bitterness over the shitty handling of Raphael Matos and the “2 million” in scholarship money. I sensed from conversations I had with folks directly involved with the team that this left a real bad taste in their mouth.

My sense is that they will jump over the the IPS.
(what should have happened is that the IPS was “absorbed” into the Atlantics, and the Atlantics became the official feeder series to the Indy Racing League, but that is merely my humble opinion)

So how many more shoes will drop? I predict a cloud burst of Uggs and Nikes in the next week. Stay on the porch kids. They don’t make umbrellas strong enough for this kind of shit storm.

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5 responses to “As the open-wheel world turns…

  1. Mike Lanigan has been talking closely with Tony George and he’s pretty well convinced that he’s going to get Houston back on the schedule for next year. I’m not so sure – there are a lot of events that need to be shoehorned into the 2009 sked and a Houston street race may not be in the cards. Remember Turks and Caicos? 🙂

    As for the Atlantics, the Atlantic car is not an oval-worthy car and couldn’t have been adapted without major redesign work. The IPS car, as ugly as it is, is better structured for multi-use racing; so basically had there been an “absorption” it would have been the other way around and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have liked it (I know I wouldn’t have).

    I’m simply happy Atlantics is still around. At some point I hope that the IRL will address extending the feeder affiliation to some series that will bridge the gap between Stars of Karting and IPS, and if so maybe Atlantics will be “back in the fold.” Then again, so long as Gerry Forsythe is involved maybe it won’t.

  2. Geez Meesh, you had to go and associate my employer with the bad news now, didn’t you. 😉

  3. LOL!! Sorry Roger! No word of a lie, the original combo was “Uggs and Keds” but there wasn’t enough yin/yang or male/female contrast, so I went with the iconic american male trainer insteaed.

    Ya, even a throwaway line like it was invoked that much thought. I really need a life…

  4. Yaumb: I’m pretty doubtful about Houston myself. (silly Caribbean fantasy race aside) I think he would be smarter to fight to get Cleveland back on the sked. (although he probably makes more money from Houston with ALMS piggy backing the event)

    Yes, I know the limitations of the car prevented a reverse absorption. But I also know that Atlantic’s will have to tweak their package to include a couple of ovals (maybe even join up with some IRL events) so that the kids coming up through that series stand a better chance of moving up with the necessary skills to make them attractive to the big league teams. (beside using a big cheque as bait) Otherwise they will find that the up and coming drivers with Indy in their sights as their ultimate destination will be choosing to run for an IPS team rather than an Atlantic team. (I already know of a few drivers who are rethinking their seats for this year)

  5. You’re right (as usual!), meesh m’dear. Problem is, is it within the Atlantics game plan to make those tweaks to their package? And realistically, how many Atlantics drivers actually have Indy in their sights instead of Monaco?

    Again, it comes down to Forsythe’s involvement – if he’s involved in funding or dictating policy for Atlantics in any way, there’s no way that the series will come within a mile of aligning with the IRL. And that means that nobody’s even going to think of modifying the Atlantic chassis to run ovals.

    RE: Cleveland, I think he’s fighting for both – the press releases from Houston and Cleveland are nearly word-for-word. I’d guess like you did that Cleveland has the better shot to get on the IRL calendar with its history and the awesome BLA layout, but who knows in this day and age of money and politics.

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