Monday, February 18, 2008

Running out of time

And the drama continues over the future state of Open Wheel racing and more specifically Champ Car, as the Wurld ‘O Chump Carzs Turns. Ever so slowly, as it seems to be like so many pebbles on a beach being washed away by the tide…

Apparently things have gotten even stranger at the listing ship SS Chump Carzs, as rumours suggested that there had been further divisions inside the organizations HQ in Indianapolis.

Apparently while the staff was told that Champ Car would not be filing for bankruptcy, it was just another crazy rumour that majority co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven’s office belongings were being packed and he no longer sees eye to eye with the other Moosketeers in charge of the floundering series; Gerry Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Dan Pettit. (Who are rumoured to have had a conference call on Friday to discuss CCWS’s future)

Further reports claim that long time participant Derrick Walker is now focusing upon switching allegiances to the Indy Racing League for 2008, having grown tired of the continuous mis-management of CCWS. Walker claims it would have cost him $150,000 to take part in the just concluded Sebring test session, which he decided to forgo, noting that he’s still owed money from team co-owner Craig Gore.

Taking a cursory look at the 2008 CCWS participants, shows that there’s currently only one team with a complete line-up; Newman Haas Lanigan, while the remaining entities are still attempting to finalize their team rosters. Thus, currently a total of seven drivers are confirmed for the upcoming season, although Alex Tagliani is expected to drive for PKV Racing, while Conquest, Dale Coyne, Forsythe Pettit and Pacific Coast all plan on having two car efforts.

If all nine of the current teams showed up with full squads, this would net a total of 17 cars, which seems to be the minimum CCWS can contractually get away with running, since I seem to recall that the original contracts called for 18 cars, which CCWS managed to get around last season.

Thus, if Kevin Kalkhoven was to take his two car team to the IRL along with Derrick Walker and possibly Newman Haas Lanigan, CCWS would be left with a pitiful car count of 11, which I can assure you, wouldn’t be pretty!

There have been further stories about the PI representatives taking equipment out of the CCWS HQ, which if true, makes me wonder if there’s something funny going on between Kalkhoven and Forsythe?

For humour, imagine if a rift between Kalkhoven and Forsythe really exists? Would Kalkhoven try issuing a restraining order against Champ Car from using the Cosworth engines that he’s half owner of. Or banning CCWS access to the PI electronics making the cars run? Yet, according to the Toronto Sun, Kalkhoven has scoffed at all of the above and still claims that the Champ Car circus will indeed perform in 2008.

It’s worth noting that Kalkhoven and Forsythe are co-promoters of Long Beach, Toronto and Portland, while Mike Lanigan; the “L” in Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, promotes Cleveland and Houston, with Forsythe running the Mexico City event.

Thus, it appears that Forsythe & Kalkhoven are most likely angling to get a deal for the Long Beach event which was supposedly the deal breaker towards the impending merger. And although Edmonton has been named as one of the three events to be added to the IRL’s schedule, rumours persist that it lost $7 million last year.

Next, if N/H/L was bold enough to move to the rival Indy car series, what would happen to the Houston and Cleveland events? But would this occur as reports claim that Haas is currently holding $2 million in Panoz parts. Ahem, Mr. Haas, perhaps you’ll wish to hold a “Going out of business” sale on these items? (As it seems only a matter of time before CCWS implodes) Note that Dan D. Jones & Associates, who repaired the faulty DP-01 fuel tanks last year has just filed court papers upon CCWS for failure to pay the $300,000 it owes.

And what do you do if you’re a current CCWS Team Owner, as such dedicated entrants as Paul Newman & Carl Haas, Eric Bachelart, Dale Coyne, Tom Figge and Derrick Walker have supposedly been kept out of Champ Car management’s information loop. This lack of communication led to Bachelart plunking down a million dollars on a new Panoz DP-01 in order to become a two car operation before hearing of the latest merger rumours from Robin Miller.

Yet, adding further insult to injury comes news that Ziggy Harcus, the former Director of Race Operations, speculated to be taking over Tony Cotman's duties as VP of Operations and potentially as Race Director, has also “Left the Building.” (Champ Car)

And I suppose CCws will host their upcoming Spring Training March 13-15 at Laguna Seca, yet I’d guess that PKV Racing and Team Australia will sit out the test as Champ Car works overtime to deny the inevitable. I mean if Graham Rahal can figure it out;

"I used to say specifically that I wanted Champ Car to live and I wanted the IRL to die off, but the truth is, the IRL isn't going to die off because they've got the Indy 500. Right now, the way I look at it we need to have one series, whatever way we can achieve that."

Then it don’t take NO Rocket Scientist to figure out its time for Champ Car to throw in the towel. Then again CCWS could always file for bankruptcy at any moment. Hmm? Does anybody know when Tony George gets back from Scott Dixon’s wedding?