Homestead-Miami Speedway was the setting for the official announcement of unification of domestic open-wheel racing Wednesday after 12 years of "The Split."
Tony George, founder of the Indy Racing League, and Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, shared the dais and each spoke longingly of "looking forward."
"I felt like this was perhaps going to be the best year of my 48 to have a chance to do something that's very important to me and very close to me," George said, "and that is to help bring about the unification of open-wheel racing."
Kalkhoven, who said he and George actually began informal talks four years ago, added, "I think that the winners today are the fans, the teams, the drivers, and indeed the potential that we have to be able to grow the sport over the next few years. Unification isn't some sort of magic bullet to be abe to get us forward. It's going to take an awful lot of hard work."
Here are the key elements: Champ Car teams committing to the IndyCar Series and demonstrating the ability to fund operating budgets will be provided (1) a one-year Honda basic engine lease (2) two Dallara chassis from a pool of new and used cars to the extent of the pool available for up to two seasons and (3) $1.2 million per car from the new IndyCar TEAM program.
In addition, at least two venues from the Champ Car schedule will be added to the IndyCar lineup this season, with the events in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Surfers Paradise in Australia the leading candidates. Meanwhile, Champ Car's crown jewel _ the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach street race _ will join the 2009 schedule. This year's LBGP will be run in mid-April as the "Finale" of the Champ Car World Series.
Nine Champ Car teams are ready to make the jump. We'll see how many make it through the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway en route to Texas Motor Speedway for the Bombardier Learjet 550 night race in early June.
-- John Sturbin