The 1:45 Cleveland Grand Prix

The Cleveland Grand Prix became a timed event as Paul Tracy claimed career win number 30. The crowd looked to be very good including the 1000 Bridgestone employees that attended. Tracy becomes series point leader with today’s win leading second place Bourdais by 1 point 128 to 127. Allmendinger and Servia came in second and third.

WickerBill Sez;

It was nice to see the big, 90,000 for 3 days, crowd at Cleveland, this kind of a crowd will likely assure Cleveland a place on the Champ Car schedule for some time to come.

The fact that the race became a timed event isn’t what I would like to see although the 2.5 hour time TV time slot worked well again as it did in Portland, it would have been nice to have shortened the 30 min lead in to allow for more back end time. I would rather see the full race and have the program filled on the back end than to have the race shortened.

All in all it looked like a very good event, Champ Car gets a passing mark on this one.

Portland on the Bubble

I thought the Protland race was a reasonably good show. The race had some intrigue with Shorty winning on an alternate pit strategy. Of course he couldn't have done so without a good car which PKV provided. He was able to pull out a nice lead on his second stint which was important to the win.

TV coverage was good, at least we saw the complete race with some lead-in and post-race interviews. The 2.5 hour time slot worked well.

Now for the bad news; attendance reported by some at only 60,000 for the three days may not be sufficient to keep the race on the schedule dependng on CCWS plans. Assuming that head count is the total through the turnstiles, meaning that anyone with 3 day pass is counted 3 times, there was probably only 35,000 maybe 40,000 on race day. A decent number if CCWS's plan is to grow the event going forward but if they needed the event to be successful this year the end could be near.

Will DanIRLca or CCWS Prevail

WickerBill sez;

Much has been written about the Power of Danica. I don’t know how to predict the full effect of Danica on the longevity of the IRL but it is painfully obvious to me that the IRL is living on Danica mania and will continue to do so for some time. Will it be enough to finally bury Champ Car? Nobody knows for sure. There are some signs that might be pointing to that.

As for Danica’s staying power only time will tell, I think she has to win and win consistently much like Shirley Muldowney did in Drag Racing to have a lasting effect. But even if she only wins once or twice the effects could be devastating. Both series are extremely fragile and it wouldn’t take much to end either one. I’ve watched her race and in my opinion she is a very opportunistic driver. She is very smooth and doesn’t tear up equipment. She is usually around at the end and this means that one day she will come in first, not because she won but because the others lost. If this is indeed the way her career unfolds then the impact in the IRL will be short lived.

Pen$ke’s purchase of Ilmor shows that he believes in the future of the IRL and plans to become an engine supplier. Pen$ke’s ahead of the curve actions could never have been more obvious. Although it’s less obvious how the Porsche deal will play into the grand scheme I wouldn’t be surprised to see the effects show up at the IRL somehow.

With the latest news of lagging ticket sales at San Jose and Portland the health of CCWS is uncertain. We can’t know for sure if the problem is getting better or getting worse, only time will tell. If the globalization of CCWS doesn’t pay the expected dividends will there be enough time to come home and rebuild. CCWS is putting it’s eggs in the street racing basket and if that doesn’t pay off then the end could be at hand.

As I have said many times one of these businesses will outlast the other and right now the IRL may have the upper hand.

Mario Says Two Sides Still Talking

Mario claims that the two sides are still talking about engine and chassis specs and that there is real progress being made.

WickerBill sez;

Ok so they are talking about engines and chassis and if they come to some agreement maybe they run a common race such as Indy but the unification of OWR won't happen unless Tony gives up his demand for control. And that ain't happenin'.

"It's Never Going to Happen" Carl Hass

"For a while there I thought it was going to happen," Haas remarked. "I think for a little while we all thought it could happen. But of course it's come apart again, just like always. And now, I agree with you, it's never going to happen. It's gotta be all on Tony's terms. That's the only way he wants it. That's the way it's always been."

Hass as quoted by Gordon Kirby in his latest article on the CCWS web site.

WickerBill sez;

This cannot be a surprise to anyone. Now can we please get on with racing?

Unified Series With Four Owners

Auto Racing One, a pay for information site which I don't read for obvious reasons, is putting forth a rumor which has Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Penske and George as equal partners in a unified series.

WickerBill sez;

Didn't work before won't work now!
Too many cooks in the kitchen!
Been there done that didn't work!
Show me I used to be from Missouri!

Long Beach Grand Prix Only $12.5 Million

According to the 8K filed by Dover Motorsports May 26, 2005 the AAM only paid $12.5 million for the Assests and Agreements of the Long Beach Grand Prix. The other $2.5 million was for Dover Real estate.

12.5 million is a rather low figure for this business which likely had $9 million in receipts this year. This indicates that Dover's expenses had indeed increased and the possibility of them taking a loss on this event is very real.

I can't imagine why there should be any loss when weighed against the attendance. One possible explanation is that they gave away the tickets!

WickerBill sez;

I hope the management has the sense to clean up this act including purging the dead wood!

Milwaukee is Dead

Well as suspected the crowd was very light my guess around 15 thousand. The race was OK except for RHR's crash as once again the concrete conspired to take out a driver. As for next year I doubt that CCWS will race at Milwaukee. It's a shame that such a legacy has to come to an end. With Road America gone and probably Milwaukee there's almost no midwestern Champ Car Racing left.

I feel the pain of what few fans there are there, however without fan support these venues are dead. Unfortunately the fans cannot do much about turning around the misfortunes of the sport.

Perhaps someday the sport will regain enough stature to interst more than 15 thousand die hard fans!

Indy, The End

I must admit after over 55 years of following the Indy 500 my enthusiasm for the race has all but disappeared and I can’t really say why. I know that part of the reason must be the split in OWR that occurred in 1996. But there is more to it than that. The idea of going 220 plus MPH around a track with concrete walls and safer barriers has not been proven to be the safest form of racing. Over the years I have had the misfortune of being present for the death of more than one driver. One of the accidents was right in front of me in the north shoot and I can say it pretty much ruined the rest of the day for me. I know there is a huge risk taken by the drivers when they decide to participate in racing but even knowing that doesn’t change the feeling one gets when you see a driver pay the ultimate price. Yes racing much safer now than in years past but oval racing seems to take too big of a toll.

I’m one of thousands that have lost interest in the Spectacle. Judging from what I could see on TV the stands were not packed as they used to be. Checking on the Indy web sight I found many tickets available right up to Race Day. Fortunately for Indy, this year’s event featured a young female rookie that happened to be very fast and with a team that knows how to go fast. This helped to put some excitement back into the race. I know I watched with great anticipation that a lady could finally win the race. But at the end I still had this feeling of – gee this really doesn’t do it for me anymore.

I wonder how many others have a similar feeling and if it will finally spell the end of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I wouldn’t be surprised.

Blog Archive