The cart apologist of the month who can’t let 1995 stay in the previous century is Bob Keisser, a cutesy writer for whatever the newspaper is in Long Beach. He actually was on track to write a pretty good piece about the Long Beach street event with its 35 years of pretty nice history, but got sidetracked in a re-hash of a ‘split’ long since dead. It remains a shame the oft misinterpreted cart boycott still gets a grandiose revisionist history treatment by out of touch sycophants. I get the whole local writer thing of being a ‘homer’ for a local race, but the days of shilling for cart ended a long time ago.
“The task for the Grand Prix in Year 35 is enduring the aftermath of the open-wheel war that oddly doesn’t look as much like a new chapter as the tattering of an old one.” Facts: cart and champcar both killed themselves after unsuccessfully trying to overthrow Indy Car racing. It blew up in their faces. The defunct cart series owned a chapter of history. The lineage for all of it resides in Indy Car.
“There are fans of open-wheel racing who have so much disdain for the IRL and Tony George, the heir of Indy 500 owner Tony Hulman and the man who launched the war with CART, that they would sooner attend the Soapbox Derby than an IRL event.” Those people do not deserve to be considered racing fans and I do not want them anywhere near my favorite sport, at least until they grow up. Tony George did not ‘launch’ a war, he set a trap then watched arrogant people with foolish pride step into it. These people were smart enough to squish Tony George like a bug but their egos got the better of them and they killed themselves instead.
“It was George who sparked the war, who created the IRL and who helped diminish open-wheel racing at the same time that NASCAR was emerging as the exhaust of choice in America. As villains go, George is a neat fit.” Only to imbeciles, Bob. Tony George is a convenient blame target for people unable to deal with or take responsibility for their own failures.
“The IRL cars are considered inferior to those used in the heyday of CART and even the standardized cars that Champ Car used the last few seasons. But the concept of technical competition has slowly eroded over the years because of costs and manufacturer defections, so at day’s end this issue is less important than it might have been five years ago.” Let’s see a DP-01 provide side-by-side racing at 200+. Let’s see how it does in a crash at Indy.
“The harsh truth is that open-wheel racing today doesn’t look much different than it did in 1996 when the sport splintered, even though George insisted he was building something better, something more economical and something true to the traditions of American racing. Not even close.” To what? cart? Indy Car has been around almost as long as cart was and does not show any sign of killing itself. Bob, how old were you in 1996? I am guessing quite possibly a teenager.
“If you want to get technical, the war goes all the way back to 1956, when Hulman and USAC took over control of racing. By the late ’70 s, after Hulman passed away in 1977, teams and drivers were complaining that USAC didn’t know how to promote, wasn’t providing enough resources for the teams and drivers, and was too Indy 500-centric. Dan Gurney, Roger Penske and Pat Patrick created CART in 1979 and didn’t need much arm-twisting to get all of the top names to back his effort.” In other words, screw Indy Car racing and Indianapolis…we want the control and the money and we want to engage in a soccer-like effort that has never succeeded long term in America. It backfired.
“This was open-wheel racing’s heyday.” Bob, are you that out of touch? That wasn’t THE heyday by a long shot. It can be successfully argued that the period between 1961 and 1974 or so was, and there are some really old people who think in terms of decades before that. Granted, cart was a nice phase of evolution, but that is all it was. An evolutionary phase.
“But with success came confrontation.” And with greed came self immolation.
“Race operators, led by George and Indy, felt the teams had too much control of decisions and money and were taking the sport in the wrong direction. In 1992, for example, 10 of the 16 CART races were on street or road courses. In 1993, 13 of 16 races were won by foreign-born drivers. Thus, George launched his automotive jihad in 1996.” Again, FACTUALLY incorrect. George launched a completely separate series designed to complement, not compete with, cart. He invited them to participate. The knee jerk boycotters took offense, and thus began their embarrassing slide into nonexistence. 25/8 lasted one year, and despite that being used as a really weak excuse for cart failure they STILL could have eliminated the IRL with even minimal use of their brains.
“His IRL in 1996 was contested entirely on ovals in the U.S. and featured American drivers working for teams operating under a spending cap. He further thumbed his nose at CART when he decreed that 25 of 33 spots in the 1996 Indy 500 would go to IRL drivers.” How was that ‘thumbing his nose?” Again, had cart used equipment they already had and just a small amount of logic, they could have killed off the IRL in three months. But they were too stupid to even do that. cart DESERVED to die.
“The IRL didn’t win the ensuing war as much as outlast CART, which made huge financial blunders as sponsorship was waning. By 2004, it became obvious that only one open-wheel racing unit could survive.” The IRL survived because it made its centerpiece the Indianapolis 500. Period.
“So what do we have to show for this? The war sent several prestigious, iconic race teams to the grave. Gone are Walker Racing, Rahal/Letterman, and Forsythe.” The war didn’t do that. Walker Racing died because his welfare checks got cut off. Rahal/Letterman died after their poached sponsor had financial difficulties, and they don’t seem to have what it takes in the sponsorship garnering department. Forsythe cut off his nose to spite his face. From all outward appearances he appears to be insane, or at the very least one of the most petulant poor sports in racing history.
“Up-and-coming teams like Pacific Coast Motorsports have had to take a step back.” From what? Corporate welfare?
“Just like in 1996, a handful of teams dominate the sport – Andretti Green, Team Penske, Target Ganassi and Newman/Haas/Lanigan. The first three teams have won 56 of the last 57 IRL races, and Newman/Haas/Lanigan is the only former Champ Car team thriving.” When will the notion of ‘former cart teams’ die like the series did? Call them what they are. Indy Car teams. AGR, Penske and Ganassi for MANY years now.
“Vision Racing, which is owned and operated by George, has zero wins in 98 starts. Pause for effect. Things are dysfunctional enough that Coyne Racing, once considered the pauper of CART and Champ Car, actually may be a force in 2009.” I appreciate a more level playing field…Dale Coyne is a really nice guy and Vision darned near won the first of the year.
“From Long Beach’s perspective, George needs to step up and say that “Long Beach is our premiere street course” and start treating it as such.” Bob, I believe he has done that on several occasions.
“This year’s race will not be on an over-the-air network but on hard-to-find cable network Versus, which is on some pay tiers.” Which, judging by their outstanding debut in St. Pete and after more than a decade of outright neglect by ESPN, is outstanding. So is the fact that Versus is adding thousands of new households every month. They want to give ESPN a run for their money.
“At day’s end, it’s hard to predict how successful the IRL will be.” More successful than cart or champcar, which are both DEAD and BURIED.
“It’s not hard to predict that the Grand Prix will manage to rise above it.” Above what? The death of former tenants? It will.
Bob, seriously…how about joining the rest of us in 2009 of the 21st century? This tired old cart lament nonsense makes those who spout it look really stupid.