Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Penske might try to reunify open-wheel circuit

June 27, 2004

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— Roger Penske would prefer one American open-wheel racing circuit and might try to broker a deal between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League.

Penske met this week with the principal owners of Champ Car, and IRL officials expect him to talk to IRL president Tony George.

No formal meeting about a reunification has been scheduled.

The IRL and Champ Car's predecessor, CART, split in 1996.

Penske moved his open-wheel operation from CART to the IRL in 2002.

"I don't think there's any magic deadline," IRL spokesman Fred Nation said. "We have a very open mind, and we always have, to parties with reasonable suggestions."

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said Friday that Penske met this week with Champ Car principals Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven.

Eidswick was not at the discussion and would not discuss details.

But if two rival series are to reunite, it probably won't happen soon. Both are midway through their 2004 schedules, and Eidswick said he hopes to announce Champ Car's 2005 schedule next month.

The IRL has struggled to sell out many of its races since the split and has struggled with TV ratings.

Champ Car has struggled for its financial life. CART lost nearly $78 million in the first nine months of 2003 and declared bankruptcy in December 2003.

Forsythe, Gentilozzi and Kalkhoven spent $3.2 million to fend off George's attempt to buy CART's assets at bankruptcy auction.

Eidswick said Friday the series could continue losing money for up to three years.

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