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RM: Champ Car says NO, thank you to Honda?

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  • RM: Champ Car says NO, thank you to Honda?

    MILLER: Examining Honda’s IRL Commitment

    Written by: Robin Miller Indianapolis, IN – 10/20/2005
    http://www.speedtv.com/commentary/20296/

    The decision by Honda to stay with the Indy Racing League through 2009 was packaged as a vote of confidence for Tony George's series and the extension of a perfect partnership.

    But wasn't it really more like two people on a deserted island who were basically stuck with each other?

    Yes, Gilligan, that's what happened.

    After destroying the competition in 2004 and 2005, Honda has run off GM and Toyota is set to bail at the end of 2006. Even the IRL finally admitted there are no other engine manufacturers on the horizon.

    So for the IRL it was simple. Either cut its association with Honda following '06 and go back to its early mantra of independent engine builders (which probably keeps GM in play) or stick with Honda.

    And because Honda supports Andretti/Green, Rahal/Letterman, Fernandez and Dreyer & Reinbold with either money or engines or both, the decision didn't require a lot of math, or thought, on the IRL's part.

    It wasn't so easy for Honda.

    Sure, thrashing arch-rival Toyota the past two years has been rewarding but Robert Clarke and Honda Performance Development didn't like the way the future looked back in May. That's when Clarke was lobbying Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven and George to unite with at least a common chassis/engine formula for 2007.

    Clarke's efforts, along with those of Mario Andretti, were admirable but unsuccessful and by July he was admitting to some of us that Honda might have to service the entire IRL by 2007.

    That was a direct contradiction to what he'd said before about Honda never being the sole supplier like Cosworth in Champ Car. But Honda also swore it would never enter a low tech series like the IRL.

    This was a matter of business sense and survival. Honda has a new factory in southern California and 130 employees. In Clarke's words, a major investment that just can't be abandoned.

    And don't think for a minute that he didn't shop Honda to Champ Car.

    Although he claimed last weekend that the IRL was Honda's only choice, Clarke met with Champ Car's Tony Cotman and Kalkhoven last month in Las Vegas. They said Clarke wanted them to change to the normally-aspirated Cosworth for '07 so Honda could return to the series it dominated from 1996-2001.

    Kalkhoven doesn't pretend to know engines so he called for Cotman, who understands Honda's clout and way of doing business since he worked with them in the CART and the IRL before becoming vice president of competition. He knows how much money they spend and how tough they are to control.

    Cotman says he told Clarke that if Honda were to come back it would be under stricter terms (no team could directly be funded, Honda would have to furnish half the field but not get to pick and chose its teams and teams would only be allowed three years with Honda) but he and Kalkhoven really didn't want to upset their competitive balance.

    As crazy as it might sound, Champ Car couldn't afford to have Honda back because right now it's got the only major motorsports series that a new team can come in, buy the same equipment as the defending champs and instantly be competitive.

    And, even though Honda thrives on competition, it's only real option in open wheel was the IRL.

    It's been a crazy few years. Cosworth bailed out Champ Car and now it's one of the best bargains ($750,000 a year to lease an ultra-reliable engine) in racing

    Brian Barnhart, the IRL's chief operating officer, vowed that the IRL wouldn't make the same mistakes with Honda and Toyota that CART had. But, in retrospect, he made exactly the same mistakes and woke up one morning to find himself beholding to one engine manufacturer that's as powerful off the track as it is on it.

    Providing there's anyone around to lease it, the Toyota will go for $2 million next year. Ditto for Honda, which could face supplying as many as 12-14 cars in 2006.

    Tony George's recent trend has been to copy Champ Car. Get its old teams, manufacturers, tracks, go road racing and now turn to a spec engine. If Honda's current factory teams can make it without HPD's money, it could be good for the IRL

    It's certainly been a blessing for Champ Car.

  • #2
    Why does Robin's "take" on this not surprise me?

    He's down in Australia with Cotman and KK figuring out how they can make CC look better on engines than the IRL. So they come up with CC stiffly posturing to Honda.

    Does anyone honestly think that CC was going to bring Honda to its knees in the racing world?

    Does anyone honestly think that KK is going to allow Honda to compete against his own engine in CC without unification?

    Pretty pitiful spin effort.
    "The lunatic fringes on both sides need to be written off." -- stnky pete

    Comment


    • #3
      Another source-less, fact-less, story from this internet columnist.

      Kinda like "I have proof NASCAR is rigged", "They will never turn a wheel", there were 75K people at Michigan" and other classics.

      Comment


      • #4
        $2,000,000 vs $750,000

        Comment


        • #5
          ROBIN says, chic......
          "The lunatic fringes on both sides need to be written off." -- stnky pete

          Comment


          • #6
            Paid writer for Champ Car spins a story in favor of Champ Car. Wow, what a surprise.
            "I didn't hear a single comment about airboxes, "carbashians", or how terrible the car looked. I did see dozens and dozens of little kids in awe of the speed and how cool the cars looked. We should learn from our children."
            --Danny Noonan

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by chicanery
              $2,000,000 vs $750,000
              That's what I'm talkin' about.
              "George Bignotti's Sinmast Wildcat (Designed by Bob Riley); delicately built, carefully prepared and boldly driven by Gordon Johncock." -- Keith Jackson

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by indycool
                Why does Robin's "take" on this not surprise me?

                He's down in Australia with Cotman and KK figuring out how they can make CC look better on engines than the IRL. So they come up with CC stiffly posturing to Honda.

                Does anyone honestly think that CC was going to bring Honda to its knees in the racing world?

                Does anyone honestly think that KK is going to allow Honda to compete against his own engine in CC without unification?

                Pretty pitiful spin effort.
                The only one on their knees is Robin.
                ...Always follow the money

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CARacer
                  MILLER: Examining Honda’s IRL Commitment

                  Written by: Robin Miller Indianapolis, IN – 10/20/2005
                  http://www.speedtv.com/commentary/20296/
                  Brian Barnhart, the IRL's chief operating officer, vowed that the IRL wouldn't make the same mistakes with Honda and Toyota that CART had. But, in retrospect, he made exactly the same mistakes and woke up one morning to find himself beholding to one engine manufacturer that's as powerful off the track as it is on it.
                  Most accurate part of the article.

                  The rest of the article is mostlystuff any number of posters on here could have written.
                  "Don't believe the hype!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Honda and the IRL are one of the most curious mixes ever in racing. The IRL, a series founded on a lower tech, cost savings formula meets Honda, a company openly admitting they use OW racing in this country to showcase their technical abilities and will spend through the roof to win. Oil meet water. They just don't mix. One has to submit to the other and it's apparent the IRL has submitted to Honda.
                    Trump, he's one of the nicest, most decent human beings possibly ever to walk the planet..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The part that Robin glosses over is that the CC deal was an afterthought and that CC's refusal killed any chance for a common formula:

                      'Hey, we're signing on with the IRL for another 3 years. We'll run the very same engine in CC. This will allow you to get rid of your old dynosaurs and go to a new, modern spec. Your teams would have the same engines as the IRL so they could use them and the Indy 500 and other races if they chose and there is pretty good chance you could work out a deal with Panoz and run IRL cars. Heck, maybe you could get Tony to adopt a single chassis and then everybody is on even footing. Once the equipment is the same, then you two fellows can talk again and at least work out a schedule that could see some common events - Long Beach, Indy, Toronto, a couple more. What's wrong with this plan?'

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jim Wilke
                        'Hey, we're signing on with the IRL for another 3 years. We'll run the very same engine in CC. This will allow you to get rid of your old dynosaurs and go to a new, modern spec. Your teams would have the same engines as the IRL so they could use them and the Indy 500 and other races if they chose and there is pretty good chance you could work out a deal with Panoz and run IRL cars. Heck, maybe you could get Tony to adopt a single chassis and then everybody is on even footing. Once the equipment is the same, then you two fellows can talk again and at least work out a schedule that could see some common events - Long Beach, Indy, Toronto, a couple more. What's wrong with this plan?'
                        So we're just making up conversations now?

                        'Hey, jonovision_man, here's a few million I don't need!'

                        jono

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm just speculating as to what took place. In my opinion, CC turned Honda down because they cannot risk letting any more teams run IRL events.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by indycool
                            Why does Robin's "take" on this not surprise me?

                            He's down in Australia with Cotman and KK figuring out how they can make CC look better on engines than the IRL. So they come up with CC stiffly posturing to Honda.

                            Does anyone honestly think that CC was going to bring Honda to its knees in the racing world?

                            Does anyone honestly think that KK is going to allow Honda to compete against his own engine in CC without unification?

                            Pretty pitiful spin effort.
                            your series of choice just put out a PR that spun a .6 as a 293% increase....and your being critical of CC PR.....

                            Dear Mr. Pot, you clearly live along side Mr. Kettle in a glass house

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jim Wilke
                              I'm just speculating as to what took place. In my opinion, CC turned Honda down because they cannot risk letting any more teams run IRL events.
                              In my opinion, Robin's playing up the Honda conversation to be more than it was, and you're stretching it even further.

                              jono

                              Comment

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