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MILLER: Champ Car, Two Years In

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  • MILLER: Champ Car, Two Years In

    MILLER: Champ Car, Two Years In

    Written by: Robin Miller Mexico City, Mexico – 11/8/2005
    http://www.speedtv.com/commentary/20641/

    When a venture capitalist from Australia and a Chicago business maven out-bid Tony George for the assets to CART in January of 2004, three questions were immediately recycled throughout the racing fraternity.

    1) Why didn't Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe simply let George have it so open wheel racing could be back under one roof?
    2) Why would two very successful multi-millionaires buy a decomposing corpse?
    3) Would this folly last one or two years before last rites were administered?

    Well, Sunday afternoon the checkered flag fell on Champ Car's second season and now we pretty much know the answers to all three of those questions.

    Sure, Champ Car is nowhere close to its heydays of the '90s but it's a damn sight healthier than anyone could have imagined two years ago.

    Kalkhoven and Forsythe have not only kept the pilot light burning, they've stoked the series with new venues, invested in some traditional tracks, resuscitated Formula Atlantics and laid out a sensible economic plan for the future.

    In the past 12 months:
    a) They staged new races at San Jose and Edmonton, added Houston for 2006 and are working on Philadelphia.
    b) Purchased the Long Beach Grand Prix and Molson at Toronto.
    c) Rebooted the Atlantics with a much cheaper chassis/engine ($175,000), added more horsepower and $2 million to the '06 titlist towards a Champ Car ride in '07.
    d) Reduced the car costs 35 percent for the new '07 Panoz car ($205,000 less electronics and $300,000 for a roller).
    e) Left little doubt they're better equipped to deal with the real world than George.

    "If you'd have told me we'd have all this two years ago, I would have looked to the heavens and said: "Please God, make this dream come true,'" said Kalkhoven, who started out as a car owner in 2003 before jumping into the deep end. "I think we're a year ahead of where Gerry and I expected to be last January.

    "But I think the key is that our owners have bonded together very well."

    As mentioned, the car count needs to be increased by at least four, the television ratings still suck, there's no money flowing directly to the teams, American attendance is far from healthy across the board, a title sponsor is desperately needed and so are young American drivers.

    "I don't think we'll have any new teams next year because there are so few Lolas around but I think 2007 will be a different story," continued Kalkhoven. "We will have new teams in 2007, I'm sure of it.

    "We'll have more national TV races next year and do some special shows to promote our drivers. Our Atlantic package should help our American driver situation and we've had people working diligently on a title sponsor for the past six months.

    "Are we satisfied with everything? Of course not. But we've got a plan and its working."

    Despite the highly successful and competitive debut at Edmonton, Champ Car's real coup in '05 was keeping Long Beach, Toronto and Montreal on its schedule and off the Indy Racing League's. Kalkhoven claims he doesn't pay any attention to the rival circuit but he and his partner have been forced to defend their castle at least three or four times.

    Even though the IRL/IMS spin doctors deny any attempts at making a pitch for Long Beach, Toronto and Montreal, George told potential and current sponsors that the IRL would be at Long Beach in 2006. Michael Andretti guaranteed his new favorite series would be running Toronto in '06 and the IRL that it was going to slide into Montreal next year.

    And Kalkhoven and Forsythe can say Long Beach and Toronto were good investments, but they were also must-saves.

    "Some are good business decisions and some are strategic business decisions," said Kalkhoven, who sounds like he's still contemplating litigation against the Montreal promoter and possibly the IRL for tortious interference with a contract.

    "Yes, we definitely needed to keep Long Beach and Toronto and having the ability to control our assets is part of our strategy."

    Keeping ovals (Milwaukee and Las Vegas) sounds more like a habit than a need.

    "We'll evaluate them after next year but we're not going to do them if they're not successful," said Kalkhoven. "But why bother racing in front of 10 people? There's already a series that does that."

    With no chance of unification, it appears that Champ Car and IRL will continue fighting each other for American and international recognition, as well as survival. Two years ago, the IRL had most of CART's big teams, both of its Japanese engine manufacturers and that big hammer Tony George says he brings to work every day.

    But today the landscape has changed dramatically. Champ Car has the affordable series, the better American venues (except Indianapolis), a pretty slick business plan for the future and two guys who ain't broke or afraid.

    "When Gerry and I took over we wanted to eliminate this concept that open wheel racing is over or dead, because it's not. Our strategy of a three-day festival is working and we've got some exciting things in the pipeline. Gerry and I also plan to be around for quite a while."

    Then Kalkhoven grinned and said: "I've got a hammer too."

  • #2
    I see Kalkoven's mercenaries are still writing garbage. Typical Miller slant. When was the last Champcar/CART article Miller wrote that did not in any way mention Tony George or the IRL? Was it as far back as 1994? Miller thinks things are perfectly rosey in Champcars and desperate in the IRL. Fine. I do not agree but lets just wait for the IRL or Champcars to implode. Until that happens there is racing to watch come spring.
    For the record, I never had a problem with CART in 1995. Its when they turned beligerant twards IMS and their fans for supporting the IRL that turned me off them.

    Comment


    • #3
      HA! This guy can't get through the first paragraph without lying...... TG was in no way outbid.

      The other glaring thing about this little propaganda piece is that there is no mention of paulyg, as an owner of the club.. Is "the 3" now, officially, "the 2"??
      .

      http://indyroadsters.webs.com/
      http://macmillersgarage.webs.com/
      http://www.youtube.com/user/macmiller46241


      I love any race car whose last name is "Special"

      .

      Comment


      • #4
        [QUOTE=mac miller The other glaring thing about this little propaganda piece is that there is no mention of paulyg, as an owner of the club.. Is "the 3" now, officially, "the 2"??[/QUOTE]

        I've been calling them the Dynamic Duo for about a year now. Three Amigos is an overstatement.
        It's a Hoosier thing, you wouldn't understand...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mac miller
          HA! This guy can't get through the first paragraph without lying...... TG was in no way outbid.
          Sure he was, his proposal wasn't deemed as good for creditors.

          jono

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Robin
            1) Why didn't Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe simply let George have it so open wheel racing could be back under one roof?

            ...

            Sure, Champ Car is nowhere close to its heydays of the '90s but it's a damn sight healthier than anyone could have imagined two years ago.
            That's my beef. The IRL could have been close to CC's heydays if they'd not saved it. The best races would have made the cut, the best teams would have made the switch, and we'd have one series.

            It's becoming abundently clear that TG is willing to race street & road races at the expense of ovals, something that wasn't so clear at the time when they saved CC.

            jono

            Comment


            • #7
              As mentioned, the car count needs to be increased by at least four, the television ratings still suck, there's no money flowing directly to the teams, American attendance is far from healthy across the board, a title sponsor is desperately needed and so are young American drivers.
              "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?"

              Comment


              • #8
                Certainly, comparing the 2, KK not only has a better busines plan but is also acting on it to make it work meanwhile, the IRL drifts aimlessly.

                While it certainly looks like the CCWS of the future will not even resemble the Cart of old, it'll probably wind up strong enough to sustain itself in the long run with a primarily street event schedule. That won't really be my cup of tea though.
                Trump, he's one of the nicest, most decent human beings possibly ever to walk the planet..

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Wilke
                  "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?"
                  The IRL set a direction in 1996, has followed its plan, and has not deviated from it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Indyknut
                    Certainly, comparing the 2, KK not only has a better busines plan but is also acting on it to make it work meanwhile, the IRL drifts aimlessly.

                    While it certainly looks like the CCWS of the future will not even resemble the Cart of old, it'll probably wind up strong enough to sustain itself in the long run with a primarily street event schedule. That won't really be my cup of tea though.
                    The IRL isn't drifting aimlessly, TG has a clear goal - more street and road races, less ovals.

                    jono

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Indyknut
                      Certainly, comparing the 2, KK not only has a better busines plan but is also acting on it to make it work meanwhile, the IRL drifts aimlessly.

                      While it certainly looks like the CCWS of the future will not even resemble the Cart of old, it'll probably wind up strong enough to sustain itself in the long run with a primarily street event schedule. That won't really be my cup of tea though.
                      Me neither.

                      I don't care if it was a good business plan (which I don't think has been demonstrated yet, either), it isn't a plan that delivers what I am looking for, either as a former CART fan, a fan of U.S.-based open wheel racing, a fan of the Indianapolis 500, or a fan of both the IndyCar and Formula One.

                      The primary root cause of disappointment and concern in IndyCar is the low level of popularity. Media attention and fan buzz at the events has been steadily improving the last few years, and has resulted in measurable increases in ratings and attendance. The format is exciting, and it has the Indianapolis 500 as a great base to build upon.

                      That sounds like a pretty good business plan to me, and it has the promise to deliver what I am looking for.
                      "Each day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this one day for it, and it alone, is life"
                      ~ Sanskrit poem attributed to Kalidasa, "Salutation to the Dawn"


                      Brian's Wish

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This is an appropriate thread for a "Robin says."
                        "The lunatic fringes on both sides need to be written off." -- stnky pete

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Why does any one give a **** about what Robin Miller says?
                          "Moralism is often the first strength of a weak mind"
                          -Norman Mailer-

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sweaty
                            Why does any one give a **** about what Robin Miller says?
                            Ask the posters who've made the Robin threads so popular.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              [b]

                              .... and laid out a sensible economic plan for the future...........
                              ? what did i miss, what is this sensible economic plan? All i see is going to expensive streetcourses, dropping ovals and traditional circuits which did not work for cart.

                              "If you'd have told me we'd have all this two years ago, I would have looked to the heavens and said: "Please God, make this dream come true,'" said Kalkhoven, who started out as a car owner in 2003 before jumping into the deep end. "I think we're a year ahead of where Gerry and I expected to be last January.
                              Didn't they expect to make money in 2006?


                              Kalkhoven claims he doesn't pay any attention to the rival circuit ...............
                              .... said Kalkhoven. "But why bother racing in front of 10 people? There's already a series that does that."
                              No, we don't pay attention to the rival series, but we can make stupid remarks about them.

                              Comment

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