This could be it folks. CART teams have been told to stop working on their Panoz chassis and prepare for their new chassis, the Dallaras. Expect an official announcement of the marriage of CART and IRL soon.
Will this bring back open wheeled racing to what it was decades ago? Well, not really. It is still a spec series, not that being a spec series has hurt NASCAR, but it won’t be the same as it was when there was real creativity and technology change in open wheeled racing.
Is it too late? That is probably the most important question and only time will tell. This is a great start in any case. They don’t need to compete against each other. They have been losing drivers to NASCAR (like many other forms of racing, for that matter) and don’t generate the kind of excitement that this level of the sport requires.
It probably won’t make a lot of difference the first year, but if Tony George plays this right it could be another NASCAR only open wheeled.
This could certainly make this year’s Indianapolis 500 a lot more exciting. This is the kind of change that could attract and retain drivers. This is the kind of change that will mean that teams will be made up of the best personnel and other crew members will be scrambling for a new team to work for.
It will be key to watch how the tire companies and engine suppliers deal with this change. It would be nice if this change would create some brand name competition. With NASCAR they at least pretend to have different brand cars based on the engines, but CART and IRL have pretty much one engine, one chassis, and one tire. Ho hum.
It will be interesting to watch how the sponsors deal with all this. Unless this is organized into three tiers of competition the real estate available to showcase a product on a race car will shrink dramatically. Yes, time to look at the NASCAR formula of having different professional series.
This won’t fix things, but it certainly could be a good start.