OCTOBER 18, 2004
What happens when the big teams have more cars
The idea that the Formula 1 teams will have to run three cars is not one which is greeted with any enthusiasm by those involved as, according to the Concorde Agreement, these cars cannot score World Championship points and have little value for the teams or for the drivers. The other problem is that when big teams run more cars the smaller teams suffer. As an example of this one can look at the Indy Racing League which is currently expanding fast following the success of the four-car Andretti Green Racing team his year. Having additional cars has a number of important advantages in IRL because there are sufficient restrictions that an extra car does not add enormously to the cost. Chassis development is so restricted and there are so few testing days available that the more cars a team has on those days, the most the team learns.
The signs are that IRL will boom next year as teams expand: Rahal Letterman Racing is already talking of running three cars in the championship and at least four at Indianapolis with Buddy Rice, Vitor Meira and Roger Yasukawa expected to be the regular drivers and perhaps places available for Kenny Brack and IRL newcomer Danica Patrick.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing is also looking at a three-car team with Scott Dixon and Darren Manning rumoured to be joined by Scott Sharp with his backing from Delphi, which wants better results than it has been getting from Kelley Racing. Adrian Fernandez is also said to be keen to expand his operations to three cars. Eddie Cheever too says he is looking at a bigger team for Red Bull Cheever Racing with the latest suggestion being that Champ Car star Patrick Carpentier will move in to join Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter.
And it doesn't end there. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is hoping to get together the money to run Infiniti Pro Series champion Thiago Medeiros alongside Felipe Giaffone, although Ireland's Michael Keohane is also hoping for a chance. Greg Ray's Access Motorsports is also in expansion mode.
The problem with this is that the teams at the back are struggling. Racing legend AJ Foyt is having trouble finding a replacement sponsor for Conseco, which has decided not to return to the team in 2005 and Tom Kelley says that he is planning to sell his team, one of the few remaining original IRL teams.
"I just can't keep up with what I call 'the super teams' anymore," Kelley said.
Kelley's team has been under pressure for several years and the team has made a loss every year since 1998. The team has won nine races and twice took third place in the points standings but since the well-established CART teams began to switch to IRL in 2001 Kelley was pushed backwards on the grid.
There are believed to be buyers waiting in the wings if Kelley does sell but they face an uphill struggle.
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