JUNE 7, 1999
Peace coming in America
FORMULA 1's planned move into the American market may be rather more difficult than planned if talks currently taking place succeed in reuniting the two warring parties in American open-wheeler racing. The CART and IRL series have both been struggling since they began running in competition to one another at the start of 1996. While this civil war has been taking place the NASCAR stock car series has been going from strength to strength.
In recent weeks we have heard rumors of negotiations and it seems that a deal has now been struck which will result in IRL boss Tony George becoming an important shareholder in CART - around 19% of the CART shares were offered for sale recently by team owners. George's purchase of some of these shares would give him a voice in CART and we hear that the settlement will involve CART and IRL merging, to form a new series with around 25 events - centered on the IndianapolisÊ500. There will continue to be international oval events but the series will also include street and road tracks. Future international development on oval circuits - notably in Europe - is expected, probably in league with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA with the long-term aim of establishing an FIA World Oval Racing Championship.
We hear that the cars will be changed to be more like those used in IRL but that the engine rules will be rather different, and will allow for the existing CART engines to be used.