JANUARY 31, 2005

Rumours from across the Pond

There is a long-standing rumour in the United States that there will soon be a joint announcement involving the International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR's sister organisation) and Tony George. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation (IMSC) and ISC are already partners in The Motorsports Alliance, which ensures that their activities in circuit ownership do not conflict with one another. NASCAR uses Indianapolis Motor Speedway for one of its biggest events of the year and the IMSC-owned Indy Racing League regularly race on ISC circuits across the United States. Thus is in the interest of the ISC that the IRL remains healthy.

The problem is that no-one is quite sure what is going to be announced although logically ISC must see open-wheeler racing as a good way to develop in the future now that NASCAR is reaching saturation point and international expansion is being considered. It may be that the parties consider that to be too big a step and want to increase their hold on the racing scene across the United States. ISC has already made a foray into sports car racing with the GrandAm championship, which it established in 1999 to bring stability to professional endurance road racing in America. This has been a big success and there has been speculation that ISC may now try to do the same thing with IRL, in league with George. It should be remembered that GrandAm was one of the companies that showed interest when CART's assets were up for sale at the start of 2004.

Whatever the case, something is brewing in the United States and that could have an effect on the popularity of open-wheeler racing in the United States - which would be a good thing for F1 which remains the exotic but respected cousin of Champ Car and IRL and the place where ambitious young drivers in both series want to end up.