LONG BEACH RACE WILL BE LAST RUN.
The president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach has been promised a full Champ Car World Series field for his race April 20, but what defines a full field is up for debate.
Details of the merger unifying the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League that was announced Friday have not been released, but the Long Beach Grand Prix is believed to be one of a handful of Champ Car races that will be added to the IRL schedule. However, it is probably too late to include the Long Beach Grand Prix in the 2008 IRL schedule.
As part of the unification agreement, the IRL reportedly has made an offer to Champ Car teams to entice them to race in the Long Beach Grand Prix, even though it might not be part of this year's revised IRL schedule.
"It is my understanding that it will be the one and only and last Champ Car race," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "We have been promised we will have a full field of cars. We will put on a race to the best of our ability."
Michaelian said he does not know what a full field of cars will exactly entail, estimating it could be anywhere from 16 to 18 cars.
That might be a little optimistic, as two Champ Car teams, Oxnard-based Pacific Coast Motorsports and Walker Racing, announced they will go to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the IRL season opener March 29.
It has been reported that as many as six Champ Car teams and 10 drivers will enter IRL competition.
Only 14 cars and drivers were at the most recent Champ Car test at Sebring International Raceway in Florida in January.
"We are thrilled to have a unified series, without a doubt this provides the strongest platform for our partners going forward," said Tyler Tadevic, team director for Pacific Coast Motorsports.
"It is our intention for Pacific Coast Motorsports to continue its open-wheel endeavors. Our goal is to be on the IRL grid at the Gainsco Grand Prix in Miami with two IndyCars."
The IRL has offered any team, Champ Car or otherwise, that commits to its full season a package that includes Honda engines, chassis and $1.2 million.
Tadevic said that offer has been adjusted for existing Champ Car teams that enter the Long Beach Grand Prix, which is the same weekend as the IRL race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. According to Tadevic, Champ Car teams have been offered two IRL cars for every one it enters in the Long Beach Grand Prix.
He called it a gracious offer from the IRL, but "it's kind of a rough deal."
"It is what it is," Tadevic said. "I'm not very OK with any of it."
The fate of the Atlantic Series, which was part of the Champ Car developmental system, is in question.
"We are working diligently on this program and welcome all opportunities," Tadevic said. "In addition, it is our intention to continue our Atlantic program with our young American stars Frankie Muniz and Carl Skerlong. (Atlantic president) Vicki O'Connor has a long, successful history leading the Atlantic series and we are confident she will find the series a good home."
The Long Beach Grand Prix was supposed to be the season-opener for the Champ Car World Series on April 20. But the merger of the two series would dissolve the Champ Car series.
It has been reported by wire services and other newspapers that the IRL would absorb three Champ Car races: the Long Beach Grand Prix, the race at Surfers Paradise in Australia and the race in Edmonton, Alberta.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 24, 2008|
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