IRL founder Tony George showed that he was not merely stirring the pot by submitting a $3.3million bid for the CART assets under the hammer in Indianapolis - and insists that he will do whatever it takes to see off the challenge of Open Wheel Racing Series by pledging more money to the cause of necessary.

In his first interview since deciding to bid for selected assets, George told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that he was willing to do - and spend - whatever was required to outbid OWRS and ensure that the IRL would spearhead a unified open-wheel scene in the US.

"None of these guys [OWRS partners Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi and Gerry Forsythe] has as much appreciation for open-wheel racing as I have," George said, "Their collective appreciation does not equal mine.

"I committed to the Indy Racing League ten years ago, not ten months ago. I am very committed to making sure open-wheel racing succeeds, and the IRL is on a very firm foundation going forward. We've got the right path to be successful, and we will be.

"We're not going to convince everybody that we have the best intentions for open-wheel racing at heart, as there will always be those who won't be dragged along without kicking and screaming. But our actions will speak for themselves and, in two or three years, that will be obvious to any reasonable person.

"If we are successful with our bid, our intention is to work quickly and effectively to create a unified, market-driven North American open-wheel series. We believe there is a window of opportunity right now to accomplish this."

Gentilozzi admitted that Wednesday's hearing will now become a battle of wills and wallets, although neither side is guaranteed success as US bankruptcy court judge Frank Otte will have the final say in the matter after weighing up the broader impact of his decision. The OWRS opened the bidding at $1.6million after taking CART in the courts when agreements pertaining to the purchase of shares could not be met.

Like George, Gentilozzi also admits that he may have to raise the stakes if OWRS is to win the battle, and told the Star that the price could rise dramatically.

"It's an auction and you better be there to bid," he said, "The judge's job is to get the most money for the creditors.

"It's clear what the IRL's intentions are when you look at which assets they want to purchase. They just want to kill the series by taking the engines and cherry-picking Long Beach. If you can do that and take away your competition, I guess you try to do that. But it won't work."

The IRL was the only other party to offer a rival bid to OWRS, despite reports that the Grand-Am operation may also be preparing to enter the fray. George is understood to have targeted his bid on selected race contracts - most notably that of the Long Beach Grand Prix - and other equipment that is included in the sale. Among the latter is the engine supply deal with Cosworth, without which it is unlikely that OWRS would be able to run its series.

"The hard items we bid on were the same [as OWRS] to make it easier for the judge to compare apples and apples," IRL spokesman Fred Nation revealed.

Both the IRL and OWRS will have the opportunity to revise their bids before Wednesday's hearing.

 

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