by Brad Allen

The gavel has fallen and the OWRS, having won a significant court battle to acquire the assets of the defunct CART operation, and IRL can get down to their respective businesses of running a North America-based open-wheel championship.

Not much has changed really. One will be on ovals and one will have a mixture of courses. Fans can go back to their side of the fence and throw barbs in the other side's direction again. There is new ownership on the one side, but the same difference in philosophy that separated the pair in the past remains for the foreseeable future.

Many people have their opinions on the outcome.

"I realise there's a difference between $13.5million and $3.2million," presiding judge Frank Otte said as he passed judgement on the bidding war, "but this bid must account for the assumption of [the] contracts [included in the assets]. We know for certain that there would be litigation, and there would be damages. There are no guarantees, but I know there is such a thing as a second chance. I hope the new spark of life from the new group will enable them [OWRS] to be successful."

Champ Car veteran Patrick Carpentier was very emotional when asked for his response.

"I was almost crying when I heard the news," the Canadian said, "It was like I just won a race."

The new owners of Champ Car racing had their say on the matter, all vowing to restore the series to its former glory.

"We will make the most of this opportunity and will ensure Champ Car teams, drivers, partners and fans are never again subjected to a situation like this," Paul Gentilozzi said, "It was a tough deal. We knew all along what we believed. It keeps this alive, and it shows the series has significant value."

"We are all acutely aware of the responsibility we now bear for the Champ Car community and we, along with everyone else in the series, will strive to exceed our expectations every day," OWRS partner Kevin Kalkhoven added, "I'm thrilled for the fans, the drivers, the teams and everyone who had their jobs saved [yesterday], and all I want to do is to get out of the courtroom, get the cars on the track and go racing."

''I'm just glad this is all over and we can get back to the business of what we do best, and that's giving our many fans the kind of racing they've come to expect from the Champ Car World Series,'' echoed Gerald Forsythe.

Tony George, the IRL founder and, to many, enemy number one in the battle to preserve Champ Cars, tried to be gracious - but his words seemed a bit contradictory.

"I wish them well," George said. "They're going to have a big job. It wasn't our day. Today, it was their day. We knew it was going to take money. We brought our chequebook and determination but, in the end, we didn't have the right currency. We would have been willing to offer more, but at that point it was clear we couldn't offer enough given the parameters that made sense. We weren't going to drive our bus off that cliff. I don't see that they have much of a chance of being successful in the environment we're all working in right now."

The Champ Car World Series has a lot of work ahead if it is to survive and thrive, but the feeling is positive in that camp.

"In my 25 years in racing, nobody ever believes there is going to be a car on the track until they see it on the grid. Nobody believes there's going to be a race until they see the green flag," said CART CFO David Clare. "So why would this time be any different?"

"There would have been a line at the unemployment office as long as your arm, and that would have been bad for the city of Indianapolis," said team boss Derrick Walker.

Several race promoters shared their outlook on the decision.

"The IRL bid had no racing in Canada in 2004 and a guarantee of one race in 2005 with potentially more, but, obviously, this is the decision that we preferred," Molson Indy promoter Bob Singleton said, "It's business as usual. We're just dealing with new owners today."

"This is great news for the Gold Coast and great news for Queensland," Australian deputy premier Terry Mackenroth said, "The owners of OWRS have declared the Gold Coast Indy the 'jewel in the crown' of the series and are strongly committed to the future of this successful event."

"We will immediately ask the city and county of Denver to approve OWRS as our new sanctioning body and to approve our new race date [13-15 August]," Grand Prix of Denver general manager John Frew said, "Once done, we will initiate ticket sales and get on with the business of staging a great race weekend."

Of course, from the IRL side, there was a very different perspective.

"I can't speak for all of us, [but] we all want to go to road courses," said IRL driver Tony Kanaan, "It's obvious for everybody that [both series] are hurting. So, what's more sensible to do? Everybody is hurting. Motor racing is hurting because of it. I think, [if] we can all go back and start being one thing, then it will grow. [And] I think the IRL has a lot more potential right now than any other open-wheel racing series."

"There are too many egos there to lose," AJ Foyt said, "When CART started, it was a fantastic organisation. But too many car owners put their two cents' worth in, and they ruined it - just like today."

''Well, the way I look at it, everybody loses,'' agreed Tim Cindric, president of the IRL's Marlboro Team Penske, "For two weeks, there was some glimmer of hope of some reconciliation. But that candle got blown out for the short-term.''

"I guess (OWRS) will have its series and we'll have ours," former CART champion, now IRL team owner, Michael Andretti said, "What else is there?"

"It's a shame, that's what it is," Helio Castroneves added, "I think politics could have been put aside a little and something could have come about that was good."

All that's left to be done now is to get on with the business of racing and, for a short time at least, we can be thankful of that. Time will be the real judge of who won today.

Please send any comments regarding this article to: brad@crash.net

 

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