Bruce Martin
Tuesday February 19th, 2008

Final arrangements are being worked out between IndyCar and Champ Car that will end the long feud between the two sides, IndyCar officials confirmed. An official announcement could come as early as Friday morning.

Series officials hoped to make the announcement on Thursday afternoon, but Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven will not be back from tending to personal business in England.

All but one of the Champ Car owners appear to be in agreement, which would have Champ Car close its doors allowing its teams to join the IndyCar Series. A financial arrangement is also being made by IndyCar where it will purchase some of Champ Cars assets including all "intellectual properties" and some hard assets such as series transporters and other safety equipment.

"Discussions are ongoing," said IndyCar Series vice president of public relations John Griffin. "There is still an agreement that needs to be completed.

"We're confident but discussions are ongoing."

Drafts of an agreement between the two sides were exchanged on Tuesday, according to sources.

This would end the 13-year war that began when Tony George, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, announced the creation of a new racing series on Mar. 20, 1994. At that time, most of the teams which competed in the Indianapolis 500 were in CART, a series that went bankrupt and would later be revived as Champ Car. The series didn't move toward reality until 1995 and began competition on Jan. 27, 1996.

George's original intention was to have CART teams participate in what was then known as the Indy Racing League. But most of those teams refused, starting a lengthy and divisive battle for supremacy in North American open wheel racing.

Now it appears Champ Car will agree to cease operations, allowing its teams to accept George's offer of a free Dallara chassis and free Honda engines to make the transition to IndyCar. In addition, IndyCar is expected to get Champ Car's race dates for the Long Beach Grand Prix along with street races in Edmonton, Alberta. Surfer's Paradise Australia. Mexico City and Toronto could be added in 2009.

This would not be a merger of Champ Car and IndyCar because the IndyCar Series will be the only series in competition. And it is not technically an acquisition because IndyCar will not be acquiring all of the assets of Champ Car.

The proper term would be an "amalgamation" which means Champ Car closes up business and its teams join IndyCar.

In recent weeks, while George was making his pitch to bring the two sides together, Champ Car's principles including Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Dan Pettit considered one last effort to stage the 2008 season or to file bankruptcy.

Either way, the IndyCar Series will now have the opportunity to lead this form of racing into the future with the Indianapolis 500 as its cornerstone event.

But any agreement does not necessarily mean a large contingent of Champ Car teams will be joining IndyCar this year. Some teams may close up or enter a new form of racing, such as sports cars.

Champ Car teams Walker Racing and Newman-Haas-Lanigan are expected to join the IndyCar Series. But some of IndyCar's current teams, such as Dreyer & Reinbold and Vision Racing (which ironically is owned by George), may have to reduce the number of cars they field this season.

Dreyer & Reinbold campaigned two cars in IndyCar last season but may run just one car in 2008. In addition, Vision Racing has 10 cars in its possession and will be the main source of cars for Champ Car teams that decide to join IndyCar.

But as former CART and IndyCar driver Robby Gordon said at last week's Daytona 500: "Getting the cars together is the easy part. The hard part was getting the two sides to finally agree to become one."

The lengthy war for control of open wheel racing in America coincided with NASCAR's rapid growth to become the premier racing series in the United States.

Even with one unified IndyCar Series, it may be difficult to compete in the racing world with NASCAR's huge sponsorship, media and fan base advantages.

But at the very least, it will help restore stature to IndyCar's premier event, the Indianapolis 500.

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