The Phoenix Coyotes are having trouble paying the ice bill, so much so the National Hockey League has intervened to steady a bankrupt club that not even Wayne Gretzky could save.
Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association secured $175 million in loans for several franchises recently. In an economic climate in which the word "bailout" has become a political hot button, sports franchises are increasingly seeking aid, or at least buttressing, from their governing bodies. Not in racing, in general, however, and not, specifically in the Indy Racing League, according to commercial division president
Though North America's top open wheel circuit is still in the process of finding its footing after reunification -- and the absorption of several former teams and events from the Champ Car series that went bankrupt after the 2007 season -- the IRL will not assist teams financially through a difficult climate.
"We're not in a position to subsidize teams," Angstadt said. "It will be what-you-see-is-what-you-get. We are working real hard to help secure sponsorship for teams with a dedicated sales team, doing presentations, doing research, trying to do all the things to assist. But writing checks, we just can't do."
"We're already lean and mean because we've gone through some tough times [as a league]," Andretti said. "We are better-situated to handle what is happening right now."
Handling and winning are different matters, though. Smaller teams with high-quality drivers have been able to compete on street/road courses early in the season, with
Tracy, 40, a winner of 31 Champ Car races, was ruled second to
"I just want to race. It's all I've ever done," he said. "I've been racing since I was six years old, and I didn't want my career to just come to an abrupt stop after racing Indy cars for 16 or 17 years. When the merge happened, my team owner decided to stop, and when the music stopped, it kind of left me without any seats to sit in. It's been very frustrating thinking after all this time my career's just going to end like that. That's not the way I wanted it to end. I realize I'm not going to race another 10 years, but I'd like to run a couple more years. I feel I'm competitive. I feel I've got the drive. And hopefully something will open up."
"The first five laps I had white knuckles and I thought, "What am I doing here?," Doornbos said. "'I should probably take a plane back home to Europe.'
"The speeds are high but having been lucky and racing in Formula One I know what high speeds are, but normally we attacked a corner, you brake, you turn in, you go back on the power and you try to do it as fast as possible, and here I was just driving toward this concrete wall and I had some voices in my head saying, 'What are you doing? You should lift or brake or whatever.' But the car turns by itself so easily. It's really strange. Physically there's not a lot of input to make the car turn because the way its set up, when you leave the box you'd already think you crashed the car. For me, it was a lot of things on my mind. It was like being in school the first day."
Doornbos, who is being tutored by fellow Dutchman and two-time Indy-winner
If three-time defending Sprint Cup champion
"I would love to see Jimmie Johnson in an open wheel car," he said. "He's clever, disciplined, controlled. He would be very good in an open wheel car. I wish one day he'd have a go at it."