Just one day after IndyCar Series founder and CEO Tony George and Champ Car Series principal Kevin Kalkhoven shook hands on a new "unified era" for the sport, one of the best Champ Car teams has decided to pass on the deal and close its racing operation.
Forsythe Racing, announced on Thursday it will not be joining IndyCar and will cease operations after the Champ Car Series finale, the April 20 Long Beach Grand Prix.
Neil Micklewright, the vice president of operations for Forsythe Championship Racing Ltd., LLC, issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
"Forsythe Championship Racing is announcing today the cessation of its racing operations," Micklewright's statement said. "After 13 years of competition in CART and the Champ Car World Series, the team has been unable to secure the necessary sponsorship to be able to compete in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2008.
"Forsythe Racing Inc., the parent company of FCR, will participate in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Champ Car finale, with drivers to be announced."
This announcement came after four representatives of Forsythe's Champ Car team attended a new team orientation in the IndyCar Series offices in Indianapolis on Monday.
John Griffin, the vice president of communications for the Indy Racing League, spoke on behalf of the IndyCar Series, saying, "Although we are disappointed in Gerry's decision, there was never any guarantee of his or anyone's participation in the series. We had 100 percent Champ Car team participation at our orientation earlier this week and that was incredibly pleasant surprise to us. We feel good about the number of cars participating in our series and the results since unification speak for themselves."
So far, Conquest Racing and Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing have announced they will participate in the IndyCar Series. Other teams, such as Walker Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, are expected to announce next week they are joining.
By Forsythe ceasing its racing operation, Paul Tracy will not have a chance to renew his rivalry with Helio Castroneves from the 2002 Indianapolis 500, at least not yet. Tracy may be available to sign with another team given today's news.
The Canadian driver is the most recognizable name of the Champ Car lineup and many drivers in the IndyCar Series were looking forward to racing against him.
"Paul Tracy, obviously, he's a guy that's been a talented driver," Castroneves said. "It would be great to race with him again. Obviously, it's hard for me to say who is going to be here. The guys that I used to race, that's the guys that I can talk about.
"But I know there are new guys, young rookies, new drivers. I'm sure everybody's going to have fun, enjoy it.... Good team, good drivers, they will adapt quick. I'm sure it's going to be a good show."