By FrankCanada97 60 Comments
I've been a race fan for a very long time now, so it saddens me to see what has happened to racing in North America. Let's put this into perspective, the only popular racing series in the USA is NASCAR. Don't get me wrong, I think NASCAR is a great series, but the racing sort of gets stale. Nowadays those stock cars only experience close racing on two of the 30-something speedways. My gripe is with the state of American open-wheel racing. The most exciting racing existed in the 1990's in what was known as the CART Indycar World Series.
The IRL emphasized an American only, spec series. The first season in 1996 only had three races on the schedule and used the leftover chassis and engine from CART's previous season. From than on, open-wheel race fans were split along two lines, all the while NASCAR gained popularity. Even though CART was the superior series in terms of racing quality, the IRL always had their trump card, the Indy 500. Soon enough the top teams from CART defected into the IRL. The CART racers were turbo-charged and could reach top speeds of 240 mph. While the IRL racers were ugly, slow and naturally aspirated. This meant that racing in the IRL was cheaper, thus why the teams shifted. The two series both lost popularity and revenue. In 2003 CART was rebranded as the Champ Car World Series and established itself as road/street course only. Both series in 2008 realised that a merger was necessary.
Unfortunately, the IRL took control from there, still utilising the IRL's uncompetitive chassis and engine. Over the next year, the former Champ Car team got used to the new series, the IndyCar Series. But unless some changes are made, this reunited series will never succeed and we may never see exciting racing ever again. All the big name drivers have since retired or gone on to other series, with the exception of few. The series are using the same Dallara chassis which since the early 2000's have not received drastic changes. Champ Car's last season featured a new redesigned Panoz chassis, unfortunately this beautiful chassis has not been tested on ovals and are now sitting in warehouses. The current series have for now returned to a 50/50 oval and road course schedule. But, since a new chassis and engine is not coming to fruition until 2012. They have made slight changes to the current chassis but this is just a quick fix. Also the series have signed a contract with TV network Versus to show a majority of the IndyCar races. Unfortunately many people do not have Versus and can't watch races. This year the average Nielson Rating was 0.2, which equates to about 200.000 households compared to NASCAR's 1.8s. Also many stands sit empty during these races. For now the series can only hope to rebuild it's fanbase and return to the status of North America's great motorsport achievement.
I now end this blog with a few CART tribute videos that showcased real racing and why it had been so popular.