CCWS IRL Merger Update

Ok let’s review this merger that everyone is……ah ….. not talking about - yea that’s it we’re not talking about it because it won’t get done if we don’t leave them alone! First we have Auto Week giving us all the details of a combined series based on a fax sent to them by mistake by someone at IMS. Huh – sure and I have some basement property in the everglades for sale!

TG says Kevin who? – when asked about the talks, Kevin says we are just skiing and wine tasting – getting to know each other, leave us alone or it’ll never get done.

Then TG says Ok you've got me, we have talked about getting together and I want this as much as anyone but “there is a lot of hair on this cat” Huh – TG you want what? Could it be you see that KK and company have been able to do what you wanted to years ago but were not able to and now are powerless to make happen?

KK say’s Ok you've got me, we have been exploring ways to unify OWR in this country but absolutely nothing has been resolved. The most important thing is that no one can be a looser in the new organization. Huh – you are willing to give up some of the control of your series, be you KK or TG and loose nothing?

Then there’s this person calling himself Truthie over on the SPEED CHANNEL FORUM. If you haven’t read any of his ramblings yet, get over there and do so. According to Truthie the merger thing is a done deal and he knows so because he is in the “in” and has “inside” information. Many different warblers on the forum have called him on his ramblings but each time he responded with the same information. Information which includes the details of the new series including race locations, chassis, tires etc. Truthie says the BIG announcement will come in May during Indy.

Ok it’s my turn

WickerBill sez;

I don’t care if they merge or not, it their business to run as they see fit. There’s not a thing me any other fan can do about it. The devil is always in the details and in this case the devil has the upper hand. I think this attempt will likely end up in the circular file just as the others have, in spite of what Truthie says.

I still say that the best thing for OWR is for the stronger of the two series to survive (Outlast) the other (merger by deafult). Then bring the deafult new series under the control of a strong leader just as Dan Gurney suggested years ago.

The Conversion Resurrection
- Drugs, prostitution, sports and the family.
- If the mob can stay cool, why can’t conversion vans?

Hearses start our as ordinary sedans. Chunks are hacked out of Towncars or Devilles with a blow torch, or at least a cutting wheel, some panels are then welded in to get that station wagon look. The landau top is glued on to hide the creases in the metal. Inside, little wood panels, and lots of padding give hearses that extra bit of class. No one spends a lot of time looking over the details inside - so detailing isn’t terribly important. It’s a bit like the inside of a coffin.

For the living, turning a vehicle into the ultimate resting place was once just a fantasy. But then someone thought to put a couch and a radio in the back of a van! Thus the conversion van was born. And it was good. Like in hearses - new carpet, panels and taller roof are attached to stock vehicles! The latest are also pimped out with a plasma TV, PS2 and a folding bed. It’s basically like having your own ambulance. It’s a crowd pleaser at tail-gate parties and it’ll keep the kids in stable condition all the way to the water park. Trailer hitch barbecue bbq grill on a Ford F150 pickup

Tailgating (monster garage) is a big priority for American car and truck designers. Grilling, listening to the radio, cooling beer and assorted patriotic horseplay - all at the back of your car has motivated both car manufacturers and the aftermarket to help you make the party go smoother. It was an idea that prompted audio controls and power outlets in the back end of the Pontiac spAztec, there's even the Freedom Grill (pictured). Overall, more American folks use their pickups to kick off the game or the race than doing all the stuff in truck commercials.

Before kids, conversion vans are an old favourite of club crawlers. Having a mood-lit, dodge bedroom just a few feet from the club was a handy shortcut in the leisure suit years all the way up to Zima's glory days. But the conversion van has been eroding since 1990 and the industry’s concerned. Only Ford and GM are still in the factory conversion business and they’re not happy. Conversion vans are pre-op drag queen in the back of a vancheaper than the nicer SUVs.. While their club cache has totally fizzled away, you can still score some super dad points by financing the crap out of one.

Last year, GM has partnered up with some van converters to form the Conversion Van Marketing Association. Their big marketing coup? Well, in GM tradition - they’re slashing prices. You can now get over five grand off of one. Five grand! That’s a lot of road trip comfort for about the price of a Tahoe.

Conversion vans need a major make-over. It can’t just be about tailgaters and doin’ it - conversion vans have to become places people want to hang out. Someone has to prefer them to a limo, an H2 with TVs or an afterhours at someone’s apartment. Pictures of conversion vans are disturbing: gray cloth, fake wood panels and airplane aisle lights. What the vans need is to regain their self-esteem.

At least when people installed waterbeds and floor-to-ceiling shag in their vans decades ago, they were serious about making them cool places to be. Why not make today’s vans just as confident, with insides like a VIP room or a private club instead of a Howard Johnson room. Even if the average Nascar dad can’t cough up for a pimped out van - it’ll still help save an automotive tradition.

KK, TG, What is this Merger Thingy?

I wrote this over two years ago and at the time I never thought it would be so timeless. Last year I didn't dust it off until April or so but the latest speculation about the merger of CCWS and IRL has jump started the dusting this year. And because I am only a lowly blogger I shouldn't have to obey the phoney gag order!

I particularly like the part where I called it a merger...........whatever happened to REUNIFICATION? HA!


Perhaps the term reunification is adding to open wheel racing’s problems. Reunification implies that at some time in the past there was unity. Reunification, it would seem, suggests a return to that unity. Does anyone remember the blissful co-existence of CART and the IRL. I don’t’ think so! Okay, let’s call this proposed getting together of these businesses a merger, or buy out, or perhaps you prefer to take the business edge off and refer to it as unification. Whatever term you prefer there’s no escaping the fact that CCWS and IRL are businesses with all the trappings and their products are the sport of open wheel racing.

When one looks at CCWS and IRL strictly from the business view you can’t help but realize how frail they both are. Hard core racing fans, no matter which side they affiliate with, tend to be blinded to frailty of these businesses. Either or both could easily fail. Auto racing is very expensive and requires funding from many sources. Someone once said if you want to make a small fortune in racing you will need to start with a big one!

When CART was formed there were some very successful business people involved yet in the end they were not able to generate a meaningful and lasting growth so the business wound in up in bankruptcy court. However those same founders have continued to operate and lead their personal businesses with astounding success. They had a nice run with CART until the IRL came along. In business this is called competition. It was not just competition though, there was plenty of that from NASCAR and others, but this was direct competition in the form of open wheel racing. The business of CART failed to recognize the IRL as competition and went about racing as before and finally went bankrupt. What’s difficult to understand is how this group of extraordinarily successful businessmen with their independent successes could have failed so dismally in this joint venture. They all must have good business acumen, yet as a group that business acumen must have been somehow gotten cancelled.

For a business to succeed it must make money, what other reason would there be for a business to exist? So long as CART was a public corporation their profitability, or lack of, was public knowledge. Determining the financial status of a private company is difficult at best so we aren’t likely to know much more than they want us to about them. Yes, it’s possible to set up a similar business on paper and plug in some expense and revenue estimates and make a good guess but that’s all it is - a guess. The CCWS and the IRL can be infused with private money until the owners run out or they can be made profitable by the use of good business practices and we aren’t likely to know for sure which is the case. If the owners have to continue funding the business then it is not likely to continue for very long. If either CCWS or IRL, or both, can execute a solid business plan then the fans will be rewarded with continuation of open wheel racing in this country.

With the two series beginning to look like gas stations on opposite side of the street it will surely be difficult for both series to survive. There may not be enough fans left to support one series let alone two. On the other hand if two businesses are managed properly perhaps they can both grow their respective fan and sponsorship bases, both of which are badly needed to assure the continuation of open wheel racing in this country.

There have been many suggestions as to how to combine (reunify?) the two series, but so far all we have is an agreement to disagree, whatever that is. Perhaps the combined series would be the best solution but then again maybe not. Competition is good for business, what would the quality of the products we buy be like without it. There are many businesses whose products are similar if not the same. Can two open wheel racing series survive? In time we should know. The future of open wheel racing in this country is in the hands of four individuals. Three of whom were successful in other business before forming a new racing series. Does this sound familiar? The other has used the family money to form a racing series and has never really demonstrated business success in any market.

Perhaps it was never meant to be, if open wheel racing was profitable wouldn’t there have been other investors lining up to get a piece of the action. Is open wheel racing just the floundering stepchild of wealthy egomaniacs that aren’t interested in anything but being king? For the sake of this 50 year fan of open wheel racing and all other fans, I hope someone figures out how to make it work.

Bill Sheets © Copyright 2004
International RXT big pickup truck

Prodigy Crab

Diesel Power

- Better than hybrids or just for eurotrash?

It smells like ass, doesn’t cost that much and usually means very little acceleration. No, it’s not Taco Bell's steak quesadilla. It’s diesel power! While everyone and their mama, including the latest consumer reports announcement, is jumping onto the hybrid wagon - diesel is still seen as being just for trucks and buses. The truth is, when USA Today (the thinking man’s toilet paper) drove a Prius and a VW Jetta TDI from Detroit to D.C. - the Vdub got six more MPG than the Toyota, which got 38. That’s also 6 less than Consumer Reports got out of their Prius.

I have a hard time advocating that people drive diesels. Compared to the futurism and political cache of hybrids, diesels don’t seem to have a lot going for them. In city centers, hybrids are the way to go. Diesel smoke (proven to cause cancer) spewing from buses and slow-moving traffic produces a black cloud that hovers at street level. London cabs are all diesel - go smell that place. Hybrids, meanwhile spew nothing at those low speeds. It’s a better technology for taxis, police cars, meter maids and buses.

Fair enough, but at highway speeds, like on USA Today’s trip, and most other USA driving, diesels make tons more sense than the overhyped hybrids. Diesel fuel costs around 15% less and the extra cost of the car is often as little as 300 bucks (in the case of the Passat). This is compared to the $2,700 you’ll add to your Escape XLT Sport to get the Hybrid. Diesels are also not quite as slow as they used to be. There's diesel bimmers in europe that make close to 300 hp!

Compared to Ethanol, there aren’t diesel versions available for most cars sold in the US. Instead, cars like the Volkswagen Golf, Mercedes E type and BMW offer diesel engines in the States - a BMW X5 diesel's coming soon - meaning you’ve got little choice but to go German. If that ain’t your thing - you have a Hummer H1 Original Hummerwide variety of massive, American trucks to choose from! Ford, GM and Dodge make awesome diesel trucks in both regular and dually variety! There’s also the Hummer H1 and the International RTX (both pictured) to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil!

Blog Archive