IZOD IndyCar Series

Congratulations to the Indy Racing League for securing a new sponsor for the IndyCar Series, which will henceforth be known as the IZOD IndyCar Series.

From all reports IZOD sound like a fantastic partner to work with, and not just reports from yesterday’s announcement but also from during this season where they were a personal sponsor for Ryan Hunter-Reay. I like the attitude and marketing style they appear to bring to the series. I say ‘appear’ because living here in the UK I had never heard of them before they came to the IRL.

The announcement was webcast live last night, unfortunately the usual gremlins crept in and the feed was very quiet at first, then lost sound before dying completely. This is not unusual for IndyCar.com live streams, either pressers or races, and Allen makes a fantastic suggestion on how to fix it – the IRL team have some really good ideas but their tech and implementation don’t seem to ever catch up, so imagine mixing those two groups of people.

So yeah, good news for the series which is finally starting to heal some of the old wounds of the past. First the reunion, now the sponsor, next.. the car?

Some have attempted to spin this as Tony George doing good. Ha. No. He is the cause of the mess we are only just crawling out of. We haven’t quite got to the ‘standing up and dusting ourselves down’ bit yet, but we will.

Anyway, good to have some positive news after what has been a bit of a negative week for the rest of motorsport.

Presumably this means the series acronym will now be IICS – for those not following closely, i.e. most reading this I presume, over the last 18 months or so they’ve been redefining ‘IRL’ to refer to the sanctioning body rather than the championship, so the series has sort of started to be called the ICS, for IndyCar Series. So we now have IRL IICS. Not catchy.. needs work.

Jeff Olson has a good piece over on AUTOSPORT.

EDIT – IndyCar.com has a nice landing page explaining it all, though unfortunately the main site underneath is still a mess and has auto-run video (it is video of the announcement though, so check it out).

Taking stock

Okay, let’s take stock and see where we are. I don’t mean to be downbeat about all of the crappy news we’ve had over the last six weeks, but I do think it prudent to give a summary of what has changed since the end of the 2008 racing season.

Honda out of F1. Big news for all concerned. Since last week, Honda has claimed they have 3 potential buyers lined up. I’m not sure how likely that is. I hope someone does buy the team and continue, even if they have to make swingeing cuts to survive. If nobody buys it we’re down to 18 cars and dangerously close to the other teams having to field a third car per Bernie’s contracts. Team orders? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Audi out of ALMS and LMS. I’d half-suspected they’d only do the LMS for the one year, the bigger surprise to me is dropping the ALMS almost entirely apart from Sebring. Instead they choose to take a new car to Sebring and Le Mans (and I bet they show up at Petit as well). Methinks Peugeot will win Le Mans.

AGR out of Acura/ALMS and into A1GP. I’m sure if they jumped or if they were pushed, either way you have to think running the A1 car is a significant cost-saving over developing a prototype sportscar – I’m assuming they were helping develop it.

Penske out of ALMS, and seemingly no Porsches at all in P2 in America OR Europe. Weird. In the US someone needs to run a customer car to go against Acura, and in Europe there are are easy wins going begging.

– I was going to mention GT1 collapsing globally, but I think that was happening anyway.

SEAT out of BTCC. This was an announcement a couple of months back. SEAT are out of British Touring Cars, although they seem to be continuing in World Touring. The claim at the time was SEAT UK had met its marketing expectations and had reached the end of the programme. Now we’ve had all these other announcements, I’m not so sure that’s true.

– If any of the US carmakers go under (particularly GM) then it will knock on to racing activities somewhere or other, especially NASCAR but all over the world as well in Aussie V8s (Holden), WTCC (Chevrolet), BTCC (Vauxhall), and who knows where else.

– Don’t forget Super Aguri’s collapse earlier in the year.

There will have been more I’ve missed here (let me know in the comments), and more will unfortunately follow I’m sure.

One thing is very clear. 2009 is going to have a VERY different look.

Don’t get too disheartened though, think of this as a natural correction. Things got way out of hand especially in Formula 1. It’s time for a bit of restructuring before we head into the eco era.

Some good news:

Acura is still moving up to P1 in ALMS as well as running a couple of P2 cars.

– BMW will have a new GT2 car in ALMS which will be run by Rahal/Letterman. A group of BMW’s WTCC drivers have been out at Road Atlanta developing it.

– Audi will have their new R8 GT car out. I saw it marked as a GT3 but I’m sure I’ve seen word of it going into GT2.

More independent/privateer cars entering touring cars and world rally. This is a mixed blessing. Sometimes these teams and/or drivers are delusional no-hopers making up the numbers, yet sometimes it allows an underfunded but otherwise excellent team to take part and prove themselves. I like those guys, I always root for them.

– Honda’s F1 woes will not affect their IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS interests or any other racing activity.

– IRL will seemingly still get 24+ cars at each round.

We still have shitloads of racing – Too Much Racing for one person to follow, and long may it be so.

Again, let me know of any more good news in the comments.

Sorry for not posting on Friday as promised.