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INDYCAR OWNERS BEGIN TO RALLY AROUND ALTERNATE-INDY IDEA
Published September 21, 1995
IndyCar Owners are preparing for a meeting "that will decide whether they will go through with a proposed boycott" of next May's Indy 500, according to this morning's DETROIT NEWS. The boycott would be in response to the Indy 500's new qualifying format. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George, who is leading the upstart Indy Racing League, enacted the changes which require 25 of 33 qualifying spots be reserved for IRL drivers. Although IndyCar President & CEO Andrew Craig refused to comment, some IndyCar owners indicate they are preparing for an alternative race. Walker Racing Owner Derrick Walker: "There is some serious testing of the water, but the button hasn't been pushed yet." Walker added that "there will be an owners meeting real soon," and "there is no doubt" IndyCar teams "will be racing Memorial Day. There's no way the teams and sponsors can afford not to ... and I guarantee it will be on television." Several sources indicate an alternate race could be held at Michigan International Speedway, in Brooklyn, MI, owned by Roger Penske (Angelique Chengelis, DETROIT NEWS, 9/21). Car Owner Chip Ganassi said talk of a boycott is real: "We have a position and we've made it known to Tony. I hope cooler heads prevail" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/21). Michael Andretti: "I would hate to see it happen, because Indy is a great race. But Tony's got to understand it's not the only race" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/21). FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Tony George was in Loudon, NH, yesterday promoting the New England 200, which will be part of the '96 IRL schedule. George said he was surprised at talk of a boycott, according to this morning's BOSTON HERALD. George, on IndyCAR and CART Owners: "Boycott is something that I though was not in their vocabulary. ...We expect to have a field of competition that may or may not include that specific group of owners or drivers. But that's totally up to them." Car owner Dick Simon said he would not boycott Indy "because of obligations to his team and sponsors." Simon: "I have to look at the fact we've already signed an agreement to run Indy. ... I'll do my best to do whatever it takes to make sure our sponsors and our team are at the Indianapolis 500. I have to do that." Driver Eddie Cheever said he will be at the Brickyard on Memorial Day Weekend. Cheever: "When I came to the States, my sole objective was to win the Indianapolis 500." Cheever added that a boycott by top teams "would not hurt the race." Cheever: "There was no Penske car last year and it didn't kill the race" (Stephen Grabowski BOSTON HERALD, 9/21). LESSONS FROM BASEBALL? In a piece in the current INSIDE SPORTS, Lewis Franck notes that without an alternative to the Indy 500, drivers will risk not running in "the race your sponsors care most about." George says the new series will reduce costs, but Franck notes that many think it will destroy the sport. Mario Andretti: "We're not competing with other series -- we're competing with other sports. I've told Tony, 'I don't care how you put it -- there's not room for two series. One has to die.'" Franck writes: "Hasn't anyone learned the lessons from baseball? Fans don't want to see replacement players. They don't care about which acronym sanctions what race, or about those behind-the-scenes power grabs. They just want a good show" (INSIDE SPORTS, 10/95 issue).