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Volume 24 No. 112
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     In a statement released yesterday, Indianapolis Motor
Speedway President Tony George, founder of the new Indy Racing
League, said they were "disappointed" with the decision by CART
team owners to stage a race opposite the Indy 500 at Michigan
Int'l Speedway on May 26.  George:  "CART owners and competitors
are not locked out of either the Indianapolis 500 or the Indy
Racing League.  All have been invited to participate.  Our intent
was that the IRL could coexist with CART's current series of
races -- which has never included the USAC-sanctioned
Indianapolis 500.  Whether by its own rule changes or scheduling
conflicts, CART has created an unhealthy all-or-nothing choice
for the racing community.  The IRL was created for inclusion not
exclusion -- and certainly not to be in direct conflict with or
to replace any series already in existence."  George said invites
remain open to all drivers to compete in the IRL and qualify for
the Indy 500 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway).
     CART REACTION:  Andrew Craig, President of CART's IndyCar
series, said the notion that "the Indy 500 makes drivers and
drivers don't make the Indy 500" is "totally inappropriate" and
"highly insulting" to the drivers on the circuit.  One unnamed
CART owner:  "If you want to see real race-car drivers, you are
going to go to MIS (Michigan).  If you want to see the 'B' race,
you go there (Indianapolis)."  But the ORLANDO SENTINEL's Mike
Zizzo notes that some CART teams may "succumb to sponsor
pressure" to compete at Indy.  Valvoline -- and Indy sponsor as
well as an original IRL supporting sponsor -- will have its
Walker Racing team race at Indy and the U.S. 500 (ORLANDO
SENTINEL, 12/20).
     SPONSOR REAX:  Leo Mehl, Worldwide Manager of Racing for
Goodyear:  "They're working hard to make people choose sides,
which is exactly what Goodyear is not going to do."  (Steve
Ballard, USA TODAY, 12/20).
     IN THE MIDDLE:  The current issue of INDY CAR RACING
magazine reports virtually all IndyCar owners and sponsors are
supporting the U.S. 500, with only Valvoline "caught in the web."
Valvoline Motorsports Marketing Manager Mark Coughlin:  "We
didn't anticipate this level of solidarity, especially from the
sponsors, who appear to be willing to pay the same sponsorship
dollars and get less in return."  Coughlin noted their IRL deal
was done before the U.S. 500 "was a reality" and with the
anticipation that 30% of IndyCar teams would race at Indy.
Coughlin:  "We have an agreement in principle [with IRL] based on
certain deliverables, but those deliverables appear to be going
away" (INDY CAR RACING magazine, 12/20 issue).