The merger that is. Love it or hate it, it's done. For the hardcore Champcar fans like myself, it's a bitter pill to swallow. Just like a racer, we wanted to win. We wanted to stick it to Tony George and his reproduction of CART, called the IRL. But each year we watched our series slide backwards instead of moving forward. Sure we watched the unveiling of a new chassis and new events but viewership and sponsorship faded into near oblivion. That can't be good.
From just a marketing perspective, this needed to happen and it needed to happen soon. I'm a big picture guy and I despise how the France family has taken NASCAR and done their part to fill the void that was created by the open wheel split in 1995. But now NASCAR has plateaued, in my opinion, and it's time to attack. It's the perfect timing to unify and start a marketing push to get Indy car racing back on the map. Will it happen over night? No way. Can it happen in the next five years? I think so. I think the IRL has always had the upper hand on Champcar from an advertising perspective and I think they really push now, to win back the fans that feel alienated from open wheel racing.
This can be done this year by championing the unification of the two series. "Don't miss this years 500 as we see the return of Paul Newman, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, yada, yada, yada". I think you market the RETURN of everyone this year. I think 2009 needs to be built around the return of tracks that will fall off the schedule this year. It's a shame to see Toronto and Cleveland not get a race this year. I HOPE they return as well as Laguna Seca(need I remind you of Zanardi's move?)
There is nothing perfect in this unification and there never would have been any perfect scenario but they can build from this and work to get open wheel racing back to something similar to it's glory days.