Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feuding Unravels Indy 500

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feuding Unravels Indy 500

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- After decades of avoiding NASCAR country like a

6-year-old eating around his spinach, Indycar racing probably is

coming to Georgia.

Bruton Smith could schedule an IRL race at Atlanta Motor

Speedway as soon as next year if events at his Fort Worth and

Charlotte tracks this summer are reasonably successful.

Savannah has a shot at growing an Indy Lights race held this

past weekend on Hutchinson Island into a CART event by 2001 or

so -- a most exciting prospect. If not Savannah, Road Atlanta in

Braselton, Ga., could get the Deep South's first contemporary

CART event.

NASCAR's popularity notwithstanding, either or both Indy races

would be a coup for motorsports fans in this region. But only if

CART and the 1 1/2-year-old IRL can resolve the feud that is

diminishing the tradition of openwheel racing and has put a

damper on Sunday's 81st Indianapolis 500.

Indy-car racing is a diluted product because of the division

between CART, the sport's longestablished entity, and IRL

founder Tony George, who controls the storied Indianapolis Motor

Speedway.

CART, or Championship Auto Racing Teams, still has most of the

sport's biggest stars, most of its well-heeled owners and all

but a few of the major sponsorships. But without the Indy 500,

CART is a major league without a showpiece TV event.

Similarly, the IRL needs CART because it has the marquee

drivers such as Al Unser Jr., Michael Andretti and Bobby Rahal

and premier owners such as Roger Penske, Carl Haas and Chip

Ganassi.

The IRL is widely perceived as second-rate despite being built

around the prestige of the Indy 500. Indeed, Sunday's 500 will

be like a USFL game played under a Super Bowl banner. The field

consists of a few recognizable names and a bunch of competitors

familiar only to their hometown newspapers.

The best-case scenario is that the two sanctioning bodies will

someday agree to disagree and work to coexist. …

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