According to recent reports, the proposed merger between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League could become official as soon as Friday morning with a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the sticking points of the 12-year split is conflicting races in Japan and Long Beach held the same weekend, April 18-20.
The IRL race at Motegi, Japan will run April 19 as scheduled and the Long Beach Grand Prix will take place on April 20. According to reports, both races could count towards the 2008 IRL championship if a merger is reached. That would leave regular IRL teams to do battle on the oval in Japan with their Dallara-Hondas while the Champ Car teams that are expected to compete full time in the combined series would then run their Panoz-Cosworths for the final time. Drivers would earn equal IRL points in each event.
Promoters of Long Beach Grand Prix, an event which has been held at nearly the same date for 33 years, are trying to secure a new, long term contract, and therefore can’t drop the date or move it since it’s a temporary circuit. The event in Japan cannot be moved to October as IRL officials had proposed due to an international racing ruling that states no competing events can take place within six weeks of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Racing insiders are taking a wait and see approach to the proposed merger, but most remain optimistic that the two series will unite once and for all.