News

The end of CART...Fernandez quits

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by Gary(SF), Mar 13, 2004.

  1. Gary(SF)

    Gary(SF) F1 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2003
    3,637
    Los Altos Hills, CA
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    Gary B.
    Fernandez quits Champ Cars
    Massive blow for new organisers OWRS as it struggles for numbers


    Fernandez was thought to be a Champ Car definite, but has now pulled out


    The Mexican has instead nailed his colours to IRL's mast


    Efforts to rebuild the Champ Car World Series were dealt a massive blow when team owner/driver Adrian Fernandez confirmed on Thursday that he is to quit the series and race full-time in the rival IRL IndyCar Series. Team Rahal is also expected to follow suit.

    Just 48 hours after appearing at Champ Car's media tour in Long Beach, Fernandez told SPEEDTV.com he was leaving his racing home since 1993 because he didn't feel comfortable with the future of Champ Cars. And SPEEDTV.com has also learned that three-time CART champ Bobby Rahal is expected to move Michel Jourdain to Tony George's all-oval series as well.

    "We're still in CART [Champ Car], as we speak, but obviously this was a ground-shaking announcement today by Adrian and it causes everyone to reassess where they are," said Rahal, who fields a Champ Car for Mexico's Michel Jourdain and an IRL effort for Buddy Rice. "I still think where you go depends on what your sponsors want."

    Asked about Jourdain's sponsor, Gigante, Rahal replied: "They are very concerned. Adrian is an opinion leader in Mexico and for him to do this speaks volumes."

    As for his own preference, the 1986 Indy winner said: "I'm tired of the battle and I'm tired of seeing NASCAR pull away, although full credit to them. They took advantage of the situation. But I remember the glory days of Champ Car and I want to go back there."

    If Rahal joins Fernandez, it appears almost impossible that the new owners of Champ Car would be able to field enough cars for the 2004 season - scheduled to kick off next month in Long Beach. Fernandez said his decision was made after leaving Long Beach earlier this week.

    "I have to look out for the best interests of Fernandez Racing, and all our sponsors, and at Long Beach I just didn't see security for the future," said Fernandez, who will make his IRL debut next week in his hometown of Phoenix. "There were not enough guarantees to know my team would be here at the end of the year.

    I could only count 13 confirmed cars and that's not enough
    Adrian Fernandez

    "I just didn't have any confidence and I had to make a move. I mean, I love Champ Car and I made my name in this series, and this is very difficult. But I've got to look out for my team."

    The 40-year-old veteran from Mexico City already has one Honda-powered Dallara in the IRL with rookie Kosuke Matsuura.

    "It was tough to build this team and my partner Tom Anderson and I have put our soul into this," added Fernandez, a seven-time Champ Car race winner. "I believe in what Tony George is doing and it looks like the IRL is growing. I'm excited about going to Indianapolis again and plus, Tony is going to get back to road courses so I'm very optimistic about the future."

    Fernandez, whose racing success has made him a national hero in Mexico, was instrumental in helping Champ Car get races in Monterrey and Mexico City. The latter event drew nearly 300,000 people in 2003.

    "I'm going to miss racing in Mexico, especially Mexico City, and some of our sponsors are tied to that race so I hope Champ Car has a good event," he said.

    Champ Car president Dick Eidswick issued a statement saying: "We are disappointed to hear of Adrian Fernandez retirement from the Champ Car World Series. He has been a top contender and a favourite among our strong Mexican fan base. We wish him the best of luck."

    But this is devastating news for a series scrambling to come up with cars. Paul Gentilozzi has maintained there will be 18 cars at Long Beach.

    "I could only count 13 confirmed and that's not enough," said Fernandez. "So I did what I had to guarantee the continuity of Fernandez Racing."
     
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  3. WCH

    WCH F1 Veteran
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    Mar 16, 2003
    5,180
    Sad news indeed. Wonder how OWRS will respond.
     
  4. aawil

    aawil Formula 3

    Aug 10, 2002
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    Aaron
    Traitor.
     
  5. Senna1994

    Senna1994 F1 World Champ
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    Although I loved CART, in a way I wish Tony George would have taken over at the Court BK hearings and we would have unified open wheel racing series in the United States. I personally think OWRS will survive although I wish them the best of luck, we need one series in the U.S. period. If Rahal leaves I think this is disaster for Champ Cars.
     
  6. Gary(SF)

    Gary(SF) F1 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2003
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    I agree the better outcome in hindsight would have been George winning the assets in court. I don't see how CART can survive with Fernandez gone and Rahal almost sure to follow. Just too few cars commited to have a viable series for sponsors and spectators. My son and I have seen every F1 and CART race at Long Beach, and this year I didn't renew our tickets...just had a feeling.

    Gary
     
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  8. Feffman

    Feffman Karting
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    Oct 31, 2003
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    Gateway To The West
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    I too was shocked when I read the headline of Adrian leaving. Sad day in deed, but it's all about what the sponsor wants. No ovals in Mexico, that I know of and both Mexican races are controlled by Jerry Forsyth (I think). Maybe the new Mexican drivers can make it play.

    As for Tony G. getting all the CART assets, NAH. He'd simply shut it down and we'd end up with open wheel NASCAR. Funny how his big push when starting the Irrelevant Racing League (IRL) was to get American drivers in the seats. POSH. He wants to be like The France family.

    Long live Champ Car (I hope) and kudos to Paul, Kevin and Jerry (OWRS) for taking a hell of a risk to keep it alive. So to the teams who stay with Champ Car.

    Mark Pfeffer
     
  9. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
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    Baloney, he wanted to buy CART to eliminate any competition. He would have just sold the assets piecemeal to some unspecting investors with money to lose.

    If Rahal leaves CART is gone. It's a shame because we won't have open wheel road racing in the US anymore and you can bet Bernie will raise the price of having an F1 race in the US.

    Regards,

    Jon P. Kofod
    www.flatoutracing.net
     
  10. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    OK, so how long until IRL starts running road courses? Anyone know how the technical developments have been going?
     
  11. joeyy

    joeyy Karting

    Nov 11, 2003
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    joe
    this news is a real shocker! i would like to see champ cars survive but Mr George would rather see it die on the vine. it is a shame because the IRL is bush league.
     
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  13. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    Fast forward 10 years. F1 will have priced itself out of Indy, running at its new home along the lakefront in Chicago (hey, it's MY fantasy). The IRL team owners will have joined together and mutinied, wresting control of the series away from Tony George ala USAC/CART. Soooooo, after much blood has been shed and many millions of dollars wasted, we are going to end up with a single open-wheel series (CARL?) dominated by foreign drivers, run by the owners and watched sparsely other than a few prominent events, with the blue-ribbon event being held Memorial Day at Indy. Did I miss anything?
     
  14. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Dec 1, 2000
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    CART won't make it.

    I have always liked Paul from Trans Am days and have even exchanged emails with him.

    IRL will race road courses. Maybe in 2005.

    One open wheel series will be the best.

    IRL has been the most entertaining open wheel racing in America the past few years. (F1 included!) Remember, I'm a road racing anti oval snob too.

    I'm still mad at CART for letting me get all the way out to TMS and canceling the race 1 hour before the start.
     
  15. Tom Larkins

    Tom Larkins Formula Junior

    05 from what I hear.
    LongBeach,Cleveland,Toronto,Montreal,Vancouver,Monterrey,MexCity and Australia

    While Tony George is a schmuck, Cart was run poorly and w/o direction before the current team took over. Too bad it too late IMO do to the current economics with finding financial backing this late in the game for teams to be put together for 04.
     
  16. Alex Rogo

    Alex Rogo Formula Junior

    Jan 2, 2004
    268
    California
    It seems the OWRS guys were sticking it to a lot of people w/ their privatization end run. Now it's starting to bite them.

    I've never been much of an oval fan, having only started following Indy w/ any degree of interest when all the road racers (Rahal et al) started showing well there. That said, I think in present circumstances George has the best assortment of tools to get the job done, and he has committed to at least two road races for 2005. It's time for "Champ Cars" to die a swift death and be on with it.
     
  17. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Letter from Adrian Fernandez...

    > Open letter from Adrian Fernandez
    >
    > Date 2004-03-16
    >
    > The following is an open letter from Adrian Fernandez regarding his
    > choice
    > to leave Champ Car and join the IRL for the 2004 season.
    >
    > There are a lot of questions out there about why Fernandez Racing made
    > the
    > decision to enter into the IRL for the remainder of the 2004 season and
    > beyond. Hopefully I can clear up a few things, but almost all of what I
    > am
    > going to say is public knowledge and has been covered in the media
    > already.
    >
    > Fernandez Racing went to Long Beach for two reasons. The first was to
    > support the series. Following the bankruptcy court proceedings in
    > Indianapolis, Fernᮤez Racing was the first team to issue a press
    > release
    > saying that it would be back in Champ Cars for 2004. The only other team
    > to
    > do so was RuSport when they announced AJ Allmendinger.
    >
    > I personally have always been a strong supporter of CART. I was
    > instrumental in bringing CART to Mexico which was a long-time dream of
    > mine. In November of 2002, Fernᮤez Racing was again the first to
    > commit
    > to CART and issue a release saying that we would be competing in 2003 –
    > this at a time when teams like Penske Racing, Andretti Green, Chip
    > Ganassi
    > and Mo Nunn Racing were leaving for the IRL. CART was a series that I
    > loved, that helped take me where I am today.
    >
    > Our second reason for going to Long Beach was to find answers to
    > questions
    > that everyone had – a confirmed schedule of races, details regarding the
    >
    > television package for not only the US but Mexico, new sponsors that
    > were
    > going to be involved with the series, the numbers of confirmed cars and
    > drivers, and an established business plan – answers that we as a team
    > needed for our current and future sponsors, with only four weeks left
    > before the start of the season.
    >
    > The “Visit Mexico” on the side pod of my race car was not a sponsor. I
    > put
    > this there to do something for Mexico and the fans that have made my
    > career
    > in racing possible.
    >
    > In summary what we learned and didn’t learn in Long Beach left Fernandez
    >
    > Racing with no choice but to join the IRL.
    >
    > I was deeply concerned that only two of the three owners of OWRS were at
    >
    > Long Beach. How could something else be more important than the launch
    > of
    > this new series and all the battles fought to get to this point? The
    > message it sent did not sit comfortably.
    >
    > Not once throughout the entire time I was there did any one of the new
    > ownership group or the new Champ Car president speak to me and answer
    > the
    > many questions regarding the Series. Did we receive any calls the past
    > few
    > months asking how things were going with the team, were we going to try
    > to
    > run two cars, etc.? Nothing.
    >
    > Then we found out about all the deals in the background – a recognizable
    >
    > race winning driver with a contract but no ride who was told this at the
    >
    > last possible moment; sanctioning body owners talking with funded
    > drivers
    > who were also negotiating with other race teams. And, just to set the
    > record straight, this had nothing to do with us. We were not approached
    > or
    > had any type of plans to run Rodolfo Lavin, Roberto Gonzalez, etc. So
    > rumors to that effect that we are mad because someone stole a driver
    > from
    > us are completely false.
    >
    > There were a lot of other problems which became apparent at Long Beach,
    > such as, not having a 100% confirmed schedule; no details of a
    > television
    > package in Mexico or internationally; 12 confirmed drivers including
    > myself; our series champion with no sponsor; and the lack of a rational
    > business plan.
    >
    > All of these issues created serious doubts about the viability of the
    > OWRS
    > Champ Car Series in 2004 and beyond. All the promises and nothing was
    > happening. We have too much invested in this team, our long-time
    > sponsors,
    > our fans, Mexico, on and on. Everybody would lose. We needed and
    > expected
    > to get solid facts in Long Beach and we were totally disappointed. You
    > must
    > remember that Fernandez Racing had to expend substantial additional
    > amounts
    > to support race teams in two separate series. The logistical, technical
    > and
    > other costs of running two teams, in Champ Car and the IRL, was very
    > substantial. In addition, my sponsors were already concerned about the
    > turmoil in the Champ Car Series.
    >
    > If the series would fold prior to the Long Beach race because we didn’t
    > make the car counts per the promoters agreements, or we make it through
    > the
    > Long Beach race and then the series folds – that’s it. Fernᮤez Racing
    > is
    > done, and this impacts everything across the board - the losses to our
    > sponsors, Mexico, our fans... we would be putting 40 employees, most of
    > them with families, out on the street in a tough job market with the
    > closing of Patrick Racing, American Team Spirit Johansson and Walker
    > Racing.
    >
    > You may be thinking, why not just ride this out and if it ends then go
    > to
    > the IRL? It is not that easy. After a blow like that, it will be much
    > more
    > difficult to convince sponsors and team members that this is now the
    > direction to go. Also, you have a major issue with engines and chassis
    > that
    > might or might not be available.
    >
    > There has been a rumor that this decision was based on money owed to
    > Fernᮤez Racing. I won’t get into this issue except to say that
    > everything
    > I knew about money either to be paid to Fernᮤez Racing or not paid, I
    > knew long before I went to Long Beach. If this was the issue –then I
    > would
    > not have gone to Long Beach. I would have already made my decision and
    > given my team more than 11 days to prepare for the Phoenix IRL race.
    >
    > I have been very proud of the accomplishments of the Mexican drivers,
    > especially the wins by Michel and Mario. Sure I want to beat them on the
    >
    > race track and, like in Portland, that is what makes it all the more
    > special for me. We should be united not separated and that is why this
    > whole situation, what everything has come to, is just very sad.
    >
    > I can’t save Champ Car on my own… and I had to look at the facts that
    > were
    > presented by OWRS and decide if we wanted to take the risk and move
    > forward
    > based on empty promises and a “trust us” mentality. Long Beach was not
    > close to what I expected, and we made our decision then, after talking
    > with
    > our sponsors, to go to the IRL.
    >
    > One of the most rewarding things for me in my career has been the
    > support
    > of the fans. I know that a lot of them are confused by the events that
    > have
    > happened this past week, and I hope this sheds some light on how we came
    > to
    > our decision. I am not turning my back on Champ Car and the fans. The
    > series that I remember, know and love is bankrupt and already gone.
    >
    > To be quite honest, I hope there turns out to be 25 cars at Long Beach.
    > I
    > hope the races in Mexico will be as strong as ever with the great racing
    >
    > that has been the benchmark of Champ Car racing in the past. If all this
    >
    > would have happened at the end of last year, yes, I would have waited to
    >
    > see more answers. But it is March 15 and at some point, despite how hard
    > it
    > is personally, you have to face reality.
    >
    > -fernandez racing-
     
  18. Senna1994

    Senna1994 F1 World Champ
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    Thanks Rob, I agree a 100% with your views.

    Jon, calm down, all I am saying is based on the fact that IRL will run Road Courses next year a unified series would be best in my opinion. I couldn't care less about Tony G, I think he screwed up open wheel racing, but those idiots at CART didn't help matters either.
     
  19. Prova7

    Prova7 Formula Junior

    Nov 17, 2003
    254
    Dallas, TX
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    DamonB
    I've never been a Tony George fan and have been a huge CART fan for a looooong time. If Tony takes the IRL road racing I could probably get over my grudges though...


    I've been hoping CART would make it, but even as an eternal CART optimist this looks like it. If CART survives it will be in name only. When Penske left for the IRL years ago you really had to stop and take a hard look. As usual The Captain made the right move before most everyone else did.
     
  20. formula1joe

    formula1joe Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
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    Joe Bennett
    I can not stand oval racing. Putting peanut butter on a dog's tail is alot more fun to watch then cars going in circle for a couple of hundred laps. When I can not watch a F1 race, I am watching a CART race, then every other type of road coarse racing their is.

    I have gone to several Indy races, but wathing a car go by at 200 mph is boring. One can not watch the car role through a corner with the all the finesse of an eagle swooping in to catch its prey, or watch it deccelerate and accelerate in and out of corner while trying to put the pass on another racer.

    It will be sad to see CART go, we all know it is coming, but I wish it had gone the other way. Bye bye Indy, hello CART. Leave NASCAR to chase each other in circles for a couple of hours.
     
  21. bmwmpower48

    bmwmpower48 Rookie

    Mar 8, 2004
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    Josh Kinard
    I always had liked CART racing the best of all racing second to F1, but recently it hasn't been that good. But as someone else said IRL should run road courses soon so hopefully i can enjoy IRL. All the good drivers are in IRL anyways. Hopefully Bruno Junquiera will join the new IRL.
     
  22. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Rahal To Make Jump To IRL

    Written by: Robin Miller
    Sebring, FL – 3/18/2004
    Bobby Rahal is the latest CART team owner to jump to the IRL (Photo: Robert Laberge)
    Bobby Rahal, a three-time CART champion and former CEO of the series he helped grow into international respect, is throwing in with the Indy Racing League.

    SPEEDTV.com has learned that Rahal will make the official announcement late Thursday afternoon from Sebring, Fla. where he's being honored for his road racing accomplishments at the annual 12-hour sports car race.

    Rahal's defection comes on the heels of Adrian Fernandez' departure last week and leaves Champ Car in a mad scramble for cars a month away from its season opener in Long Beach.

    There were 12 confirmed cars at last week's Champ Car media day, counting Fernandez and Rahal, and the contract with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach calls for 16 cars.

    While it's expected Rahal will now field a two-car IRL team, it's not known whether Michel Jourdain will be part of it. Jourdain, sponsored by Gigante, was set to run the 2004 Champ Car season for Team Rahal and made it clear he didn't want to go to the IRL when Rahal told SPEEDTV.com last week he wasn't ruling out the IRL.

    With Fernandez gone, the 28-year-old native of Mexico City would be the big draw in Champ Car's races at Monterrey and Mexico City. Even though he scored his initial CART win at Milwaukee in 2003 for Team Rahal, Jourdain prefers the mix of street, road courses and ovals opposed to an all-oval circuit.

    It's possible that if Gigante opts to stay with Jourdain, and not Rahal, another owner in Champ Car would gladly run him.

    "I don't know what's going to happen, everything is so crazy here right now," said Jourdain on Thursday morning from Mexico City. "I think I may know what my future is later today."

    Rahal, who received a pep talk to stay in Champ Car from Paul Newman earlier this week, went to Mexico City to visit Gigante officials -- as did Paul Gentilozzi, one of the principals of Open Wheel Racing Series, owners of Champ Car.

    Buddy Rice is currently driving Rahal's G-Force/Honda in the IRL until the injured Kenny Brack returns. But, if Jourdain stays in Champ Car, Rice would likely get to run all 16 races and Rahal will have to find another driver to run Motegi and Indianapolis with Rice while Brack continues to recover.
     
  23. aawil

    aawil Formula 3

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    That sucks.I guess I'm done watching american open wheel racing.I just can't support the IRL.I can't see how OWRS can survive with all these cars dropping out.
     
  24. dinodude

    dinodude Rookie

    Jan 19, 2004
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    Atlanta, GA
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    Glenn Stephens
    Makes you wonder if Mr. George didn't use the money he bid for CART's assets to bribe their teams into moving, uh, I mean offer incentives for well-established teams to join the IRL.
     
  25. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    I don't know if it's the cooler of beer or the luck I've had watching 3 of the 5 closest IRL races in history at TMS (all hundredths of a second), but I have loved watching IRL. I never watch on TV though, just in person. Heck, I enjoy NASCAR in person I guess.
     
  26. aawil

    aawil Formula 3

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    I'll admit I try and catch the texas IRL races.The finishes are usually pretty wild.
     
  27. DMC

    DMC Formula 3

    Nov 15, 2002
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    Dean
    IRL will die once Toyota and Honda leave. IRL may make it through 2005. If Champ Car makes it through the 2004 season, IRL will be in trouble next year.

    I can't bring myself to even watch a race. Ugliest open wheel race cars there is. Judging from the comments on the Phoenix race that I've heard, it wasn't exactly an exciting race, either.

    Here's looking forward to Long Beach. We may get 19 starting. New rumor is Ritchie Hearn in a Reynard to fill out the grid.

    Oh, and if Adrian's "sponsors" wanted to go IRL, why is Tecate negotiating a deal for the rear wing of Jourdain's Gigante car? Gigante refused to join IRL and told Rahal to stuff it.

    Tecate has been reducing their car sponsorship and is concentrating their assets on race sponsorship. Adrian (and Rahal) left for Honda money.
     
  28. writerguy

    writerguy F1 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2003
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    Otto
    Only problem is now Pat Patrick is gone too with Adrian and Rahal
    Now that makes a pretty good field for the INDY 500 which is why patrick left. He told me he still wants to win that one

    Now Carl Hass is staying he said they are in it for good... (but hey that can change)
     

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