Originally posted by Bob Riebe
I totally disagree with you on one part; what happened to the IRL after the turn of the century, truly give some base to those who say Mr. George was not dealt a full deck.
It is one thing to have vision, it is bizzare to crap on your own vision, with no gain other than to hope the left-overs of CART fail.
I'm not sure it explains everything, but I think the best way to view the Split is entirely economically. George's dreams of an oval-centric, wholly-American series may or may not have been genuine, let's face it, they could've just been a ploy to get enough of the smaller teams on board (Foyt etc.) to avoid the IRL turning into British F3000, but basically his grievance was CART's undervaluation of the Indy 500.
As was eventually proven, Indy was by far the greatest draw in the whole open-wheel scene, but CART appeared to be heading in a more European direction, with a plethora of foreign drivers, street circuits, even races outside of North America. This expansion, I guess, could've been interpreted as an attempt to marginalise the Speedway and its troublesome influence, whereas Tony George certainly sought a more central role. Correctly reasoning that ultimately IMS's draw would contend with that of a bunch of no-name Europeans racing around the second division ovals, some identikit street circuits, and a bunch of road courses left over from various sports car series, TG took Indy out of the CART structure.
One gets the impression that George was essentially involved in an automotive hostage situation - the IRL was bizarrely underprepared for operation, and the first few seasons would have been laughable if they didn't result in so many serious injuries. When CART management refused to compromise in safeguarding Indy's place at the centre of its plans, George was really left with no choice but to press on with his ill-considered plans. With the NASCAR deal in place, he had the income stream to run the series indefinitely, whereas CART was left with the stars and cars, but arguably without a draw the American public could easily relate to. The division turned into a stalemate - this in turn forced the IRL to take itself seriously. When CART began to implode as a result of TG's pressures plus more than a few of their own making, the stars and cars jumped to the series that could offer them a secure long-term, and short-term TV exposure. Lo and behold, the series formed out of the realities of OW racing in the mid-'90s, had reincarnated itself by assembling itself in a strikingly similar order as before. The Pigs of the IRL had finally reconciled themselves with the Farmers they had driven out in 1996, and already it was impossible to say which was which. Tony George did not so much crap over his original vision, but simply had to abandon it in favour of running an actual race series.
That's my embryo of a theory, anyhow, I'd be most happy for McGuire and co. to shoot it down. I had been in the world not seven years when Buddy Lazier won his first (and so far only ;) ) Indy 500, which I guess must make me the first of the revisionists.
Just so long as we can avoid all this vitriol that might've had a point to it about 10 years ago, I think there's a real point in discussing hows and wherefores and et ceteras of what recent events have confirmed as a very significant point in racing history.
[that was my apology for hijacking your thread, btw, Slyder